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‘There will be huge stakes for Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros’, says expert

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The three Masters 1000 staged on clay had three different winners. Stefanos Tsitsipas won in Monte Carlo, Carlos Alcaraz beat the competition in Madrid and Novak Djokovic won his first title of the season in Rome. By triumphing at the BNL Internationals of Italy for the sixth time in his amazing career, the world number 1 has issued a clear warning to his rivals ahead of Roland Garros.

'There will be huge stakes for Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros', says expert

Patrick Mouratoglou on Novak Djokovic

“One: Carlos Alcaraz.’ Carlitos’ is probably the most solid player at the moment,” Mouratoglou said. “He won Barcelona, he won Madrid, as well as Miami a few weeks earlier.

In Madrid, he became the first player to defeat both Nadal and Djokovic in the same claycourt event. Two: Stefanos Tsitsipas. Finalist last year in Roland Garros, Tsitsipas also had a good claycourt preparation for Roland Garros.

He defended his title in Monte-Carlo and racked up big wins over the last month.” Mouratgolou then turned his attention to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal and assessed how significant winning the event could be for both players.

“Three: Novak Djokovic. There will be huge stakes for Djokovic at Roland Garros this year,” the Frenchman continued. “He dominated across several Grand Slam tournaments last year, and this will be his first Major in 2022.

If he wins, he will tie Rafa in the GOAT race with 21 and be in great position to take the lead. Four: Rafael Nadal. He’s known as the ‘King of Clay’ and winning this year’s Roland Garros would mean taking a two-title lead on Roger [Federer] and Novak in the GOAT race,” Mouratoglou added.

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“But, he didn’t have a great claycourt [season] in preparation for the French and didn’t look in too good physical shape against Shapovalov in Rome.”

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Hamilton ‘incredibly grateful’ for F1 community support in wake of Piquet comments

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Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has addressed comments made by three-time champion Nelson Piquet that surfaced ahead of the 2022 British Grand Prix, and said he was “incredibly grateful” for support from the F1 community – as other drivers including Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel weighed in with words of support on Thursday at Silverstone.

The comments made by Piquet after last year’s controversial British Grand Prix surfaced ahead of this year’s race at Silverstone, with the Brazilian’s words coming under heavy criticism for using an alleged racial slur. On Thursday, Hamilton gave his reaction in person during the drivers’ press conference.

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“Well firstly, I’m incredibly grateful to all those that have been supportive within the sport, particularly the drivers,” said the Mercedes racer. “You know, it’s been two years since many of us took the knee at the first race in Austria and, of course, we’re still faced with the challenges.

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BREAKING NEWS: Lewis Hamilton backs down in F1 jewellery row as Mercedes star TAKES OUT his nose stud for first practice at British Grand Prix after he was threatened with a BAN if he kept it in

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Lewis Hamilton has removed his nose stud for first practice at the British Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion effectively backed down in his stand-off with the FIA to avoid a fine or suspension ahead of his home race at Silverstone.

An FIA spokesman said: ‘The stud has gone.’

This relaxed approach changed under new president Mohammed ben Sulayem. He granted extra time for Hamilton to take out his stud, which the seven-time world driver said required surgical removal.

The exemption expired on June 30 – whipping up the prospect of controversy surrounding the issue in front of 140,000 fans this weekend. Hamilton has now take the heat out of it with his climbdown.

Lewis Hamilton has removed his nose stud after being threatened with a British GP ban

The Brit arrived into the paddock on Friday morning still wearing his nose stud despite threats that he could be banned from taking part in the British Grand Prix if he continued to wear it

Sportsmail understand talks between Hamilton and Ben Sulayem are pencilled in for next week as the two look to smooth over the issue.

Though the grace period regarding jewellery expired today, Hamilton retained his contentious nose stud as he arrived into the paddock on Friday morning.

The FIA are not backing down, as Ben Sulayem is keen to stick to his insistence that the previously unenforced jewellery rule is an important safety issue.

If Ben Sulayem was not talked into a compromise position, Hamilton could either be have been fined or, in extremis, prevented from racing.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has maintained a strict view of jewellery in the cockpit

Hamilton until now had been defiant in his stance not to remove jewellery despite threats

When asked about the threat of being banned going into the weekend, Hamilton said he had ‘bigger fish to fry’.

He said during Thursday’s press-conference: ‘It’s worrying – we’ve got bigger fish to fry. We’ve really got to start focusing on more important areas.

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‘I will be racing this weekend. I’m working with the FIA. The matter is not massively important, I’ll work with Mohammed and his team to take the next steps forward.’

