Not that I was alone on this journey. The entire time, I had a secret weapon: the best caddy in the biz. I can't tell you his name, but he came into my life and changed it forever. He taught me things I never would have suspected about the game and we both developed our skills, together, spanning a career that would become the greatest the sport has ever seen.
I'm still not sure he knows my name.
My caddy really clicked with me for the first time after a fourth place showing, following my first run through TPC San Antonio. Once I sunk my last par on the 18th, I was notified that my caddy had learned more about the course, so I went back to the first hole and started all over again. My caddy was more aware and helpful during my encore performance -- his suggested shots were more accurate and some of his riskier calls had more tolerance for error. My caddy had his eyes open and my game benefited as a result.
There was only one problem: he didn't learn anything about me. We'd play together for months, but he never picked up on my own shortcomings -- like how I tend to hook far too left on courses with a dogleg left off the tee, or how my accuracy in putting from distances greater than five yards is laughable (at best). For as much fun as I had developing a relationship with this caddy and grew to trust his every word as law, he wasn't reciprocating anything in this relationship. Bagger Vance he was not.
Despite that disconnect, we soldiered on and expertly navigated the gauntlet that is the PGA Tour. After facing the greatest competition of my life and besting them, I finally earned an invitation to participate in The Masters. It was a childhood dream come true and if we were to earn that illustrious green jacket, we'd first need to look to past winners. The Masters Moments mode was the natural choice to prepare for what was ahead.
There we were presented with a series of nine challenges recreating some of the more climactic highlights from the past. Arnold Palmer's final round Eagle on the 13th hole in 1958 and a three-hole performance in 1986 by Jack Nicklaus where he sank an eagle, followed by two birdies, were among the most fun and enlightening for me. Curiously, there are two tiers of success for each of these Masters Moments: silver and gold, so it's possible to pass with just a Pretty Good Moment that falls shy of the Masters.
And there was my caddy again, showing no signs of emotion, no signs that beneath that flesh and bone was the heart of a man beating. What started as a feeling of disappointment in his lack of investment in what we were doing had culminated into full distrust at this point. I mean, is this dude a robot, or what? I just won The Masters!
This moment highlighter the only real problem with Tiger Woods 12's biggest addition, that the caddy can be so effective and get me to a point where I actually care about a non-player character, and then fail to fully realize his (its?) potential. We could've been so much more, caddy! We could've been a team.
To him, this was merely a job -- he gave me his opinions and lugged around my clubs for me, but when the course was done he wasn't thinking about our future or asking me out for drinks. Once he clocked out, he was done with golf, seemingly vanishing every dusk like some kind of reverse vampire.
No relationship that has only one side invested will last. That's just a fact of life. Hopefully next year, when I make another run at it all again, he'll be a bit more enthusiastic, a bit more human. Next year, I hope he teaches me to become a better golfer, and doesn't just show me how to play.
This review is based on a retail copy of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters for the PS3 provided by EA.