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Total Class
The Masters shows us how it's done. And how it's not.

Augusta National Golf Club's 10th Hole
I’m always trying to find things worthy enough to write about, and the obvious thing on everyone’s minds this week is of course the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. But other than thoughts and prayers for those affected, I don’t have anything of import to offer that hasn’t already been said.

However, there were a couple of spectacular moments this week that are really worth writing about, specifically the total class exhibited at golf’s best tournament, The Masters.

Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera walked off the 10th green at Augusta National Golf Club in the impending darkness late on Sunday afternoon in a tight embrace, just as any weekend golfers would do at the conclusion of a relaxing round.

Yet this wasn’t your everyday round of golf. This was The Masters. One of the players had just won golf’s greatest prize. And one had lost. You just couldn’t tell which one was which from the way they treated each other. And isn’t that refreshing?

Scott and Cabrera battled down the stretch and into the second playoff hole on Sunday, as riveting a Masters as we’ve ever seen, made even more dramatic by a steady rain that soaked the course and the competitors throughout the back nine.

Both players made amazing shots on the final hole of regulation to get into the playoff. Then, after tying the first playoff hole with pars, they each hit terrific second shots on Augusta National’s brutal 10th hole. Cabrera hit first, hitting his iron 15 feet under the hole. Scott followed with an even better shot, just a bit closer than Cabrera’s.

As Scott’s shot landed and stopped, Cabrera, who was walking towards the green under his umbrella, turned and gave Scott a hearty thumbs up, congratulating him on a shot well played. Scott returned the thumbs up, enthusiastically, acknowledging his competitor’s achievement.

Class.

After Cabrera narrowly missed his putt, and Scott made his to win the coveted green jacket, what happened next was more remarkable. Cabrera was the first to hug Scott and congratulate him. Then, after the hysteria died down a bit, Cabrera walked over to Scott and the two walked off the green with their arms around each other, the victor and the runner up, in a show of consideration and respect. 

Total class. 

And that for us might be a good reminder of how we should act all the time, in the face of victory and defeat, both in sporting events and in our lives.

Can you see Tiger Woods doing that? Doubtful.

Much has been written and discussed about the game’s supposed greatest player in the aftermath of his breaking a rule during Friday’s round and being penalized two strokes on Saturday after his infraction was confirmed. I don’t have issues with the way the Masters officials handled the situation, allowing him to stay in the tournament when they had every right to disqualify him (although you wonder if Joe Average PGA Tour pro would have been afforded the same consideration).

The fact that Tiger didn’t know the rules after 17 years on the PGA Tour is bad enough, but the fact that he allowed himself to stay in the tournament when he could have, and some say should have, disqualified himself begs a lot of questions about his consideration for golf’s heritage. Would Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Ben Hogan have acted the same way? Who knows? But as Art Spander said in his column in Global Golf Post this week, “The man who created The Masters, Bobby Jones, once called a penalty on himself when no one else saw the violation.” Enough said.

Despite all this, I think we should focus on the positive here. Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera demonstrated true sportsmanship and total class, giving each other ultimate respect when the chips were down. And that’s how I’d like to remember this edition of The Masters.

It should always be that way.

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