While the prohibition of body piercings has been in place since 2004, F1’s new race director Niels Wittich brought the rule to the fore in his pre-race notes before the Australian Grand Prix.

He then addressed the subject directly with Hamilton and his peers in a two-hours drivers’ briefing.

Wittich says the law is there to protect the driver by not hindering a speedy escape from their car.

In a show of defiance, Hamilton has continued racing with a nose stud, and at the Monaco Grand Prix, he was given permission to wear it until this weekend’s race.

Hamilton was given permission to wear jewellery during the Monaco Grand Prix until this weekend's race in Silverstone, where the Mercedes driver has been forced remove his stud

Back in May, the 37-year-old said regarding the issue: ‘When they [the FIA] told me about the jewellery, they were saying safety is everything,’ the seven-time world champion said earlier this month.

‘I said, ‘Well, what’s happened for the last 16 years? I’ve had jewellery on for 16 years. So was safety not an issue back then?’

‘I feel like it’s almost like a step backwards, if you think about the steps we are taking as a sport, and the more important causes that we need to be focused on.’

Despite taking a lenient view of jewellery in racing in the past, the FIA has enforced its International Sporting Code more strictly so far this season, clamping down on the wearing of piercings and chains.

The rule prohibiting the wearing of jewellery is Article 5 of the third chapter of Appendix L of the governing body’s International Sporting Code (ISC).

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The FIA clause states that ‘the wearing of jewellery in the form of body piercing or metal neck chains is prohibited during the competition and may therefore be checked before the start.’

It has been an unusual hot topic during the 2022 season due to the FIA’s strict approach and Hamilton’s refusal to cave in.

The topic of jewellery has been a hot point of discussion throughout the 2022 season and it even led to Hamilton joking with bitter title rival of last year Verstappen regarding the subject

 

The topic of jewellery has been a hot point of discussion throughout the 2022 season and it even led to Hamilton joking with bitter title rival of last year Verstappen regarding the subject

When it first cropped up in Melbourne, Hamilton was in a press conference with last year’s title rival Max Verstappen.

When asked in the press conference how it would affect him, he said: ‘Well, I’ve got certain piercings that I really just can’t take out that not many people know of. No. I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

‘OK, I mean, it’s been the rule forever. Since I’ve been here, it’s been the rule, so there’s nothing new. I’m just going to come up with more jewellery next week.’

When reigning world champion Verstappen was asked for his thoughts on the subject, he replied: ‘Me? I will be too heavy if I wear jewellery. So it’s not possible.

‘I know you have a nipple-piercing man. Come on!’ quipped Lewis.

Verstappen made light of Hamilton’s comment as he asked: ‘You want to see it again?’

Fans will be happy to see Hamilton behind the wheel at his home race as he and Mercedes continue to look and close the gap to leading teams Red Bull and Ferrari this season

There has been uncertainty about which items are deemed safe and unsafe in cars, including wedding rings.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen said on the weekend of the Monaco GP: ‘I’ll take a little bit of extra burn on my finger to race in my wedding ring. And if something was going to happen, something bad, I would want to wear my wedding ring. It kind of feels bad to take it off.

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‘With something like that, like your wedding ring, let us take that responsibility. There must be somehow to remove liability.’

Fans will be happy to see Hamilton behind the wheel at his home race and hope he will be able to mount a challenge against Red Bull and Ferrari.

He arrives into the weekend 98 points behind Max Verstappen and appears to be out of the title fight.

Though there is hope Mercedes could threaten the two leading teams and give Hamilton and his team-mate George Russell a shot of glory at Silverstone.

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Serena Williams’s Husband Alexis Ohanian Gets Super Honest About Their Relationship

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It’s not always easy for the U.S. Open star and Reddit co-founder.

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Novak Djokovic’s family are big Venus Williams fans as tennis legends share sweet moment at Wimbledon

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Novak Djokovic’s family might be related to one tennis legend, but they all had eyes for another as Venus Williams graced Wimbledon on Tuesday.

The stars shared a sweet moment as Venus met Novak’s wife Jelena and his young children Tara and Stefan at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon.

They enjoyed some well-earned down time, and were spotted laughing together before Venus posed for a photo with Novak and his family.

Novak Djokovic and family including wife Jelena and children Tara and Stefan pose for a picture with Venus Williams during day two of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Tuesday June 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire. Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos.

The kids appeared to be collecting autographs, as both held a notebook and pen, with Stefan also wearing a heavily-signed T-shirt – and we’re sure Venus is a very coveted addition!

