Headlines from the 2012 Masters

Headlines from the 2012 Masters

Matthew Heineman

Tournament Recap: The big story coming out of the Masters this weekend surrounds cham-pion Bubba Watson. Watson is 33 years old and turned pro in 2003. This past weekend marks his first victory at a major and the win raised him to rank as the fourth best player in the world accord-ing to the Official World Golf Ranking. Watson is one of the few left-handed golfers on the tour and is also known for his long drives, being able to hit the ball over 350 yards off the tee.

What makes his appearance on the tour even more unique is he fact that he has never taken a professional golf lesson. His run at the Masters this year was incredible. His first three rounds he shot a 69, 71 and 70, respectively, to put him at six-under-par and three strokes off the lead entering into Sunday. Sunday, he shot a 68 moving to 10-under-par and forcing a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen. Watson sealed his victory with a remarkable shot on the 10th hole (second playoff hole), using his patented pink driver from the trees to reach the green, 15 feet from the hole. Although he didn’t win, the runner-up Oosthuizen had a tournament to remember as well. He hit a double eagle on the second hole during Sunday’s fourth round. It was only the fourth time in history that it has been done at Augusta National and the first time on that hole. Other notable performances from the Masters include Mickelson’s remarkable round on Saturday and Rory McIlroy’s uneven perfor-mance. For his third round, Mickelson shot a 66, moving him to eight-under-par heading into Sunday. Unfortunately, he couldn’t capitalize, fin-ishing a couple of strokes behind the champion and was unable to capture his fourth green jacket. McIlroy entered Saturday at four-under-par but shot terribly his final two rounds, picking up nine strokes and finishing at five-over-par. His struggles at Augusta continued and if he wants to take that next step as a golfer, he’s going to have to learn to play better there.

Tiger Woods Struggles: One of the major storylines from the Masters this weekend was the disheartening performance of Tiger Woods. He generated a lot of buzz after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational the weekend be-fore the tournament. There were whispers that the “Old Tiger” was back. Unfortunately, he had a terrible outing, concluding the weekend at Augusta National at five-over-par. He shot a 72, 75, 72 and 74 for each of his four rounds, respectively, finishing with a 293, his worst out-ing at the Masters since he turned pro in 1996. One could see Tiger’s frustration with his qual-ity of play as it finally boiled over on Friday. After teeing off into the bunker on the 16th hole, Woods turned around and kicked his club in anger behind him. Furthermore, Tiger’s performance at the Masters shows just how difficult it is going to be for him to catch all time great Jack Nicklaus’s record-setting 18 major vic-tories. Three years ago one considered the record simply a formality and the question was not if Tiger would break the record, but when. Now, 14 majors and four championship victories away from tying Nicklaus’s record, there is serious doubt in the back of people’s minds as to whether or not Tiger will simply catch Nicklaus let alone set the record himself. If his showing this past weekend at Augusta was any kind of marker, Ti-ger proved that he is far away from playing like he used to. He’ll get a chance to win his 15th at the US Open in June and we’ll all be watching.

New Generation of Golfers: Bubba Watson’s victory at the Masters this past weekend marked the 14th different champion in the last 14 dif-ferent majors. The last few years has marked an influx of new young talent including golfers such as Rory McIlroy, Lucas Glover, Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson. Professional golf used to be dominated by a few elite players at a time. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo have all won multiple majors over the past 20 years and usually were the favor-ites to win major championships. Over the past few years, golf has become a lot less predictable and the pool of talented golfers has grown signifi-cantly. This has made golf a lot more enjoyable to watch and follow and more of an equal talent pool. The fact that anyone on the tour truly has a chance to win a major and make a name for himself has made golf a lot more enjoyable and fun to watch.

Contact Matthew Heineman at [email protected].