Sunday, May 16

An empty chair at the Augusta Masters | sports



There is an empty chair at the champions’ dinner. The green jacket club will not meet in full. Diners, former Augusta Masters winners, bump fists, wonder about their health and share memories, but nothing is the same. The looks end at the empty chair. Tiger Woods has fallen. Thousands of kilometers away, locked in his castle, the Tiger licks his last wounds. At 45, his right leg shattered by a traffic accident has taken away the moment for which he lives professionally each season, his Masters, and leaves the continuity of his imperial career on the wire.

Today the Masters begins, again in April, and with azaleas, and with a limited audience, and inevitably everyone remembers Tiger, his story in Augusta, the revolution of 97, the Tiger Slam of 20 years ago (all the greats in his power at the same time). The myth will be turned to ashes when today at 7.45 (Augusta time, six more on the peninsula), Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Elder, the first black golfer to play the tournament (1975), debuted in the trio of honor Give the symbolic kick-off to the 85th Augusta Masters.

Then let the grandparents move away quickly. A pack of hungry wolves, cannon-armed gym and lab golfers arrive in a mad dash for the green glory of the season’s first major. The trophy is defended by world number one, Dustin Johnson, who at the strange Masters last November smashed the field at 20 under par and swept Tiger Woods’ old record.

The competition is colossal. Johnson is haunted by a handful of gunpowder hopefuls. The reborn Jordan Spieth arrives with patched self-esteem after nearly four years on the couch. After 83 tournaments and 1,351 blank days, the Wonder Boy won last Sunday at the Valero Texas Open, his first bingo since the 2017 British Open, and showed that, with a clear mind, his talent is a letter of introduction for any qualification.

The board can be blown up with Bryson DeChambeau, the all-or-nothing golfer. A few months ago, his threat to ridicule Augusta with his missiles from the starting tee was half-done. Yes, he was the player who sent the ball the furthest, an average of 296.6 meters, in a list in which Dustin Johnson was sixth with 280.4 and Jon Rahm, seventh with 208.3. But he also missed 30% of the fairways and in the accuracy statistic with the first hit he dropped to 35th place. A lot of power, little control. This time he has lowered the speech. He assures that he will not use the promised 48-inch driver, the club that the leaders of golf have quarantined in the face of the skyrocketing increase in distance. And you know that in Augusta bravado isn’t worth it. The first shot is as important as the second to reach the green safely. Although DeChambeau warns: “I’m going to have something very useful in the bag. I will not elaborate, but I am excited. What I have seen on the practice field is a huge benefit. “

The report announces rain for Friday and Saturday. Augusta promises to be Augusta, tough and firm. Although it will not be like always. There is an empty chair.

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