Venus 42, previously said that she is not playing at Wimbledon this year, insisting she’s only there to support her sister Serena, 40.

‘I hope that Serena playing Wimbledon will help you with your Williams fix,’ she added.

Novak Djokovic with children Tara and Stefan meet Venus Williams

However, that seems to have changed as she’s now set for a last-minute Wimbledon appearance after requesting a wildcard to play alongside Great Britain’s Jamie Murray in the mixed doubles.

The former world No. 1 in both women’s singles and doubles could now be set to line-up next to Jamie – who won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 2007 and 2017 – as he looks to get his men’s doubles campaign underway tomorrow alongside Brazil’s Bruno Soares.

Venus and Serena Williams
Venus said she would only be supporting her sister Serena this time – but now it looks like she’s set to play (Picture: Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic with children Tara and Stefan meet Venus Williams during day two of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Tuesday June 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire. Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos.
The pair seemed to have a blast together (Picture: PA)

It would not be the first time one of the Murray brothers will have teamed up with one of the Williams sisters, with Andy and Serena teaming up back in 2019.

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Novak, meanwhile, has had a tough start to the competition, admitting his first round win on day one of the competition was ‘difficult’.

The reigning Wimbledon champion beat Kwon Soon-woo to advance to the next round of the championships but it was far from a routine victory for the Serbian.

‘Credit to Kwon for playing some really high-quality tennis, he definitely deserves an applause,’ he said after the match.

‘Starting the tournament, I didn’t have any lead-up or preparation tournaments prior to this so you’re always going to feel a bit less comfortable than you would like, particularly if you’re playing against someone as talented as Kwon who stays close to the line and hits really clean.

‘It was difficult to go through him, so I had to figure out a way to get in control, it wasn’t easy.’

Elsewhere at Wimbledon, Brits have been rooting for stars including Emma Raducanu, who was forced to shelter from the rain on Wimbledon’s first day.

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Four Days That Changed Golf

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Tiger Woods was not supposed to win the 1997 Masters, but when he did, by 12 strokes — one of 20 Masters records he set in that tournament — he remade the game and catapulted himself to stardom.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember on the 25th anniversary of Tiger Woods’s seismic victory at the 1997 Masters, the first of his 15 major championships, is that almost no one saw it coming.

Yes, Woods, then 21, had won three PGA Tour events, and there was avid interest in his first major as a professional. But one year earlier, as an amateur, he had missed the Masters cut. In 1995, he tied for 41st. It was accepted wisdom that grasping the intricate nuances of Augusta National Golf Club would take years. Woods, it was said repeatedly by the tour’s elders, would have to wait.

“That’s how I felt,” Paul Azinger, a 14-year tour veteran in 1997 and the winner of the 1993 P.G.A. Championship, said in an interview last month. “It’s harder than it looks.”

Azinger felt differently after he was paired with Woods in the second round. For the first time, he watched Woods hit a ball with a driver. Azinger, now 62, had never seen a golf shot hang in the air for so long as it rocketed away from the tee.

“I can still see that white ball framed against the dark trees in the distance, then the blue sky and then the green fairway — it was a bullet that seemed to never stop,” Azinger, now an NBC golf analyst, said.

The four days of the 1997 Masters would turn out to be a profound experience for those of us fortunate to be on the grounds at Augusta National, and for 44 million people who watched on television. It set records and broke cultural ground, as Woods became the first nonwhite athlete to win golf’s most tradition-bound event. It permanently reshaped almost every aspect of the game, how it would be broadcast and who might watch, and it was the first globally prominent chapter in the life of a young Black man with a catchy nickname who would soon become one of the most famous and most popular people in the world.

Although many remember vividly the moment that Woods won — the 4-foot putt and his full-body fist pump — not everyone recalls that his week began inauspiciously.

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Credit…Augusta National Golf Club

During his first nine holes on Thursday, Woods very nearly played his way out of the tournament. He shot a four-over-par 40 with four bogeys and no birdies. I realized it was possible for him to win, but it seemed unlikely. It was Augusta National. It takes time. Almost every enduring, top golfer from the last 60 years — Palmer, Nicklaus, Faldo, etc. — did not win the tournament until his fourth try. Most won in their fifth or sixth. And they weren’t 21, either.

But when Woods then shot 30 on the back nine — and was calm in the news conference afterward, as if he had expected it — that’s when I knew he would be contending on Sunday.

