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A wonderful week

What a week.

As I was readying to head to Jekyll earlier two weeks ago, I got a phone call with a Masters Week offer: The Augusta Chronicle had a badge open for the tournament. It was a photo support badge, which meant I'd get to spend the week running back and forth between the press building and The Chronicle's photographers.

I jumped at the chance, and as I walked out on the pitch-black course for the last time Sunday night -- long after Tiger Woods had emotionally donned the green jacket for a fourth time -- I was thoroughly exhausted, but smiling.I'll probably stay on cloud nine for a while.

Just like Ralph Starling said: "If you go down there and you don't believe there's a God, there's something wrong with you."

Amen.

Part of the mental highlight reel I'll carry was Saturday's emotional farewell to Jack Nicklaus. His announcement wasn't a surprise, his comments about not being able to be competitive at the Augusta National Golf Club made it obvious.

But he couldn't control the tears on his final hole, especially as playing partner Jay Haas hugged him.

The Golden Bear went out the way he wanted: quietly and without tons of fanfare -- the opposite of his contemporary Arnold Palmer.

Still, I'll believe Jack's not coming back when I see it. I'm not convinced his heart will let the Masters' greatest champion stay off Augusta's fairways.

Speaking of heart, I'm still impressed by Chris DiMarco's play on the final 18 Sunday. Mr. DiMarco continued his history of being "this close" to the trophy on Sunday, but this time was different. If he'd been playing anyone other than Tiger Sunday, Chris DiMarco would have a lifetime invitation to Augusta today.

Monday night, Russell Langham stopped by the house and spent a few hours.

Miriam's grandparents and Russell's parents are neighbors and the two of them grew up calling each other brother and sister.

Almost two years ago now, Russell made the decision to join the military, even though he knew it meant he'd be deployed overseas during a time of conflict.

Eventually, he was sent to the Middle East, but stayed safe and is back in the states now counting the time until he can be home for good and spend quality time with his wife, family and friends.

There are thousands of stories out there like Russell's: folks who wanted to serve their country and are willing to risk their lives to do it.

In some cases, soldiers come home. In some cases, they don't.

Either way, they deserve our respect, prayers and support.

Thanks, Russ.



Web posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2005











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