YOU love Augusta’s lush dose of nostalgia, don’t you? You are literally wrapped in a soft touch of sepia as you turn off Washington Road and take a careful walk up Magnolia Street.
In Rae’s Creek, the outpourings of tearful reverence could almost trigger a flood with its timeless rituals, yearnings for times past and saccharine sentimentality.
This is made up of memories, a little of that, and a glob of another. Since his Masters debut 40 years ago, Sandy Lyle has had plenty of them in the bank. The 1988 champion has been questioned so many times that even the 7-iron he used to knock his ball out of the sand on 18 is hoarse about his win and the shot he hit out of the bunker.
A blast from the club will, of course, be welcomed this week with very little fanfare. With no visitors lining the manicured fairways, the occasional “Well played, boss” from the caddie will be as rousing as it comes. When a stray ball plops into the sea, there might even be an occasional “Oh, for heaven’s sake, boss”
The roars and gasps echoed through the pines and dogwoods have always enlivened the senses and created a special kind of magic for the Masters. Lyle knows about it all. If the greatest Augusta experience was his 1988 win, his journey alongside Jack Nicklaus two years earlier always resonates with the great Scot.
In six years, Nicklaus was 46 years old, hadn’t won a major and seemed to be done. The Golden Bear awoke from hibernation along with Lyle on the final day of 1986 and launched a legendary charge that should have been followed by King Arthur on horseback.
“Jack just kept making birdies and then of course there was his eagle on 15 and the noise came from all sides,”Jack just kept making birdies and then, of course, there was his eagle on the 15th and the noise came from all sides. It felt like the noise from the clouds was going down. The force of the crowds at Augusta could not have been felt by you.
We went out with a really loose two-ball, it was like we were just playing a practice round on Sunday. If he had a decent round, then you think, ‘yes, he’d be able to finish in the top-15,’ or if he had a very good round, then he’d be able to finish in the top-five or something.
“None of us thought he was going to shoot a 65 and he didn’t give the impression that he was going to because he kind of struggled to be two under after nine holes,” he said.
At the time, we didn’t know Jack would have a 30 on the back side then. The noise of the crowds on the back nine was like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
“The photo of Jack holing the putt with his arm raised is still one of those moments that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.”
Whoever generates the hair-raising footage over the next four days will have to settle for quiet praise. Lyle will start in the first group from the 10th tee at 7 a.m. in this very distinct Masters week. The defending champion Tiger Woods and man of the hour Bryson DeChambeau will both be on the early shift within an hour of the 62-year-old Scot getting underway.
Right now, Bryson is a totally different animal,” Lyle said of the hard-hitting DeChambeau, who is going to drop more bombs than a B-52. “I’ve heard several stories during a practice round about some of his clubs and the lines he took off the tee.
What Bryson took on was terrifying. He took his tee shot over the left side on the second hole, for example, and hit his ball within the wedge of the green. Then he hit a 3-wood over the back side of the green on the third hole.
“On the fifth hole, and with the new length on that hole, he took the bunkers out on the left side and sent a 320-yard shot over the bunkers and then only had a wedge in it, too,” he said.
“It’s going to be really interesting to watch what Bryson is going to do this week. All this could be quite fun.
Entertaining and eerily silent. Again, the Masters are upon us… But not as we know it .