Brad Rock: Utahn had 15 minutes of fame at the Masters

Published: Sunday, May 24 2009 12:48 a.m. MDT

He did it because he didn't like the snobbery at the Masters. And because he wanted to do something crazy.

He did it because he had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — particularly now that he's been banned forever from Augusta National.

"I don't care," said Salt Lake's Steven Davis. "I'd never go back again, regardless."

He did it because he "just wanted to get a laugh from friends and family and maybe make some headlines."

Still, what was he doing making sand angels in the bunker on the final day of the 2009 Masters?

"Do you want the long version or the short?" he said over the phone this week.

"Long," I said.

This was one story I had to hear from the start.

— — —

Don't get him wrong, Davis loves golf. He plays on Salt Lake courses four or five times a week. He's a 5-handicapper, but a decade ago he had a 1-handicap.

The 34-year-old West High graduate is unmarried and childless, which he says cleared the way for his most excellent adventure.

He knew before he ever raced past Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson that April Sunday, and dived into the bunker, that he would get arrested and probably lose his job. And he did.

"I just wish I'd done a full-on flip," he said wistfully.

If Davis sounds unrepentant, that's because he is. So much so that he considered showing up at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month and doing something similar.

"At that point I would be known as the Sand Angel," he said. "But when I thought about it, I decided I didn't need to go to jail again."

The plan was to infuse the hushed Masters tournament with some levity. Though he didn't bring the fabled sporting event to its knees, he did have his 15 minutes of fame.

"I was turned off by all the stuffiness and arrogance, and even the players seemed so arrogant," he said.

Despite the big stage, he didn't get picked up by the TV cameras, and only small stories appeared in the newspapers, detailing how a fan had jumped into the bunker to retrieve his billfold and sunglasses.

"It was a lot more than that," he said.

He suspects there were photos taken of his stunt, but Masters officials blocked their release. Only credentialed photographers can shoot the event, and cell phones and private cameras are not allowed.

No organization is more protective of its image than the Augusta National Golf Club.

Which is largely why he wanted to thumb his nose in the first place.

— — —

Davis got into the Masters after being contracted by a golf company — he wouldn't say which — to spend a week entertaining corporate big shots and golfers. When the chance to attend Sunday's final round became available, he accepted.

He arrived in flip-flops and shorts, but noted how some in the crowd wore suits and ties.

As he watched, he started thinking about doing something outrageous. He asked a woman next to him, "What do you think they'd do if I did sand angels in the sand trap with Tiger still on the green?"

They agreed "all hell would break loose."

So he waited until Woods and Mickelson had hit to the 17th green and were coming down the fairway, then slipped under the ropes and began sprinting.

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