I have only one golf painting in my house, and it's there to remind me of two things. First, that I'm an idiot, and second, that the closest thing to perfection in golf is Augusta National. I came by the painting as I was searching for something in the Augusta National golf shop that would sum up my experience as a Masters contestant in 1999.
That year, my first and only Masters (below), I took the course with the knowledge of the game's greatest player in my head. My friend Glen Day, a colorful Tour pro, was tight with six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus. A few weeks before the event, Glen asked Jack to go over each hole and pin location and explain how to play the course. Glen and I played a practice round on the Tuesday of the Masters while going over Jack's notes in forensic detail. When the whistle blew, I never felt more comfortable on a course, and after the first round I was tied for the lead.
On Friday, I fell back but made the cut easily, and my goal for the weekend was to finish in the top 16 and earn an automatic invite back. On Saturday the magic returned, and through seven holes I hadn't missed a shot. Coming off a birdie on 7, I was only two shots back and overcome with optimism. At that moment I felt certain that I was going to win the Masters.
Moments later I stood over a stymied lie in the trees left of the 8th fairway and mentally flogged myself. I had failed to stay in the moment, and Augusta made me pay for it. After a double bogey I finished 18th, and I took home that painting of the 8th hole. It's a reminder of my own fallibility and all that is great about the Masters.
April 9, 2012
Brandel Chamblee is a 15-year Tour vet and Golf Channel analyst.