NICK FALDO (defending Masters champion, paired in the first round with Woods) We both made a mess on the front nine; just knocking it all over the place. I had won six majors so maybe people gave me a little slack, but for Tiger, I’m sure a lot of people were probably thinking, “Well, he’s still a little in over his head, isn’t he?”

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TOM KITE (finished second) The Tiger curiosity was very high so I have no doubt a lot of guys in the field heard about that opening 40.

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Tiger Woods teeing off on No. 18 in the first round of the 1997 Masters. He shot 30 on the back nine.
Credit…Steve Munday/Allsport via Getty Images
Tiger Woods teeing off on No. 18 in the first round of the 1997 Masters. He shot 30 on the back nine.

TOMMY BENNETT (one of many Black caddies picked by the club from the nearby Sand Hills neighborhood) Somebody told me Tiger shot 40, and I said, “Doesn’t matter, man, he’s not worried.” That kid was raised to be fearless. When I caddied for him in ’95 [at the Masters] he only put three balls in his bag and told me he wouldn’t need any more. And he didn’t. I knew he’d come back.

FALDO Tiger birdied the 10th and chipped in for birdie on the 12th hole. That shot was basically the beginning of the rest of his career.

JEFF SLUMAN (tied for seventh) The chip from behind the 12th green was incredibly difficult. Everybody watching was saying, “He’s got to be careful not to pitch that back into Rae’s Creek and make double bogey.” And bang! He puts it in the hole. Are you kidding?

FALDO The crowds around us started getting bigger and bigger and louder and louder. He seemed to feed off that. It was the beginning of Tiger mania, right? I looked around and realized that this is really something to remember.

Woods would birdie the par-5 13th and eagle the par-5 15th — for the tournament he would be 13 under on the par 5s — then added another birdie on the 17th hole. He finished at two-under-par 70, one of only seven golfers in the field of 86 to break par that day. Woods celebrated by heading to the drive-through of the Arby’s on Washington Road just beyond the club’s ornate front gate. He had two of his Stanford college buddies in the car. After they wolfed down roast beef sandwiches at the house rented with Woods’s parents, Earl and Kultida, they played basketball in the driveway and table tennis in the basement.

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Credit…Augusta National Golf Club

KITE The conditions had been so hard the first day — windy with very firm greens — you bet 70 was a good score. People noticed.

AZINGER I suddenly realized how many people were following us and how much pressure he was already under.

LEE WESTWOOD (playing in his first Masters) It was obvious how strong he was mentally, and his age did not matter.

AZINGER We get to the 13th hole on the back nine and he’s now four under par for the tournament, which is not too shabby. Then Tiger goes eagle-birdie-birdie on 13, 14 and 15.

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JIM NANTZ (longtime CBS Masters host) Tiger made the putt for eagle on 13 and I looked at my watch thinking this might be a historic moment. I said, “Let the record show that a little after 5:30 on this Friday, April the 11th, Tiger takes the lead for the very first time at the Masters.”

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Woods and Paul Azinger waiting to tee off on the eighth hole in the second round.
Credit…Amy Sancetta/Associated Press
Woods and Paul Azinger waiting to tee off on the eighth hole in the second round.

AZINGER Tiger was hitting a wedge or 9-iron to the greens on the back nine par 5s while some guys were hitting 3-woods there. Tiger looked like he wasn’t more than 155 pounds and his swing was so fierce I worried for his back even then, but my goodness, every shot had such integrity. As pros, we know it when we see it.

JUSTIN LEONARD (1997 British Open champion) We were trying to beat this guy, but I knew I couldn’t drive it as far, I didn’t hit my irons as well, I didn’t have his short game and I didn’t putt as well. You knew you were going to be able to watch history, but you weren’t going to be making any history yourself.

At the midpoint of the tournament, Colin Montgomerie, a sometimes crusty Scot who at 33 had competed in 22 majors and finished in the top 10 five times, trailed Woods by three strokes. In a packed news conference after the second round, Montgomerie said of Woods, “The pressure is mounting, and I have a lot more experience in major championships than he has.”

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Credit…Augusta National Golf Club

Before Woods’s third round on Saturday began — he was in the final grouping, the prime TV spot, with Montgomerie — Butch Harmon, Woods’s coach, put his arm around his pupil and said, “Let’s go show Colin Montgomerie who you really are.”

Woods responded, “Oh, don’t worry.”

LEONARD I would have said the same thing as Colin. As professional golfers you have to try to draw on experience if you have it, and Colin had the experience — with some successBut at the end of the day it didn’t matter at all.

