The storylines out of this year’s Masters Tournament continued to mirror those that have developed across the PGA Tour over the past three or more years. While Tiger Woods may have ascended to number one status, the level of competition from throughout the globe has leveled the playing field and any number of players can win in any given week.
Despite the claims I made in last week’s article, Tiger Woods once again fell short on the game’s biggest stage. The strength of the field proved, as it has so many times in recent years, that neither Woods nor any other golfer should be a 2-1 favorite to win a Major tournament.
This Sunday we saw a very good player, Adam Scott, finally break through to potential greatness. For a few moments, while Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott got set to tee off in sudden death, I even forgot Woods had participated on Sunday. That might have been understandable had Woods been a dozen strokes back. But at the time he was in the clubhouse tied for 4th place. The thrills surrounding every shot of sudden death once again showed that the game can hold fan interest with or without Woods.
At this year’s Tournament the intensity and pressure were natural, and the stories told themselves. It was the same during last year’s sudden death playoff between Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen. That event ended with a victorious Watson wiping away his tears on his mother’s shoulder. When Tiger is front and center, it can seem forced and over scripted even though it may be a TV producer and sports anchor’s dream.
Cabrera and Scott, an Argentine (who doesn’t speak English) and an Australian, continued to show the worldwide popularity of golf. Scott did what fellow Australian Greg Norman couldn’t do in 1986, 1987, and 1996: finish off a win at Augusta. Cabrera became the first Argentine to win a green jacket in 2009, and was vying for his second one on Sunday. Of the last 12 Major championships, only three have been won by Americans.
Meanwhile, Guan Tianlang a 14 year-old Chinese player, was the youngest Masters golfer ever and the only amateur to make the cut. Guan finished at 12 over par and took 14 fewer putts than Phil Mickelson over the Tournament. With over 1.3 billion people and a fast growing economy, will Guan’s accomplishments bring a whole new presence to the tour? His post-Tournament interview would lead one to believe so.
As for Woods, he had one of the more bizarre weeks in recent Masters memory. His two stroke penalty for questionable ball placement had the potential to become a major storyline. Yet ultimately it was Woods’ inconsistent putting that did him in. In the first round he used the putter 34 times, and didn’t make a putt longer than six feet. As has been the story for going on three years, Woods will need to straighten out the flat stick if he is going to mount a challenge to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories.
Tiger Woods changed the sport and made golf a worldwide phenomenon, ironically spawning the improved competition he now faces. Not only did Tiger not regain his authority over the field this week, the field, and the world, continued to establish they’re here to stay.
And that’s OK with me.
Pete is a lifelong Montauk resident and former sports talk host at 88.7FM WEER. He’s currently a Sports Anchor at WCBS 880 radio in NYC. He can be reached via email at Peterfmundo@gmail.com.Share