Strike up a cheer for no-necked, chain-smoking, obese athletes everywhere. After a scintillating first few hours that saw Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson rocket into contention, Kenny Perry’s late lead evaporated with his game-winning putt coming to rest an inch away from the cup, leading to a three-man playoff between Perry, Chad Campbell, and Angel Cabrera. It ended up being probably the worst playoff in a major event in golf’s history.
The first playoff hole involved nobody coming close to making birdie; Cabrera’s tee shot went far into the woods, presumably so the Largentinian could sneak a few puffs away from the camera’s prying eyes. Meanwhile, Perry’s approach shot would have been better if he had just thrown his golf ball, and Chad Campbell’s was even worse. Campbell had a long putt to save par; he failed, disappointing the dozens of fans who had ever heard of him.
That left Cabrera and Perry on the second playoff hole, Hole #10. Perry stayed erratic, including sending a chip shot about 30 feet past the cup when he needed to get up and down to save par. Cabrera’s aim was truer; he two-putted for the win, and Perry’s bid to be the oldest major champion in PGA history was sunk.
Cabrera is an unlikely champion for several reasons. First, he looks more like a retired offensive lineman than a world-class golfer. He says he quit smoking last year, but c’mon, no way. Second, he doesn’t speak English; this makes him the first Masters champion to need an interpreter at the green jacket ceremony since Ben Crenshaw. HAHAHA, BOOM! I got you, Crenshaw! I got you!
While the fact that Cabrera doesn’t speak English by itself isn’t much of a big deal to us - we’re not Lou Dobbs or complaining that “dey terk our jerbs and golf titles” or anything - it’s going to be remarkably important to potential sponsors, who’ll probably decide to cut a much smaller check (if they don’t decide to pass altogether) for a golfer who probably can’t say much more than “I trust Titleist” in a TV spot without wandering into unintelligibility.
Furthermore, successful golfers are big draws at those corporate events where someone gets in front of a ton of rich people and tells them about the importance of focus and winning and leadership or something. It’s a tremendous waste of time for all involved, but it still pays really well if you’re good at it. Cabrera may want to pass on the speaking on those grounds, but we don’t know why; it also explains the game of golf.
Still, it was nice to see an exciting, unpredictable Masters, even if the extra play didn’t have a prayer of matching the high quality of the last round overall. Mickelson’s 30 on the front 9 and Tiger’s mini-run down the stretch breathed a great deal of life into the day, even though neither player ever even tied Perry, to say nothing of overtaking him and the lead.
We called it yesterday (bitches): the longer Tiger’s not out of the race, the longer people will watch and the more likely it is they pay attention to the endgame. Sunday was everything the Masters could have asked for, right down to a different golfer earning the title and reminding the public that there’s more than one face on the Tour worth knowing.