Editor’s note: James Achenbach is covering his 44th Masters, taking in all that Augusta National has to offer and will be providing his daily awards throughout the 2014 tournament.
• • •
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Without further adieu, the championship edition of Achie’s Awards to close a dramatic week of highs and lows at Augusta National.
• The Mayor of Bagdad award could be for none other than Masters champion Bubba Watson.
Lost in the Bubba shuffle was his skill at talking and explaining himself. He is extremely sincere and tries to thoughtfully answer every question. He presents himself very well. Someday he should run for mayor in his hometown of Bagdad, Fla.
• The Jordan Spieth Fan Club award is for Oliver Goss, who was low amateur in the Masters.
“That absolutely blows my mind,” Goss said of Spieth’s performance. “I knew he was such a great player and such a phenom, but to come out here at 20 and be tied for the lead. It absolutely blows my mind. I couldn’t even think about that. But I’m really glad. He’s an extraordinary player.”
• The Newcomers award is shared by Spieth and Jonas Blixt. It was the first Masters for both.
Remarkably, on a layout where course knowledge is said to be essential, they tied for second as rookies. There is an explanation: talent.
• The Big Switcheroo award goes to Blixt, who used a fade driver for the first 36 holes and a draw driver for the second 36.
Blixt is a loyal Cobra guy, so both were Cobra drivers.
• The Ryder Cup commentary award has Sandy Lyle’s name all over it.
“(Paul) McGinley has got a handful to handle,” Lyle said. “Especially he’s got to choose his words really, really well when it comes to speeches and getting the crowd going, because Tom (Watson) is an all hand at the game.”
• The Moon over Pinehurst award is just for Justin Rose.
“I don’t know Pinehurst at all,” he said, referring to the golf course where he will defend his U.S. Open title in June. “I’m going to spend a week there before the tournament and really get to know the golf course.”
• The Anti-Technology Award goes to Miguel Angel Jimenez. How can a man nicknamed the Mechanic win such an award? First and foremost, he’s a realist.
Talking about the technology found in modern golf clubs, he said, “Yeah, technology helps, too. Of course. But if you don’t know how to hit the ball, then technology don’t do nothing.”
• The Four-Putt award is for Matt Kuchar, who took four putts on the fourth green. We know how Seve Ballesteros would describe it (“I miss, I miss, I miss, I make.”), but what were Kuchar’s thoughts?
“I had a very long putt and left it 7 feet short,” he replied. “I hit a very good putt and it caught the lip and spun out with a lot of velocity. So now I had another 7-footer, and I missed it. I can’t remember the last time I four-putted.”
• The “Old guys are old” award reflects the Rickie Fowler philosophy.
“The young ones (golfers) are healthy,” he said. “We’re here to play . . . Jordan (Spieth) has obviously been playing well, and Jonas (Blixt) always finds a way to play well. I know Rory (McIlroy) came back and had a good finish. It’s always fun seeing the young guys play well. We don’t want to let the older guys get too many wins.”
• The Funny Man award is also for Fowler.
“How much has Bubba grown up in the last couple of years?” Fowler was asked.
His response: “He’s gone from like 12 and a half to 14.”
• The Young Philosopher award goes to Adam Scott.
“That’s what it’s like at majors,” Scott said. “You’re nine good holes from winning it and nine bad holes from being out of it. Without being too critical, i think I just played an average nine holes and that was going to make it hard for me.”
• The “Come back, Craig” award is specifically for Craig Stadler. Stadler said this was his last Masters, but his son Kevin played well enough to earn an exemption to next year’s Masters.
“The golf course is too long, too tough for him anymore,” said Kevin. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s gone, but I’d prefer him to come back.”
• The U.S. Open Look Ahead award goes to Chambers Bay in Washington state, site of the 2015 U.S. Open. Very few PGA Tour players have been to Chambers Bay, located near Tacoma, so there undoubtedly will be a lot of last-minute hustling.