Hillary Clinton will announce today that she is running for president. The tension is … well, bearable. Evidently she will be making this announcement on social media and that’s fine just so long as it doesn’t get in the way of those of us who will be following Dan Jenkins, tweeting from the Masters.
There are those among the pundit class who believe that Ms. Clinton is a somewhat maladroit politician and maybe so. The fact that she chooses to announce her candidacy, this way, on Master’s Sunday, is certainly a case of bad timing. For suspense, drama, color, spontaneity, humor, feel-good stories, and a whole lot more, the Masters will have it all over the Clinton announcement which is only slightly less predictable than the sunrise.
The Masters almost always seems to come through on Sunday and this year looks to continue the tradition. The first three days have belonged to Jordan Spieth, a phenom from Texas who is 21 years old and has already broken the record for low score at the end of three rounds. He was four strokes in the lead, going into Sunday’s round. That can, as golf aficionados know, go away in one hole at the Masters. Spieth will be paired with Justin Rose who won a U.S. Open a couple of years ago. Just ahead of him will be a twosome that includes Phil Mickelson whose metaphorical hot breath Spieth is likely to feel on his neck for most of the day. And, then just behind that pair is one that includes Rory McIlory, the number one player in the world, and Tiger Woods, who appears to have conquered his swing demons if not his temper and his foul mouth.
Jordan Spieth is the emotional antithesis of Woods. He plays a game that is cool and under control and sharp as a straight razor. He does not drive the ball as far as some but the iron shorts routinely land close to the flag and the putts drop with what begins to seem like regularity. He had just one bogey on the tournament’s first day and that came when he was trying, uncharacteristically, for a hero shot to set the record for all-time low score in a Master’s round and flew the green. The tension, following Spieth, takes the form of the question, “Can he possibly keep it up?” He is so young and his game is so pure.
Woods and Mickelson, of course, are both quite the other thing. Fans expect drama, heroics, epic shots, and the like on virtually every hole. In the case of Tiger Woods, the suspense this week was raised to levels that were just short of unbearable. There was talk that he might be finished as a top competitor because his short game had been infected with the neural affliction known, scientifically, as “the yips.” If Woods could not chip from just off the green, getting the ball close enough to make his putt, then he was doomed at the Masters. He would not, plainly, survive the cut and the early rounds could be humiliating for a very proud man.
Well, he did fine. If there was a weakness in his game, it was off the tee. He hit some great drives but he also hit some that weren’t so great and one that would have done every high-handicapper on the weekend muni-circuit proud. The shot was what is known, technically, as a “snap hook.” Woods dropped his club and used some graphic language for which the CBS broadcasters were obliged to apologize. Woods was lucky to find the ball and get it back in play. His approach, then, was pure and his putt fell and he walked off with a birdie. That’s how he plays.
Still, at 10 shots behind Spieth, Woods is a very long shot. On the other hand, Phil Mickelson, 5 back, has a plausible chance. He is 45, playing with house money, and it has never been his style to play for a respectably high finish. Mickelson is the guy who “always goes for it.” In an interview after yesterday’s round, he said he will be wearing black today because that color, “Helps me get more aggressive. Studies have shown that when NFL teams wear black they have more penalties.”
Well, as a matter of fact, such a study does exist. John Strege at Golf Digest looked it up. The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology under the title:
“The dark side of self and social perception: Black uniforms and aggression in professional sports.”
Well, whatever works. And if black helps Mickelson’s sense of inevitability when he is at one of those back side eagle holes, late this afternoon, lining up a four iron to carry the water and hit the green soft enough to stick… well, then, he should go for it.
Ms. Clinton, on the other hand, almost certainly will not be wearing black when she makes her announcement.
More’s the pity.