What a day at Augusta National. The back nine on Sunday at the Masters is almost always must-see TV, but this year was ridiculous.
Plenty of storylines to go around. Gotta start with Tiger Woods returning to his old form and spending the afternoon near or at the top of the leaderboard – and in the process, making any outcome to the tournament relevant.
I mean, let’s face it. Without Woods doing his thing out there today, the fact that there were seemingly countless people in contention right until the end wouldn’t have attracted anywhere near as much attention from casual golf viewers. Tiger Woods is golf. Plain and simple. When he’s in contention, it’s something special to watch. There’s no one else like him and when he’s ‘on’ it is hard to turn away.
There was Rory McIlroy. The leader going into the final round and still the leader until the back nine until a triple bogey 7 on the 10th began a downward spiral, resulting in him shooting a 43 on the way in. Ouch. This kid will be winning tournaments for a long time but today was anything but his day.
It was almost painful to watch him out there after that triple bogey. To go from leading to several shots back in one hole, then progressively farther down the leaderboard after that is tough stuff.
You had the Australian angle with this one. Three Australians in contention to win and right until the guy behind them put his approach shot on the green at 18, two of them were looking to become the first Aussie to ever wear the green jacket.
Which of course brings us to Charl Schwartzel. How about making birdie on the final four holes to win – by two. Not bad, Charl. The fact that the CBS announcers barely mentioned him until the very end echoed the fact that this guy just found a way to make it happen at the end, without much of the fanfare the others were receiving.
It was quite an effort. Worthy of a victory, for sure. With all of the players who contended for much of the afternoon and all of the drama that came along with some very tight competition, Schwartzel made it relatively uneventful by the time he knocked in the final birdie (which at that point he didn’t even need) to win.
While I will admit that the Tiger factor makes it exponentially more exciting, I tend to watch the majors in golf no matter who’s up there at the top. There’s just something about watching these guys attempt to make shots that you know you couldn’t make if you practiced it 1,000 times in a situation where just one bad swing could cost them the entire tournament. When the level of play is what it was today, it makes it even more exciting.
Looking forward to seeing what happens at Congressional this June.