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.
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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.
"I ran maybe 100 yards up the fairway, past the players. I was running as fast as I could," he said. "I was jumping and hooting and hollering and then I jumped as high as I could and dove into the bunker like a swimming pool."
The gallery watched in shock.
"The silence," he said, "was deafening."
Then people started booing.
"They didn't think it was funny at all."
He did sand angels for what he estimates was about 10 seconds, then "got up and started drawing pictures in the sand. No one came to get me, so I walked out of the bunker."
Mickelson's caddie, he claimed, tried to towel-whip him off the course.
The unavoidable question I had for Davis was this: Was he drunk? One Georgia writer overheard him telling security, "I'm sobering up instantly right now."
But Davis claims he was in full control and wasn't intoxicated.
"It was a sober decision I made, absolutely," he said.
He estimates he shut down the hole for five minutes, before his prank ended.
The highlight of the day — at least for Davis — was while he was lying on his back in the sand, as Mickelson peered warily over the lip of the bunker.
"The look on his face was priceless. His jaw dropped so far," said Davis. "He looked me in the eye and was shaking his head like, 'What's going on?' I fist-pumped and said, 'Go, Phil!' while I was doing an angel."
— — —
Davis spent six hours in a holding cell before being released. It cost him $285 for the disorderly conduct citation and bail (his company deducted the cost of bail from his paycheck). He claims some officers at the station chuckled at his prank and an airline representative asked for his autograph.
I asked if he believed he accomplished anything, and if so, what.
"I think I did accomplish what I wanted to do. Basically, I was out there. I was turned off by the stuffiness and arrogance and money and the whole ego thing," he said. "I wanted to do something simple and not hurt anyone, and something almost comedic, in a way."
He admits the cops could have "toughed" him if they had wanted but were professional and gentle. A lot of golf fans wouldn't have been so forgiving. Of all sports, golf is the least likely to wink at hijinks.
"It's hilarious, some people were so upset, saying I'll never be able to come back, ever again. That's fine with me, thank you very much," he said.
In his mind, it was well worth the trouble.
"If I could go back in time, I would do it again, but I'd plan it a little better," he said. "I'd do the same thing, and I don't regret what I did at all."
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