Masters a true international event

By: Tom Campbell
By: Tom Campbell

This 2006 Masters continues the tradition as an international golfing event.

Nearly half the players this year come from outside the United States. Their presence is attracting international fans.

One man from the Virgin Islands described his trip here as sort of like going to the Vatican to see the Pope.

The closest we have to that is 'Amen Corner', but that's just fine with many of the visitors.

Spend a little time along the gallery ropes, watching such favorites as Vijay Singh, and you can hear all kinds of languages and accents.

"It's very popular in England," says John Widdup of Manchester.

The scoreboard along the first fairway displays the flags of all the countries the golfers call home.

This year there are 19...from Argentina through Italy to New Zealand.

"Favorite players, Vijay Singh," says Raj Sethi from Toronto, Canada. "I'd like to see him win...or Mike Weir, of course, who's from Canada. Then there's Stephen Ames, who just won the TPC."

As they say in the welcome, "The Masters tournament is an international competition, and all the contestants are invited guests. Everyone should be treated with courtesy and respect."

And no matter where you're from, fans from around the world share these common threads: they're amazed by these golfers' skills.

"We were just over at the driving range, watching Vijay and Tiger...amazing, them guys," says Gary Surdyke of the Virgin Islands. "It's cheating. Somebody gave them something that they didn't give us common folk," he jokes.

The common folk from around the world, gathered in Augusta to watch golf's royalty.

South Africa's Gary Player was the first international Masters champion 45 years ago. He later won two more times, and today, at the age of 70, is playing in his 49th Masters.

An international player also played a role in one of the Masters' most heartbreaking moments.

Nearly 50 years ago, Roberto de Vicenzo from Argentina had the low score. Unfortunately, he signed an incorrect under the rules, he was disqualified.

De Vicenzo is still an honorary invitee because of his 1967 victory in the British Open.

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