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Augusta is sacred ground for golfers

By TIM GUERCIO

The Natchez Democrat

Golfers around the world have been waiting all winter for April, and golf’s first professional major, which is in Augusta, Georgia, each year.

The Masters committee extends invitations to amateur players, too.

And an Invitation is always waiting for the U.S. Amateur Champion as well as the runner-up.

In the past few years an invitation has been extended to the Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion and also one for the Latin America Amateur Championship winner.

The Masters Tournament is rooted in amateur golf. Its founder is the greatest worldwide amateur golfer the game has ever seen: Robert Tyre Jones Jr.

Bobby Jones as an amateur won 13 of golf’s major championships.

In 1930 Jones did the impossible: he won all four of golf’s majors in the same year. He did that at the age of 28, and then promptly retired from competitive golf.

Jones then went to work on constructing Augusta National Golf Club as his way of paying homage to St. Andrews Golf Course in Scotland.

It was once said that on Augusta’s hallowed grounds dogs do not bark, and babies do not cry.

This is golf’s church. Something is about you and always present. You see the course’s history in your mind’s eye.

Fiction does not exist there. Jones is there. Sarazen is there. Hogan is there, and now Palmer is there, too.

There is where invited guests chase immediate glory and compete for utter immortality.

The course is difficult and so are the circumstances. They execute golf shots with more hope than confidence.

Sometimes you meet disaster from which you cannot recover. Seve on No. 15, Curtis on No. 13, a young Rory on No. 10, Jordan on No. 12.

You must navigate the water at Amen Corner. Holes 11, 12 and 13.

Rae’s creek starts meandering through your mind long before you get there.

They know the tournament is won or lost there at Amen Corner.

History has been made there and will be made again.

Tim Guercio is a sportswriter for The Natchez Democrat. Email him at sports@natchezdemocrat.com or at 601-445-3632.