10 thoughts about the Masters

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TROWLEY BOTTOM, England – The Masters gave everyone a lot of food for thought. Here are 10 random impressions from the first major of the year.

  1. Perry’s ideal situation – I can guarantee you that if you’d said to Kenny Perry before the Masters that all he had to do was play the last two holes in 1-over to win the green jacket, he’d have taken that scenario in a flash.

Perry’s a good guy, and you have to feel for him, but this Masters was his Jean Van de Velde moment.

I hope Perry can win a major this year because if he doesn’t, he’ll be thinking of those last two holes for the rest of his life.

  1. Euro Trash – A colleague emailed me after the Masters to ask what happened to the European challenge. Truth is, I don’t know. We used to practically own this event, but we haven’t won it since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999.

Europeans expected to contend played badly. Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood merely made up the numbers. At least a couple of Augusta rookies looked impressive. Rory McIlory and Ross Fisher showed they have the game to one day contend at Augusta.

We might have to wait on one of those two before we get another Euro winner.

  1. Sulky Sergio – Garcia proved he has a lot of growing up to do with his parting shot at Augusta National. Seems he wasn’t to blame for finishing in a tie for 38th place. It was the golf course’s fault.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” he said. “It’s too tricky. Even when it’s dry you still get mud balls in the middle of the fairway. It’s too much of a guessing game.”

Garcia later apologized for his outburst, no doubt at the insistence of his management team seeking damage control. The apology would have been acceptable had his outburst been an isolated incident. It wasn’t.

Remember Carnoustie? When he blamed the golfing gods for picking on him and him alone?

Sergio isn’t going to win a major until he learns to accept that the golf course plays the same for everybody. Moreover, he needs to realize he has no divine right to win major championships. He has to earn them.

  1. Cabrera’s refreshing pace of play – The new Masters winner looks like he’s out for a bounce game instead of competing under the pressure of a major. He plays quickly. If only others copied him then maybe we’d get the game moving again.

  2. Roars beat groans every time – Plaudits have to go to Augusta officials for setting the course up so that players could make birdies. We got the roars back this year, and that’s what we want.

Fans want excitement and birdies, especially on the final day. There’s no fun listening to gallery groans as players struggle to make pars.

  1. British Amateurs on borrowed time – Once again the British Amateur champion failed to make the cut. Holland’s Reinier Saxton actually played respectably to shoot 75-72, but he became the 30th British Amateur champion in the last 31 years to miss the cut.

Garcia is the only player in that time spell to make the cut at Augusta. Thank goodness the spirit of Bobby Jones reigns at Augusta, or British Amateur champions might not play in the spring classic.

  1. Phil can handle Tiger – The Sunday showdown between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods proved Mickelson has the game and the nerve to take on Woods down the stretch in the heat of a major.

Woods often seems to have an invincible aura about him on the final day of a major that unnerves others. Think of Garcia at Hoylake in the 2006 Open Championship and you get the picture.

Lefty outscored Woods, shooting 67 to Tiger’s 68. Too bad they weren’t playing in the last group. Hopefully that happens in one of the three majors this year. I’m betting Phil won’t back off if they’re paired together again.

  1. There is a place for the oldies – Peter Alliss had a great idea to honor past Masters winners, at least those past champions who still want to participate but can no longer compete for the green jacket.

The BBC TV commentator suggested letting the likes of Gary Player, Fuzzy Zoeller and Arnold Palmer play nine holes each day of the tournament. Start them off on the back nine from forward tees to let the fans pay homage to former winners.

Sounds like a cracking idea to me. The older winners wouldn’t get in the way and the tees could be removed before the “real field” reached the 10th hole. No doubt it’s also an idea Augusta patrons would support.

  1. Sam’s shocker – Just as well Sam Torrance still makes a good living playing golf because his skills as a TV commentator were sadly lacking during BBC TV commentary. Torrance made a number of gaffes that were so noticeable I had text messages from friends saying how bad he was.

  2. South African savvy – Who says younger golfers don’t respect their elders? That’s certainly not true in South Africa. Trevor Immelman, Richard Sterne, Louis Oosthuizen and Rory Sabbatini showed a lot of class by gathering beside the 18th green to honor Gary Player’s last Masters. Nice touch.

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