Sunday, April 13, 2008

Some Sunday Thoughts

Remember last year? When it was horribly cold, windy, wet, and the winning score was +1? This year, Augusta National was wet - though not that wet. It was only especially windy on Sunday this year, and the temperatures were fair. The winning score this year was 9 shots better in relationship to par. Yet, somehow, I thought Sunday was better last year.

Maybe it was because there were more roars on Sunday last year - even if they were quieter. At least there were some things to cheer. This year, that was not the case. With the exception of the Snedeker eagle on #2 and Woods' bomb on #11, there was very little to cheer in the way of scoring action. The back nine was a nightmare to watch. Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey, and Steve Flesch all withered away by basically playing bogey golf. Even the best golfer in the world could not piece together a string of birdies that would make the galleries at Augusta roar with anticipation of a showdown.

In the end, Trevor Immelman won the golf tournament in what would be considered ugly fashion by traditional Masters standards. He fired 75 in the final round, and that was good enough to win by 3. I understand that scoring conditions were difficult and it was windy today, but still, these guys are good enough to handle that kind of golf any other week of the year on Tour. That means that is has to be a combination of (a) the situation and (b) the course.

Of the guys that I mentioned that melted down on Sunday, all of them have never contended in a major championship. Tiger Woods hung around on sheer will power alone and is too familiar with the situation of winning major championships. Certainly, though, there is usually a situation in which two or more players realize how to crack the code that is Augusta National. Even if for a few hours, they make birdies and eagles and challenge what they thought was possible in pursuit of a major championship. There was none of that this year. At least Zach Johnson managed that last year.

Last year, there were very few roars in the first three rounds. Augusta was taken to the bring only to be mercifully brought back on Sunday. This year, the first three rounds saw some decent scoring. ANGC must have been angered by that because the course played its most difficult on Sunday in terms of scoring average - even with the field narrowed by a cut. It was almost the total opposite of last year.

I would rather have +1 with some Sunday intrigue than -8 with complete boredom. Some of that credit is due to Immelman's steadiness in the face of tough conditions and competition. A lot is due to the fact that Augusta is different now.

1 comment:

Andy Brown said...

I think you make the most important point towards the end of your post “Some of that credit is due to Immelman's steadiness in the face of tough conditions and competition”. The fact of the matter is that last year a lot more players were in contention leading into the final round and a good distance into the final round. Trevor did not let that happen this time and that is what allowed “boredom” to creep in. Imagine what would have happened had Trevor managed to double bogey a hole on the front 9. That would have added some spice to the proceedings. Tiger Woods is doing to golf what Trevor Immelman did in Augusta, boredom achieved through execution of excellence.

This time at the Masters there were many people who believed at the end of round 2, that the men to watch out were Tiger and Phil. Their long expected charge never came. The young brigade kept marching forward and in all honesty Tiger only really managed a second spot because Snedeker and Casey completely faded away in the back 9. But Trevor Immelman put in the kind of show you would expect from a seasoned pro, split the fairway, hit the green and thus took home the Green Jacket in what turned out to be a tepid final day at the Masters.