Woods, in a 2007 interview on the 10th anniversary of his 1997 victory, said: “Colin’s comment did motivate me. Maybe if he had already won a major I might have let it go, but since he had not, I figured we were pretty even going into that round.”

BERNHARD LANGER (1985 and 1993 Masters champion) I had played in Thailand with Tiger when he was an amateur and it was clear as day that this was going to be a different kind of rookie on tour. In the third round Saturday he shot 65, right? Seven birdies? It doesn’t sound like he was very nervous to me.

SLUMAN He wasn’t afraid of anything. The bigger the stage the better for him. I made a comment when I was in pretty good position on the leaderboard that maybe all the guys on tour should take up a collection and offer to send him to grad school or something.

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By the third round, Colin Montgomerie knew he had no chance to overtake Woods, and he wasn’t happy about it.
Credit…Augusta National/Getty Images
By the third round, Colin Montgomerie knew he had no chance to overtake Woods, and he wasn’t happy about it.

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MONTGOMERIE (after he shot 74 to Woods’s bogey-free 65) All I have to say is one brief comment today. There’s no chance humanly possible that Tiger is going to lose this tournament. No way.

When a reporter recalled that Greg Norman in 1996 had lost a six-stroke, final-round lead to Faldo, Montgomerie snorted: “Faldo’s not lying second, for a start. And Greg Norman’s not Tiger Woods.”

As they had since the tournament started, Woods and his college buddies went to Arby’s. Then they played basketball and table tennis.

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Credit…Augusta National Golf Club

Late the next morning, Woods donned what would become his trademark Sunday colors: a blood red sweater and black pants. Before he left for the course, Woods ascended the stairs and entered the bedroom of his father, Earl, who had recently undergone surgery for his ailing heart.

“Son,” Earl said when he saw Tiger, “this is probably going to be one of the toughest rounds you’ve ever had to play in your life.”

The day carried a weight, and when Woods arrived at the course, a visitor found him. It was Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play the Masters, in 1975. Elder got a speeding ticket on the drive to Augusta. An honorary starter at the 2021 Masters seven months before he died, Elder told reporters in 1997: “Nothing was going to stop me from getting here. I made history here, and I came here today to see more history made. After today, no one will turn their head when a Black man walks to the first tee.”

Henry Ashley, the headwaiter at Augusta National and one of about 20 Black club employees who lined the plantation-style clubhouse balcony to catch a glimpse of Woods on the first tee, told The Greensboro News and Record: “Tiger’s the man, period. He’s your man; he’s my man.”

After Woods thundered a tee shot toward the first fairway, the congregation of club employees remained on the balcony to watch him walk onto the course. As Woods disappeared over a distant hill, the employees, one by one, turned and walked through a single thin door frame to continue their clubhouse duties.

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Woods, teeing off on No. 3 in the final round, had captivated the gallery.
Credit…Steve Munday/Allsport via Getty Images
Woods, teeing off on No. 3 in the final round, had captivated the gallery.

LANGER I don’t know all about American history. But there were a lot of scenes like that in 1997. You know, seeing Tiger win the Masters, I think, in effect, said, “You can do what I’m doing.” I’m convinced it had an impact on future generations that were not white.

COSTANTINO ROCCA (accompanied Woods on Sunday) The mood was festive, like a celebration or a big party. I’m not sure the crowd even knew there was a little Italian guy playing with him. The atmosphere was powerful.

KITE Because the final round of the Masters has seen many historic collapses, nobody was conceding Tiger the title — even if he would have had to collapse like crazy to be caught. But there was still a wait-and-see attitude.

ROCCA I did cut his lead by a stroke after the first seven holes when Tiger made a couple bogeys. Then he hit his tee shot on No. 8 into the trees and I thought maybe there’s some chance. What if I make birdie and he makes double bogey? Instead, I made par and he made birdie.

KITE It was case closed.

SLUMAN From there, a coronation.

NANTZ I talked briefly to Lee [Elder]. There was emotion in his eyes. And fatigue.

ROCCA (tied for fifth) On the last nine holes, the crowd was getting crazier and crazier, and at one point Tiger turned to me and asked if I was OK. He’s a nice guy, and I was proud of him.

NANTZ I kept thinking about how much this moment meant to so many people. It transcended the sport, and seeing Lee Elder was a visual cue to me.

As Woods, his baggy pants flapping in the wind, sank a last putt to set 20 Masters records, including youngest winner and largest margin of victory (12 strokes), Nantz said, “There it is, a win for the ages.”

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