Corder: Allen basks in trip of a lifetime at The Masters

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

You’ll pardon Woody Allen if his wide grin trips you as you pass him on the sidewalk.

He’s just returned from golf’s Holyland. And, not that he ever lost his faith in the sport, but, man, can a trip to Augusta National Golf Club set you on fire again.

While he hooted and hollered at the TV like the rest of us late Easter Sunday when Phil Mickelson broke his 0-for-46-major-tournament drought, Allen was there during the practice round on Monday soaking the entire ambience in.

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If you ask me, I think he may be bathing with some of those azaleas still.

&uot;It was an absolutely fantastic place,&uot; said Allen, who went with three buddies from Shreveport, La. &uot;It’s a place you dream about. It’s hard to believe a golf course can look like that. You can’t appreciate on TV how high the hills are and how deep the valleys are. I’d given everything to be there on Sunday.&uot;

Still, he one-upped the rest of us.

The closest I got to the 10-deep crowds was putting my nose clean on the front of my 27-inch Panasonic ready to put a hole in my ceiling when Mickelson watusied that 18-footer at the 72nd hole.

Allen and his pals on Monday followed golf’s favorite sons John Daly and Fred Couples (a 1992 Masters winner), along with Darren Clarke, David Toms to name a few. Tiger was teeing off when they were headed down Magnolia Lane. The same for Phil.

Allen’s only regret is not paying homage to the King. Arnold Palmer was giving interviews on the famous Augusta veranda, but he sat out the practice round &045; &uot;It’d been good to see him, but he didn’t play Monday,&uot; Allen said of Palmer, who won four times among the pines.

Allen and friends trolled the exquisite course all day, wondering if they were walking on grass or velvet, the fairways and greens so immaculate.

This was actually the second trip Allen had made to golf’s hallowed ground. Last year he stumbled upon clouds neither Dorothy nor Toto would venture into &045; &uot;The bottom fell out; you couldn’t see the car next to you,&uot; he said.

He packed up again, reaching the unofficial Greenland &045; even sandwiches and drinks come contained by green paper and cups.

Allen had been to PGA tournaments in New Orleans, Jackson and Memphis, Tenn., before, but, as he put it, &uot;Anybody who plays golf ought to have the opportunity to walk out there (at Augusta) one time.&uot;

The memory that will be everlasting to Allen was watching Darren Clarke chip at No. 8, a 570-yard par-5.

&uot;(Clarke) hit five or six as hard as he could straight on,&uot; Allen recalled. &uot;They looked dead, and then they’d turn one time and the ball would roll right off the green.

&uot;These are the best players in the world. Just getting on the green, they haven’t accomplished anything yet.&uot;

For Allen, just getting to kiss the ground at golf’s Mecca was fulPhilment enough.

Chuck Corder

is a sports writer for The Natchez Democrat. You can reach him at (601) 445-3633 or by e-mail at