Every year it's the same for me. I constantly worry that the Masters will be dominated by one player in a landslide victory and the dramatic walk up the 18th Hole at Augusta National on Sunday won’t be dramatic. If it’s not dramatic, well then I’ve thrown away another three full days of my life watching pointless sports when I could be outside doing something worthwhile with my life. If the drama is present and there are several players looking to win the Masters, it’s a weekend well spent glued to the TV.
Well, after all was said and done at last weekend’s 76th Masters, I’d personally like to thank Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen for making things as exciting as they can be in professional sports by forcing a two-hole playoff on Sunday. I didn’t waste a perfectly good weekend of my life after all.
Both Watson and Oosthuizen were tied walking up the 18th and neither one could sink a birdie putt to win, so they were forced to play the 18th hole again, this time in a sudden death playoff. When this happens it’s pressure time. As if playing on Sunday at the top of the leaderboard isn’t full of enough pressure (see Rory Mcllroy’s 2011 performance), playing well in a playoff takes nerves of steel.
The two seemed to handle the pressure well when they replayed the 18th in the first playoff hole. I thought Watson was going to keep the playoff to just one hole when he set himself up for a makeable, yet difficult birdie putt, but he couldn’t do it. I wondered then if Watson, who seems to have a swagger all his own, was beginning to crumble under the Augusta pressure and would hand the Green Jacket to Oosthuizen, who was the 2010 British Open champion.
That thought seemed to ring true when Watson teed off on the next playoff hole – No. 10 – and drove the ball deep into the woods on the right side of the fairway. It seemed, at that point, Watson was crumbling. Oosthuizen seemed a bit rattled as well, as he didn’t hit a perfect tee shot but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Watson’s. It is at this point in the Masters where I think Watson instantly became legendary. Deep into the woods, with no clear sight of the green, Watson, who is a lefty, impossibly hooked his second shot out of the woods, and up and onto the green, leaving the ball 15 feet from the cup. Watson was able to two-putt for the Masters victory over Oosthuizen, who narrowly missed his par putt.
It’s always fun to see a new Masters champion and Watson was no different. This year’s Masters tournament had a ton of excitement throughout the weekend. On Sunday there were two hole-in-ones. Oosthuizen put himself in the running early that day with a double-eagle shot that was simply unbelievable.
All of this golf greatness mentioned, it is and will always be Watson’s shot from the woods on hole 10 for the playoff victory that will stick in my mind. Watson swinging the club in the dirt down a narrow line of patrons and then having to jog after the ball to see where it went is unforgettable. And then to have it work out and leave the ball just 15 feet from the cup? This is the stuff of Masters lore.
“It looked like a curveball going to the right,” Oosthuizen said in The New York Times of Watson’s second shot. “That shot he hit definitely won him the tournament.”
And, of course, while there was all this greatness going on, there was some pretty bad play as well. Phil Mickelson, who I was going for, began Sunday one stroke off the lead. It looked like Phil might have a chance of playing for another Jacket, and I was excited about this prospect, but then he hit a triple-bogey on a par three that put him down too far to recover.
Then there is Tiger Woods. Tiger, Tiger, Tiger – what a mess that guy is right now. There were a lot of high hopes for Woods going into last weekend (myself not included). Woods was unimpressive all weekend. With his constant awkward cussing and kicking golf clubs, he carried a bad vibe with him from hole to hole. If I were a young and upcoming golfer, there is no way I’d like to be paired with that guy for a round of golf. Five years ago, that would have been a dream for a young golfer. Now, I’d want to be as far away from his possible. Whatever it is that Tiger has, I don’t want. He’s a raging ball of anger and it’s hurting his golf game. He tied for 40th overall and it was his highest score as a professional at the Masters.
And here’s the difference between Mickelson and Woods. Mickelson threw his chances of winning the tournament away with that triple bogey. Despite that, he continued to fight and continued to smile, continued to tip his cap to the patrons. He smiled. He seemed at ease at his performance, despite the fact that he threw it all away on one hole. Tiger on the other hand, he was just plain cranky. Somehow, I think it would be in his best interest to have some fun playing golf at some point.
Anyway, enough of the negatives. Thank you Bubba Watson for giving me the gift of yet another pleasurable weekend in front of the TV.
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