At the end of a Master’s filled with more intriguing storylines than any other golf tournament in recent memory, there’s still only two players you really need to know about — Tiger and Phil.
The champ deserves to go last, so we’ll start with Tiger. As for his play, Tiger Woods is back. In fact, he never left. I realized this as I was watching Tiger raise his putter in the air and chase his eagle put into the 15th hole during round one. The spectacular Tiger is still there — golf fans will never be able to not cheer for his golf, his personal life aside. I realized this as I watched the final round — I wanted his putts to fall, for him to charge up the leaderboard and take control of the tournament. It didn’t happen, but I wanted it to. I think most golf fans feel likewise. Tiger struggled with his game all week — at times he looked flat-out horrible. Yet somehow he ended the tournament 11 under par. Unbelievable. I expect him to play very few tournaments this year, but I think he’ll win a major. Probably at the British. Tiger’s game will be fine.
I was however a little bit startled by Tiger’s on course behavior. Millions of fans heard him yell, “Tiger Woods you suck! God Damn it! Jesus Christ!” He even batted a short putt around, dropping a stroke at a key point in the tournament in a way he never has before. He wasn’t all smiles. And in his after round interview he backed up his behavior by saying he was playing poorly, he was passionate about the game, and he was frustrated — as any golfer would be. I say good for him. If they had a mic following around all of the other players after poor shots you would hear a lot worse. He has a right to intensity, a right to express his frustration in some manner. I don’t think he was too far out of line.
As for Phil, this was his tournament. He flat-out killed it, he really did. In all my years of watching golf this was by far Phil’s most impressive performance. The shot he hit from behind a tree on the 13th hole to set up a short-range eagle put was absolutely stupid — vintage Phil — but this time he pulled it off in the clutch. He should never have hit that shot, but I was at least happy to see that he took a 3-wood off the 18th tee for once. Today Phil showed us how good he can be — I can’t wait to see him go up against Tiger again when Tiger has sharpened his game a bit more.