Here’s what I’ll remember from the 2016 Masters.
It’s a week like no other.
Concluding my coverage from the 80th Masters Tournament, which I’ve now done for 10 percent of them, it gives me a time to reflect and remember.
I’ll never take for granted my days inside the Augusta National gates, where every view is your favorite postcard. It’s a place where patrons are perpetually smiling, and where only the pop of the Titleist drowns out the whistling birds.
Most of all, I’ll remember the moments of the 2016 Masters.
Seeing 86-year-old Arnold Palmer warmly embraced by the grateful onlookers, without a club in his hand on the opening tee.
Listening to Phil Mickelson reflect on his love for the drive down Magnolia Lane.
For years to come, I’ll remember the creepiest new addition to the Masters souvenir shop — The Masters Gnome — because, well, I now own one.
I’ll remember the 2016 Masters as Tom Watson’s final stroll at Augusta National, and for 58-year-old Bernhard Langer’s Saturday run up the leaderboard.
I’ll remember the name Bryson DeChambeau, the low amateur with the Payne Stewart hat. His game, like his wardrobe, is classic.
I’ll remember Jordan Spieth’s dominance, and walking off of the course as the reigning champion made the turn on Sunday with a five-stroke lead, never expecting what would come next. I’ll remember Spieth’s words on Tuesday, when he talked about how hard it was to pull the green jacket from the closet of his Dallas home, knowing how badly he wanted it to return.
I’ll distinctly remember the agony — the deep, deep agony of the 12th hole — knowing that you’re a witness to history, but wishing that you weren’t. The shock of everyone on the course as Spieth’s quadruple bogey was posted is one that I won’t soon forget.
I’ll remember a text from my mom. “I hope he doesn’t cry,” it read.
I’ll remember the brief hope of a Spieth comeback. “It was very cool what the patrons here did for me. They almost brought me back,” Spieth said after his round.
And I’ll remember that, Spieth standing on a pedestal with bright lights shining in his face, calming answering questions about the pain of minutes earlier.
“I told Mike (Greller, Spieth’s caddie), ‘Buddy, it seems like we’re collapsing,’” Spieth said, holding back those tears we all hoped wouldn’t come.
I’ll remember the story of Danny Willett, a new dad who won the 2016 Masters on his son’s original due date. “Fortunately, he listened to our prayers and came early,” Willett said while wearing the green jacket, noting that he wouldn’t have competed if his son hadn’t been born the prior week.
History will celebrate Willett, but it will remember the 2016 Masters for Spieth, and so will I.
The 2016 Masters filled the spectrum of emotions.
Vince Johnson is covering his eighth Masters Tournament. Follow his coverage on Twitter @vincejohnson.