April 10, 2012
A lot of things need to go right for you to win a major championship. And, of course, it helps when things go wrong for the other players in the field. Sometimes you just have to survive the pitfalls of a pressure-packed week to give yourself a chance at the end. That is just what Bubba Watson did. In case you missed it, here’s how the field narrowed down to one Masters Champion:
Tuesday: No. 12 in the world rankings, Dustin Johnson withdraws with a back injury. 96 players remain in the field.
Wednesday: Padraig Harrington and Jonathan Byrd tied for first in the rain-shortened Par 3 Contest. No winner of the Par 3 Contest has won the Masters in the same year. 94 players still alive for the green jacket.
Thursday, 10 a.m.: The first group of the day has finished the front nine. Craig Stadler is already +6. Count him out. 93 players still alive.
Thursday, 11 a.m.: Mark O’Meara withdraws with a rib injury. 92 players left.
Thursday, 3:30 p.m.: You can’t win the tournament on Thursday, but you can sure play yourself out of it. Just ask Henrik Stenson. He led the tournament at -5 as he stood on the 18th tee. He walked off the 18th green at -1 after making the highest score ever at the finishing hole. Talk about ruining your week. Other players who shot themselves out of the tournament with a 79 or higher are Sandy Lyle, Randal Lewis, Chez Reavie and Johnson Wagner. 87 players left.
Friday, 3 p.m.: Jason Day withdraws with a foot injury. 86 players left.
Friday, 6 p.m.: Lee Westwood makes a double-bogey at 18 and falls out of the lead. The lead is now -5, leaving the cut line at +5. A few players at +5 get lucky and will be around for the weekend. John Senden, Kyung-Tae Kim, Paul Casey, Mike Weir, Jose Maria Olazabal, Larry Mize, Harrison Frazar, Kyle Stanley, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer, Rory Sabbatini, Robert Garrigus, Ryan Palmer, Ryo Ishikawa, K.J. Choi, Bryden MacPherson, Ian Woosnam, Mark Wilson, Darren Clarke, Tim Clark, Lucas Glover, Simon Dyson, Corbin Mills, Alvaro Quiros, Brendan Steele and Ben Crenshaw aren’t so lucky. They’ll be watching for the weekend. 59 players remain.
Saturday: It’s moving day and if you just barely made the cut you need to go low. Tiger Woods makes his second bogey of the day at No. 9 and drops back to +3. He is done. It also doesn’t happen for Thomas Bjorn, Keegan Bradley, Angel Cabrera, Patrick Cantlay, Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker, Robert Karlsson, Ross Fisher, Scott Verplank, Eduardo Molinari, Anders Hansen, Martin Laird, Kelly Kraft, Bo Van Pelt, Gonzalo Fernando Castano or Trevor Immelman. 41 players left.
Saturday, front nine: In one of the final parings of the day, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia combine to shoot 82 on the front nine. Who knows where that came from, but it takes both stars out of contention. 39 players left.
Saturday, 4 p.m.: Gary Woodland withdraws with a wrist injury. 38 players left.
Saturday, 6 p.m.: Fan-favorite Freddie Couples’ bid to climb back up the leaderboard comes to an end with bogeys on 15 and 16. He’s got plenty of company as Stewart Cink, Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer, Bill Haas, David Toms, Zach Johnson, Aaron Baddeley, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Kevin Chappell, Y.E. Yang, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Scott Stallings, Geoff Ogilvy, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Justin Rose, Charles Howell III, Brandt Snedeker, Sang-Moon Bae, and Jim Furyk are all too far back to make a Sunday run at the Masters. 15 players left.
Sunday, 2nd hole: Louis Oosthuizen makes the fourth double-eagle in Masters history to take the lead at -10. Francesco Molinari, Nick Watney, Jason Duffner, Fredrik Jacobson, Ben Crane, Sean O’Hair and Paul Lawrie are too far off the lead. 8 players left.
Sunday, 4th hole: Phil Mickelson makes triple-bogey. No Masters champion has ever had a triple-bogey. Phil has two this week. 7 players left.
Sunday, 12th hole: Peter Hanson shanks his tee shot on the par 3. It stays short of the water but a shank doesn’t leave your mind for a while. 6 players left.
Sunday, 13th hole: Hunter Mahan fails to make a birdie and falls fives shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen. 5 players left.
Sunday, 17th hole: Ian Poulter needs a birdie-birdie finish to post a number for the leaders to think about. His birdie putt just misses and he is four shots behind with just one hole left. 4 players left.
Sunday, 16th hole: Bubba Watson makes a birdie to tie for the lead at -10. Lee Westwood is in the clubhouse at -8 and cannot expect two players to falter on the last two holes. Westwood is out. 3 players remain.
Sunday, 18th hole: Matt Kuchar misses a birdie putt that would have pulled him to within a shot of the lead. He needs both leaders to make a double-bogey on 18. Not going to happen. Kuchar is eliminated. 2 players left.
Sunday, 20th hole: Louis Oosthuizen is unable to get up-and-down from in front of the 10th green for a par on the second playoff hole. Bubba Watson hits a miracle recovery shot out of the woods and two-putts for a par and the win.
Masters Champion: Bubba Watson
April 3, 2012
This Sunday I will be teaching my son that you are supposed to collect the Easter eggs and put them in your basket, not pick them up and throw them. Meanwhile, at Augusta, someone will be winning one of golf’s highest honors, a green jacket. Who it will be is anyone’s guess, but there are a few guys we should keep our eyes on during Masters week. Here’s my top 10.
Even when he isn’t in the field of a major championship, Woods seems to be the story. Now that he’s finally made it back to the winner’s circle he is again the favorite at Augusta.
He should probably be the defending champion but strange things happen at the end of a pressure-packed major championship. He must feel like he gave the tournament away with the 80 he shot in the final paring last year. Now he has a major championship victory and No. 1 ranked player in the world under his belt and should be in the mix for a green jacket.
Lefty has won three times at Augusta. He already has a win in 2012 and he avoided the “people who win the week before a major almost never win the major” curse with his fourth place finish last week. If the patrons have their way, Phil will be one of the last to tee off on Sunday.
Speaking of people who win the week before a major….Mahan’s got a lot of momentum coming from his win in Houston. I don’t think he cares that it is extremely rare to win a major a week after a win. He’s the only player with more than one win in 2012. He finished in the top 10 at the Masters in 2009 and 2010. He’s done just about everything besides win a major. Could this be his week?
Stricker is still looking for his first major championship. He appears to be fully recovered from last year’s injury and although he hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success at Augusta, you can never count out the guy who is widely considered to be the best putter on tour.
He was one of the eight players who held the lead at some point of the final round in 2011. And let’s be honest….don’t we all want to see Scott and Tiger Woods going at it for a green jacket with Woods’ former caddie carrying Scott’s bag? I think we do.
Bo Van Pelt
Not a lot of people know who he is but he finished in the top 10 last year. He has four top 10 finishes in 2012. By this time next week people could be saying, “Bo knows golf.”
We haven’t heard much about Garcia recently. That’s probably a good thing for him. He is one of the few that made the cut in all four majors in 2011. His putting has improved. 2012 could be the year he finally gets that major championship.
He’s the defending champion and he did it in style by making birdies on the final four holes in 2011. It’s unlikely he will be able to repeat one of the greatest finishes in Masters history. But that’s why they play and that’s why we watch. You never know.
Who? I’ve never heard of him either. But I never heard of Schwartzel before the Masters last year. There aren’t a lot of guys in the field that I don’t know. But in a year where Cinderella didn’t make a lot of noise in the NCAA tournament, maybe she will pop up at Augusta National.