Poor planning, rich memories

Two Baltimore workers' last-minute trip south is well worth discomfort

Notebook

The Masters

April 09, 2001|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Mason Champion and Chad Vaughn had watched the Masters on television going back to their childhood in Pennsylvania. It was part of the reason they chose their career path, graduating from Penn State three years ago in golf management and becoming local professionals in Baltimore.

Nothing that they saw in all those years matched what they witnessed this weekend, in particular yesterday.

"This is great," said Champion, who is now an independent teacher after working at Baltimore Country Club. "It's the end of a pilgrimage and the beginning of a tradition."

It took their status as members of the PGA teaching division to get tickets to the 65th Masters. It took them more than 12 hours to drive down Friday night - "in a pickup truck with a stick shift." Since they planned the trip only two weeks ago, finding lodging was a little dicey.

Which is where Vaughn's parents stepped in.

"They gave us their trailer to use," said Vaughn.

Arriving here a little after 6 a.m. Saturday, Champion and Vaughn went to sleep for about three hours in the trailer they parked at a local campground. They spent most of the last two days walking every inch of Augusta National - literally. After leaving from the wrong gate Saturday night, the two young pros had to walk completely around the perimeter of the course before getting to their truck.

What they witnessed yesterday in watching Tiger Woods win his second Masters and fourth straight major championship will only add to the memories. But what they saw was much different than what they remembered on television. From the contour of the landscape to the undulation of the greens, it was as if they had come to a different course.

"You don't see the elevation on television," said Vaughn. "On TV, you would never know it's so hilly."

Champion had a much more dramatic description.

"It's the most perfect place I've ever seen," he said.

More history

Woods wasn't the only player to make history this week. With a 5-under-par 67 yesterday and a four-round total of 10-under par 278, Toshi Izawa of Japan finished tied for fourth with Mark Calcavecchia.

It was the best performance in Masters history by a Japanese player.

"I prepared myself well, practiced a great deal and prepared myself to play at the highest level," said Izawa, 32, who has won seven times on the Japanese Tour and lost in a playoff this year at the Nissan Open in Los Angeles.

Considering the 13-hour time difference, Izawa said he might be in trouble with some of his countrymen if they stayed up all night to watch the telecast.

"They will be sleeping on Monday morning and blame it on the Masters tournament," he said through an interpreter.

Watching another champion

The two tall fellows tried their hardest to fade into the masses that made up Woods' gallery, but by the fifth hole, they were besieged by autograph-seekers. That happens when you've led your college basketball team to the national championship, as Duke's Shane Battier and Mike Dunleavy did last Monday in beating Arizona at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The two Blue Devils drove down yesterday from Atlanta, where Battier received yet another National Player of the Year award, the Naismith, from the Atlanta Tip-Off Club.

Asked if he played golf, Battier said, "You maybe could call it that. ... I'm the best ball retriever on the team."

Said Dunleavy, the unlikely hero of his team's 10-point win over the Wildcats: "I'm the best putt-putt golfer on the team."

A wild round

Perhaps the most interesting round of the day was played by Brad Faxon. He finished with a 1-under-par 71 for a four-round total of 8-under 280. It tied Faxon with four others for 10th place, his best finish here since a tie for ninth in 1993.

How Faxon wound up there is another story.

After playing the front nine in 1-under par with three birdies and two bogeys, then making another birdie on the par-4 10th, things got ugly. Faxon pitched through the fringe and into a pond on the par-4 11th. He chipped on and three-putted for quadruple-bogey 8.

Then he had to step onto the tee at the par-3 12th, perhaps the most treacherous hole on the course.

"It was the hardest thing in the world," he said. "Any chance you have [of winning] is gone. You just have to hang in there. You don't have another choice."

So Faxon, who has shown some resiliency in the past year by resurrecting his career, did what he does best. He made putts. Starting at the par-5 13th, Faxon made four straight birdies. Only a bogey on the par-4 18th prevented him from playing the back nine under par.

"I was proud of the way I came back," said Faxon, whose strong finish earned him an invitation to next year's Masters.

Two or more

Tiger Woods is the 15th player to win at least two Masters championships:

Jack Nicklaus (6): 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986

Arnold Palmer (4): 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964

Jimmy Demaret (3): 1940, 1947, 1950

Sam Snead (3): 1949, 1952, 1954

Gary Player (3): 1961, 1974, 1978

Nick Faldo (3): 1989, 1990, 1996

Horton Smith (2): 1934, 1936

Byron Nelson (2): 1937, 1942

Ben Hogan (2): 1951, 1953

Tom Watson (2): 1977, 1981

Seve Ballesteros (2): 1980, 1983

Ben Crenshaw (2): 1984, 1995

Bernhard Langer (2): 1985, 1993

Jose Maria Olazabal (2): 1994, 1999

Tiger Woods (2): 1997, 2001

Major leaders

Yesterday's Masters victory tied Tiger Woods with Nick Faldo for 12th on the all-time list of men's golf major professional titles. The leaders (M-Masters, since 1934; U-U.S. Open, since 1895; B-British Open, since 1860; P-PGA Championship, since 1916):

Player M U B P Tot.

Jack Nicklaus 6 4 3 5 18

Walter Hagen - 2 4 5 11

Ben Hogan 2 4 1 2 9

Gary Player 3 1 3 2 9

Tom Watson 2 1 5 - 8

Bobby Jones - 4 3 - 7

Arnold Palmer 4 1 2 - 7

Gene Sarazen 1 2 1 3 7

Sam Snead 3 - 1 3 7

Lee Trevino - 2 3 2 7

Harry Vardon - 1 6 - 7

Nick Faldo 3 - 3 - 6

Tiger Woods 2 1 1 2 6

Seve Ballesteros 2 - 3 - 5

James Braid - - 5 - 5

Byron Nelson 2 1 - 2 5

J.H. Taylor - - 5 - 5

Peter Thomson - - 5 - 5

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