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Mike Sorensen: Masters is top sporting event on TV

Published: Sunday, April 8 2012 11:56 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Is there any better sporting event on television than the Masters?

If you're a non-golf fan, who believes golf is as boring as watching paint dry, you don't think so. You'd rather watch lawn bowling or women's field hockey than golf.

But to me, there's no sporting event on earth as mesmerizing as the Masters.

You can have your Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals and college football bowl games. I'll take the Masters.

Even though I watch sporting events for a living, I've never been one to sit through an entire ball game if I wasn't covering it. On Sundays in the fall, I check in on football games, but mostly watch the highlights later. NBA games? I can usually start watching about midway through the fourth quarter and see all I need to.

So what makes the Masters so special?

Let us count the ways.

Tradition

Unlike most other sporting events, the Masters is played at the same place every year — Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Quick, can you tell me where the Super Bowl was played this year? Last year? In 1999?

If you've been a regular watcher of the Masters, you know Augusta National like the back of your hand. You know all about Amen Corner, including the always-devilish par-3 No. 12, the par-5 15th where Gene Sarazen made his double-eagle back in '35, the shot heard round the world. You know No. 16, the par-3 over the water, the hilly No. 17 green, and the narrow chute golfers must navigate off the 18th tee and the steep slope to the tiered 18th green.

The Internationals

Going into Sunday's final round, you had a Swede leading by one over an American with a guy from South Africa in third. In a tie for sixth was an Irishman, another Swede, an Englishman, followed by a Scot, an Italian, and another Englishman and another Swede. Also in the top 30 were players from Spain, Korea, Japan, Australia and Northern Ireland. No other major sporting event has athletes from so many different places.

The old guys

At the Masters you have young guys, middle-aged guys and older guys competing side-by-side. What other sporting event can you find a 52-year-old in first place at the halfway point?

That was Fred Couples, who thrilled golf fans by taking a share of the second-round lead. He played with 20-year-old Ryo Ishikawa for the first two rounds (Couples beat the youngster by 14 shots over those first two rounds, by the way).

No TV commercials

OK, there are a few commercials in CBS's Masters coverage. But fewer than any sporting event on TV, or any show on TV for that matter.

The Masters controls how many commercials are on its telecast, and for years, it has only had four minutes of commercials in each hour.

Four minutes? You can get that many commercials in the last two minutes of a college basketball game with all the timeouts they're allowed.

The one problem is you may forget to have lunch or have a chance for a potty break with so few breaks. And if the action is extra good, you'll be stuck to your sofa for hours.

The Drama

No other sporting event has the drama year in and year out as the Masters does.

Last year, nine different players held the lead in the final round. First, it looked like Tiger Woods would get his fifth green jacket, then it looked like Adam Scott would win his first major and, suddenly, an unknown South African named Charl Schwartzel came roaring from nowhere, becoming the first golfer in history to birdie the final four holes at Augusta to win.

This year, only four players held a piece of the lead on the final day after eight players had the day before, but the momentum swings were thrilling. There was Louis Oosthuizen's double eagle at No. 2 — only the fourth in the 78-year history of the Masters and first ever on No. 2 — Phil Mickelson's triple-bogey blowup at No. 4 and Bubba Watson's four consecutive birdies from 13 to 16, which put him in a playoff.

Then in the playoff, Watson looked like he'd win on the first sudden-death hole, only to miss his putt. On the second playoff hole, he hit into the trees and looked to be out of it, only to hit a miraculous shot off the pine needles to within 15 feet, from where he two-putted for the victory.

Only 361 more days until next year's Masters. Can't wait.

email: sor@desnews.com

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