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The Masters- A Tale of Two Styles

As usual, The Masters, was gripping theater. It is golf’s center stage and as such can reveal so much about its participants. 2008 produced a very worthy winner in South African, Trevor Immelman. The 28 year old Immelman, who has carried that “can’t miss” tag for 10 years, may indeed be the young player that we have all been waiting for, to rival the incomparable, Tiger. Only time will tell.

There were certainly a great many moments which will have been duly recorded by writers all across the world. How, during Saturday’s round, Immleman’s third shot somehow stopped on the bank of the 15th green. Long time Master’s observers, will tell you that they have never seen that happen before. How 30 years ago, Immelman’s idol, Gary Player, won his last Major on this stage. The picture of a toothless Immelman at age, 6 sitting on Gary Player’s shoulder. All remarkable stuff.

What I found most fascinating was watching the styles of the two foremost combatants. Immelman is a Craftsman/Analyzer. You hear it in the way he talks, watch it in the way he carries himself and see it in his swing and routine. He is deliberate and meticulous. Nick Faldo, during the TV commentary, relayed the story of Immelman picking his brain during a tournament in Asia, four years ago. Asking Faldo, what he did to prepare for Major’s, what he ate, how he played his practice rounds etc.

Immelman has tapes of the Masters tournaments since 1984. Not only has he watched the tapes but he has studied them as a philosopher would study an ideology. He has spent hundreds of hours watching the best players in history. This meticulous homework, is of course, pure Analyzer. But he is equally, a Cratfsman. Immelman constantly talks about the importance of his family (his brother is his caddy). During the Green Jacket presentation, he spoke about the sacrifices that his parents and siblings have made for him to allow him to pursue his dream. That none of this would have been possible, without his family.

The other featured role in this year’s event was played by Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker is a 27 year old from Nashville who was playing in his first Masters, as a professional. He is a very gifted young man, who has a savant-like, short game. An out and out Persuader. Playing in the last group with Immelman, Snedeker made 1 Eagle, 2 birdies and 9 bogeys, with 6 pars. Throughout the tumult of his round he was always smiling and waved graciously to the applause after each one of his bogeys (even though he must have been ‘dying’ inside).

Snedeker plays quickly with a sort of “throw caution to the wind” style (more classic, Persuader traits). He has a vivid imagination as witnessed by his chip shot from the green, that he sunk for a birdie on Friday. Snedeker has a ready smile for all those who acknowledge him (Persuaders care, very much, about what people think of them) and would probably be a fantastic person to spend time with. A people person.

In his post-game interview, Snedeker could no longer hold back all the emotion and was crying. Normally that would be a turn-off except that in this case it was simply the honest, outpouring of emotion, that he had been keeping in check, all day. As opposed to the way that Sergio Garcia behaved last year after losing the British Open, where he (Garcia) blamed everyone and everything else for his failure, this was, just a very real and honest explanation of how Snedeker, felt. His actions and the way he carries himself, are indicative of someone playing in their style. We have not seen the last of young, Mr. Snedeker.

Two very contrasting styles of two very admirable young men, in one very memorable, Masters.