I pretty much glued myself to the TV for the 4 days of the Masters’ tournament. And good TV golf it was, with Tom Watson at 60 showing good form on day one, although he faded as the tournament progressed. Freddy Couples looking like a champion on Thursday, taking the first day lead by shooting his lowest ever one day score at the Masters, then dropping back on Friday but rallying on Sunday to look like a contender for a brief moment.
Contrary to all of the speculation about hecklers it appeared that Tiger received a pretty warm welcome from the fans patrons. After the first day it looked as though he had a real shot at winning the tournament, but by Sunday ended up tied for 4th place with KJ Choi while playing with what increasingly looked to be his ‘C’ game.
It seemed as though he had hacked his way out of the tournament by going 3 over by the 5th hole, then he holed one from the fairway on the 7th for an eagle and then went birdie/birdie on the 8th and 9th for a 1-under front nine. The back nine had another eagle and two birdies, only to be marred by an unbelievable 3 putt on the 14th where Woods stepped up to his short par putt and stabbed it by the hole. I was surprised that he didn’t simply self-immolate on the spot. The anger and frustration absolutely radiated from the TV screen. What was incredible to watch was Woods’ ability to continually recover from what appeared to be tournament ending shots, particularly off the tee.
Not that others, including Mickelson, didn’t put themselves in less than perfect spots and make amazing recoveries – particularly Phil’s recovery on the 13th, playing off pine needles and with a small gap in the trees to the green. He then proceeded to stick it on the green with a very real chance at an eagle putt (missed, but what the hell).
But for all of their skill and their experience it was an education in the mental aspect of the game to see what happens on the final day of a major tournament where winning means so much more than just the dollar value of the tournamen: Where they are playing for a place in the history of the game.
KJ Choi who had played like a well-oiled machine blew back-to-back bogeys on the 13th and 14th, then birdied the 15th, but his chance was gone.
Lee Westwood who looked invincible up until Sunday went 1-over par on the front nine but steadied down to shoot a 1-under for the day, which was a far cry from his 5-under on Thursday, his 3-under on Friday and is 4-under on Saturday and not enough to hold off a charging Phil Michelson who finished off his pressure packed Sunday with a bogey-free 5-under par.
Then it looked for brief moment that Anthony Kim might come on as a spoiler, starting on the 13th with a birdie/birdie/eagle/birdie run that at the end put him in 3rd place with a wonderful 7-under par 65 and a 12-under total for the tournament. This is a guy that could really blow away the competition at some point. Not just because he shot a 65 on Sunday-at-the-Masters. On Thursday, beginning on the 10th hole, Kim went 3 bogeys in a row, recovered with an eagle on the 13th and then took another bogey on the 14th and still ended up shooting a 4-under 68. Having won the previous week’s tournament and with his showing in the Master’s Kim may be on the cusp of achieving his real potential.
But at the Masters Mickelson never backed off. Shooting a 67 on Friday, ‘blowing’ to a one-under par 71 on Friday and then a pair of 67s on the weekend for a 16-under final score and finishing strong with a birdie on the 18th. A marvelous and exciting performance.
A great Masters, even though it sucked away 4 days of my life.