The final round had everything from spectacular shots from some to guy named Charl Schwartzel, a resurgence of Tiger Woods, to the sad and disappointing collapse of a 21-year-old who seemed to have the Green Jacket all but won. You could cut the drama with a knife. It was what everybody should want in the final round of a golf tournament, in that you had no idea who was going to win it until the final hole was played. A maddening eight players held or tied for the lead in the back nine. The tournament really was up for grabs.
In the end, the coveted Green Jacket went to South African Schwartzel, who shot a 66 and birdied the final four holes to win the Masters. This was the best final round by a winner in 22 years, and his four final birdies made for the best finish in the tournament’s history.
While he didn’t seem to be in contention to win the Masters (at least the gold-talking heads didn’t say so), Schwartzel started the day off hot and never looked back. Besides his final birdie to win, his two most memorable shots were at hole one, where he chipped in a birdie from 75 feet out, and then on hole three where he dropped it in he cup from the fairway for eagle. He was having one of those spectacular golf days, and it stuck with him through the day.
Now, the final round of the Masters is all about story-lines, and I am a slut for a good story-line. I must have changed who I wanted to win the tournament at least five or six times on Sunday. First, I really wanted the young northern Irishman, Rory McIlroy, to hold strong, as he had done all week at Augusta, and win, to become the second-youngest Masters Champion since Tiger Woods won it when he was 21.
I, and I think a lot of other people, wanted to see him succeed through the Sunday pressure at the Masters and win it. He was going to be the next generation golfer with the win. Instead, he had a monumental collapse, and fell completely off the leader board. He succumbed to the pressure, and it was almost unbearable to watch. Fortunately he’s young and I’m sure he will have another good crack at winning the Green Jacket in years to come.
As much as I dislike Tiger Woods’ attitude, I found myself going for a Tiger comeback on Sunday. It was fun to see the fist-pumping intensity from this man who hasn’t quite made it back to his old winning self since the collapse of his marriage in the face of multiple sex scandals. Tiger had a chance on Sunday, but couldn’t go the extra mile on the greens and sink three or four putts he needed to stand out from the rest. Tiger is almost back, but not quite.
I also wanted to go for Phil Mickelson, because I always like a repeat-champion storyline. Well, Phil was out of it early on Sunday. I liked the possibility of a repeat win by Angel Cabrera, as he was playing aggressive, seemingly care-free golf on Sunday but he couldn’t hang on as well.
So when it came down to the possibility of players like Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Luke Donald, or K.J. Choi, I didn’t know who to go for, because I don’t watch enough golf to understand what their stories are, and why I should be going for them. And when it was apparent that Schwartzel was going to win, I’m not even sure CBS knew enough about him to give their viewers any insight.
Normally, as the winner putts out on 18, they are zooming in on that player’s wife or family. Jim Nance is usually giving you the calm talk on where the family has come from, the hardships they have survived to get here, etc, etc. When Schwartzel was 18, CBS zoomed in on someone closely tied to Char, but they didn’t tell us whether it was his wife, girlfriend, friend. Here was the final drama moment and we didn’t know anything about the man who was going to win the Masters. “Why should I be tearing up during this moment?” I asked myself. “What is this man’s victory story?” This is CBS’s meat and potatoes and they had nothing for us when he won. I think they were caught by surprise by his win as well.
But, then, maybe there just wasn’t any drama to be told when Char won the Masters. He was just the best golfer on the course that day, and that’s all there is to say about it. I can’t wait for next year. I may have to clear an entire weekend.