Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Masters -- Day 4 Wrap-Up

Bubba Watson taught himself how to play golf, and has worked his way rung by painful rung up the ladder of professional golf.  He's only three years younger than Tiger Woods, but he didn't make the tour until 2006, and he didn't win a tournament until 2010, when he was 31 years old.  Now he's 35, and he's won six PGA events -- two of which were the Masters.

Make no mistake:  Bubba Watson very much deserved this Masters title.  On the last day, when conditions were brutally difficult, he shot a three-under par 69 -- a remarkable score under any circumstances, but extremely impressive given that the greens at Augusta National were as fast as I can remember.

On CBS, they kept trying to come up with some sort of narrative to explain Bubba's victory -- mostly relying on the notion that he's some sort of golfing savant who can only mess himself by trying to think -- a sort of Li'l Abner of the fairways.  In reality, Bubba's game is ideally suited to the Augusta National Golf Club.  Bobby Jones's course has always rewarded guys who:  (1) hit the ball really, really far; (2) are excellent putters; and (3) play aggressively.  And that makes sense, because those are the characteristics of most championship golfers.  Unlike the USGA, which has a tendency to set up the U.S. Open courses in a manner that punishes aggressive play -- just ask Phil Mickelson -- Jones's course rewards the bold and attacking golfer.  And that's how Bubba plays the game.

Of course, Bubba was not the only story this week.  Most golf fans came into the office on Monday talking about Jordan Spieth, who looked like the Next Great American Hope when it comes to golf.  It's too early to tell if that's really the case, of course -- the history of golf is littered with young talents who never lived up to their promise.  But Spieth showed extraordinary promise last week, and it will be interesting to see what he does next.

1.  B. Watson:  -8 (69+68+74+69=280)

T2.  J. Blixt (SWE):  -5 (70+71+71+71=283)
T2.  J. Spieth:  -5 (71+70+70+72=283)

4.  M.A. Jimenez (ESP):  -4 (71+76+66+71=284)

T5.  R. Fowler:  -2 (71+75+67+73=286)
T5.  M. Kuchar:  -2 (73+71+68+74=286)

7.  L. Westwood (ENG):  -1 (73+71+70+73=287)

T8.  T. Bjorn (DEN):  Even (73+68+73+74=288)
T8.  B. Langer (GER):  Even (72+74+73+69=288)
T8.  R. McIlroy (NIR):  Even (71+77+71+69=288)
T8.  J. Senden (AUS):  Even (72+68+75+73=288)
T8.  K. Stadler:  Even (70+73+72+73=288)
T8.  J. Walker:  Even (70+72+76+70=288)

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