Eighteen of the last nineteen years the winner has come from the final group out on Sunday at the Masters; Tiger has never won a major championship when coming from behind on a Sunday; Phil has three majors while Westwood only has a handful of close calls; we should have seen it all along - this was Phil's event to win or lose and when he grabbed the event event by the scruff of the neck on the 13th hole Sunday with an emphatic six iron from the trees, he showed he had clearly opted for a courageous and thrilling victory!
While watching the broadcast I could not help but think back to the "old" days when players had legitimate shots at making eagles and birdies on the inward nine that always made for the most exciting finish in golf. The difference this year was that players seemed to have that ability on the front nine as well. I eventually lost track of all the eagles being made in my giddy stupor over how much fun this golf tournament was to watch. From the freak pine stamen event on the second green, to Tiger's hole out on the 7th, to the most fun sand shot I have ever seen (Westwood, also at the 7th) the front nine gets my vote as the most thrilling nine holes of any major championship in recent memory.
If only the powers that be at Augusta National could comprehend how much the golf community enjoyed seeing Couples, Watson and Langer have a chance; how much we enjoyed watching the youthful passion of Anthony Kim shoot 31 on the back to be in with a chance; and most of all some of the memorable shots that were played from the most improbable places on the golf course. This course set up, coupled with the near perfect conditions, made for a Masters of old - one where the roars replaced the groans and red replaced black on the large manually operated scoreboards. Please keep this balance between difficulty and achievability because it was so much better than what the last few years have held. Who cares what the winning score is? A week from now no one will remember. You got it right this year (with a little help from Mother Nature!).
Here are a few interesting points I noticed:
- KJ and Tiger played together all four days and matched each other on the scorecard every day. I wonder when the last time that happened was?
- The Phil Mickelson "pine stamen" incident on the 2nd green was the freakiest thing I have ever seen on a putting green - watch the footage here. Bobby Jones always spoke about destiny; what did this mean? Absolutely nothing in the end.
- Jason Dufner birdied the last three holes (16, 17 and 18) on Friday to make the cut at +3!
- When Anthony Kim gets hot lookout! I doubt if there are many players, Tiger included, who can match him shot for shot.
- Sergio Garcia scored 154 (+10) on the weekend in perfect conditions. Whaat? How can a golfer with such talent underachieve so well? It must be due to the fact he is playing against more than just the other golfers in the field each week.... Bad, bad attitude.
- It was good to see Adam Scott and Trevor Immelman hang in over the weekend and both finish in the top twenty.
- Y.E. Yang is a tough customer and never even got a glimpse or a mention - even after a solid 70 and another top ten finish in a major.
- Matteo Manassero is a name that we will be hearing for a very long time time. Not only did he post an excellent final score, but he did exceptionally well in most of the stat categories. He hit the second most fairways for the week!
- I find myself completely unable to root for Tiger Woods.
Stats for the top five finishers: (out of 49 players who made the cut)
Mickelson 2nd / Westwood 6th / Kim 38th / Choi 42nd / Woods 19th
Mickelson 5th / Westwood 1st / Kim 10th / Choi 4th / Woods 17th
Mickelson 45th / Westwood 43rd / Kim 46th / Choi 24th / Woods 38th
Mickelson 13th / Westwood 36th / Kim 6th / Choi 5th / Woods 3rd
Quote of the Day goes to Phil Mickelson when asked about the difference between a great shot and a smart shot:
A great shot is one that you pull off and a smart shot is the one you hit when you don't have the guts try it!
Putt Like Phil by Dave Stockton Sr. (Phil's new putting coach)
What's in Lee Westwood's bag
This Masters Week was Hard to Beat by John Steinbreder