Hate To Be Rude: A Masters for the ages

Bubba Watson's dramatic, two-hole playoff victory at the 2012 Masters goes down as one of the most memorable majors in history.

Bubba Watson's dramatic, two-hole playoff victory at the 2012 Masters goes down as one of the most memorable majors in history.

Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday.

I’m not sure where this fast-and-furious Masters ranks on the all-time list, but it’s way up there. Of the 26 Masters your correspondent has attended, in terms of drama it falls not far behind the 2004 Masters, in which Phil Mickelson birdied five of the last seven holes to overtake Ernie Els by a stroke for his first major title.

Like this one, the ’04 event had nonstop drama and remarkable hole-outs under serious heat. I can’t recall another Masters where it was so hard to keep up with the thrill-a-minute proceedings while taking copious notes, though last year’s edition came close.

• • •

Where does this one rank among all major championships? Depends whom you ask. Here are one man’s favorite 20 majors, based mainly on how dramatic, riveting and significant they were. Remember, the San Antonio Spurs have been significant but not always exciting.

1. 1913 U.S. Open: Francis Ouimet victory over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray boosts U.S. golf.

2. 1960 U.S. Open: Coronation of Arnold Palmer, end of Ben Hogan, start of Jack Nicklaus.

3. 1986 Masters: Nicklaus wins sixth jacket at 46.

4. 2000 PGA: Duel against Bob May was arguably Tiger Woods’ most exciting major.

5. 1977 British Open: Tom Watson beats Nicklaus in the “Duel in the Sun” at Turnberry.

6. 1950 U.S. Open: Hogan wins at Merion 16 months after car crash.

7. 2000 U.S. Open: Woods wins by 15, biggest major rout.

8. 2009 British Open: Watson comes inches from winning British Open a few weeks before turning 60.

9. 2004 Masters: Holeouts galore as Mickelson overtakes Els.

10. 2008 U.S. Open: Wow factor Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and then Wednesday when Woods told the world he had a broken leg that needed surgery.

11. 1930 U.S. Amateur: Bobby Jones completes Grand Slam at Merion.

12. 1997 Masters: After opening 40, rookie Woods wins by 12.

13. 1999 British Open: The Jean Van de Velde explosion.

14. 1955 U.S. Open: Club pro Jack Fleck denies Hogan fifth U.S. Open.

15. 1973 U.S. Open: Johnny Miller shoots 63 at Oakmont.

16. 2012 Masters: Bubba Golf beats Louie Golf and others.

17. 1987 Masters: Larry Mize’s overtime chip-in stuns Greg Norman.

18. 1953 British Open: Wee Ice Mon Hogan conquers Carnoustie.

19. 1964 U.S. Open: Ken Venturi barely beats heat exhaustion.

20. 1996 Masters: Nick Faldo rallies from six back to beat Norman.

• • •

• Best I can tell, Bubba Watson’s game is this: Big Cat Williams meets Corey Pavin.

• Saw playful Bubba on The Late Show with David Letterman on Tuesday night. He did fine, but the stretch run at the Masters seemed to come a lot easier to him.

In Letterman’s chair, he looked more nervous than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

• Got a hunch, bet a bunch. Hunch wrong, bunch gone. So, call it a hunch, but I’d wager anyone a friendly hundo that Augusta National has a female member by year’s end.

• Yes, everyone remembers Louis Oosthuizen for his double eagle on the second hole Sunday. I’ll remember him as someone who made one clutch putt after another when in or around the lead.

The scorecard reads: par putts made from 15, 12 and 10 feet at Nos. 3, 6 and 14, respectively, and a key birdie from 10 feet at 15.

• OK, next major up is the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, which seems to bring out the best in the underdog.

Of course, in Opens there Fleck somehow beat Hogan in 1955; Billy Casper (not quite an underdog with 51 Tour victories) rallied to beat Palmer in ’66; Scott Simpson defeated Tom Watson in ’87; and Lee Janzen handled Payne Stewart in ’98. Each loser is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

What’s more, in two Tour Championships there in 1993-94, Mark McCumber beat Fuzzy Zoeller in a playoff and Jim Gallagher Jr. won by a stroke over a group that included Norman.

Based on that interesting history, I’m seeing Kevin Na take down Woods in June.

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