Masterful moments at Augusta: Tiger triumphs; women's amateur takes off

Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Masterful moments at Augusta: Tiger triumphs; women's amateur takes off

Masters

Masterful moments at Augusta: Tiger triumphs; women's amateur takes off

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – John Kelley was 13 years old when Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters. He was positioned on the 17th green directly in line with the Golden Bear as he raised his putter toward the sky for that iconic “Yes, Sir!!!” thrill.

On Sunday, Kelley’s 10-year-old son Grady was on the rope line as Tiger Woods let out a mighty roar on his walk to the clubhouse.

“I remember all the shots,” said Kelley of ’86.

Decades from now, Grady will say the same.

It was a magical fortnight at Augusta National.

Two weeks of unbridled joy, instant classics and spine-tingling moments that will be talked about for generations.

Grown-ups who can better appreciate what it means were teary-eyed when women competed on America’s most sacred and exclusive club for the first time.

Fans the world over broke down when Woods lifted son Charlie, 10, off the ground behind the 18th green for a melt-your-heart embrace that we didn’t want to see end.

Forget past transgressions. This was a beautiful human moment between father and son.

Such moments were everywhere the past two weeks.

Moms and dads at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur were so proud they could burst watching what was once so unthinkable unfold.

It was a theme that kept repeating at Augusta: Imagine what this could do for golf’s future.

Charlie Woods wasn’t born when his dad last won a major. During the final round of the 83rd Masters Tournament, Woods’ daughter Sam skipped down behind the third green to get a closer look at dad’s first birdie of the day.

How many kids will pick up a club for the first time, or the first time in a long time, because of the 2019 Masters?

The same question could be asked of Jennifer Kupcho’s historical triumph. That 3-hybrid from 211 yards on the par-5 13th will go down in Augusta National lore.

The crowd at Augusta National has never looked more diverse, to this writer at least, than it did on that Saturday for the final round of the women’s amateur tournament. The atmosphere was a mixture of celebration and surprise. Few expected the show to be that good.

Yes, it was but one round. And yes, Augusta National could and should and maybe might do more for the women’s game.

If Augusta members have proven anything to themselves the past two weeks, it’s that everyone deserves the dream of Augusta National.

It’s too special not to share.

To those who were captivated by the gutsy and adorable schoolkids on the Drive, Chip and Putt telecast, the scene was even better in person.

Patrick Reed (left) and Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Jennifer Kupcho (right) pose with Angela Zhang from Bellevue, Wash., winner of the girls 7-9 age  group of the Drive, Chip and Putt competition. (Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)

Paige Radebach, winner of the putting competition in the Girls 7-9 division, adorably credited her great touch on the 18th green to her Michigan State logo ball. A year ago, Radebach told her parents and coach that she’d one day make it to Augusta National. They laughed.

The 9-year-old brought them all along for the ride of their lives on the eve of the Masters. Now she’ll go back home to Webberville, Mich., and dream of following in the footsteps of both Kupcho and Woods.

After all, who wouldn’t want Radebach’s Champions Dinner menu of donut burgers, French fries dipped in Ranch and coconut ice cream?

Golf needed these two weeks.

Woods, the resurrected hero who electrified the sports world, and the 30 women who stepped into history, left us all inspired.

For two weeks in April, the game’s greatest cathedral gave us more than we dared to hope.

The bar has been raised.

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