I’m in HOG world headquarters with my 3rd cup o’ Joe, Masters flags on the walls and a picture of Bobby Jones above me. I’m ready to post my (perhaps) final thoughts on the 2011 Masters. My big toe hurts, from nearly cutting it off five minutes before the final round TV coverage started. I’ve actually got golfer’s elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome in my left wrist from all of the blogging, tweeting, facebooking and high fives the last four days.
Charl Schwartzel, tears in his eyes, Masters champion
I’ll admit I knew next to nothing about Charl Schwartzel before this year’s Masters. In fact, about the only few things I know now is that he’s from South Africa, he has nerves of steel and is the 2011 Masters champion.
I was sure his lack of experience in this tournament would lead to him gagging in the last few holes. Boy was I wrong. He amazingly lit up the final nine, performing what will forever be referred to as a “Schwartzel” in my golf group: making birdie on the last four holes.
Many HOG congratulations to Charl, whose life will never be the same. Welcome to the most exclusive club in golf.
Tiger was 7 shots back when he started, and by the time he was half way done with his round he’d managed a tie for the lead. That was an incredible feat. The eagle on #8 was amazing, as he hit a shot to about 12 feet from 240+. The up and down from the left bunker to an extremely slanted green on #9 was almost impossible.
But Tiger was the only player in the top of the leaderboard who didn’t shoot under par on the back nine. Why? Putting. He missed several short putts on the back, two which were very deflating. He 3-putted #12 and missed a short eagle putt on #15 which would have given him the lead at that time. Tiger had six 3-putts on the week. Do the math. He was four shots back. No three putts and he wins.
Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz predict major record 62 from Tiger during round… yeah, right
When Tiger finished his front nine at 31 and was tied for the lead, Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz started in with the 62 talk. They were basically predicting a green jacket for TW and a major tournament record 62. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about golf, it is to never count on things before they happen.
I was amazed that Adam Scott played so well. He tied for 2nd and had a chance to win. I’m not a fan of long putters, but in his case switching to that stick was the best move he’s made. The putt he made to save par on #17 was not probable and I was sure he’d miss it.
Geoff Ogilvy was a threat with a 67 on Sunday which brought him up to a tie for 4th with Tiger Woods and Luke Donald.
Jason Day was another player I didn’t know much about, but I do now. This guy is a long hitting stud with a ton of game. We will certainly be hearing his name more in the years to come. The 64 on Friday was amazing, one shot off the tournament record.
You had to know Luke Donald wouldn’t win the Masters when he won the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday. But he came close. Luke had one of the nuttiest birdies on #18 Sunday. His stance in the left greenside bunker forced him to make up a bizarre swing which looked like it could produce a shot which could go anywhere. Anywhere turned out to be hitting the flag stick and unluckily bounding off the front of the green. Then the golf gods paid him back for that misfortune by letting him chip it in. T4.
Guys I Wanted To Win
There’s something cool about Angel Cabrera. This guy has golf balls as big as anybody. No fear. He wins majors and that is it. Angel was in the mix for quite a while, but just couldn’t get over the hump. The bogey on #16 was the end of his hopes. I love watching this guy play.
K.J. Choi is another player I would have loved to see win. Maybe that is because my golf pro says I have a similar swing, minus the “granny” part I throw in to mine. Choi was close for a while, but ended T8.
Finally, the meltdown. Anybody who golfs knows what happened to McIlroy. You could see that he was barely keeping it together on the front nine. His shots were weak blocks to the right, like on #5.
I had serious doubts about McIlroy’s chances when he hit a chip on #8 which barely got onto the green. But then he still had a chance.
When McIlroy hit that drive on #10 which bounced off of the tall pines on the left and ended up near Butler Cabin, I couldn’t believe it. The nightmare was about to become reality. All he could do was chip back to the fairway, to where he’d have a 3rd shot from miles away. 3rd shot is pulled left of the green where he then hits a high chip into a tree. You could see the life being sucked out of him at that point. His eyes looked glazed over and bags formed under them. I know the feeling, though only in my city am. Best he could do was try to make a double with a long putt which didn’t drop. Triple bogey.
I was heartbroken for Rory. That said though, he still had a great chance with the bulk of of back nine coming up and birdie/eagle holes #13 and #15.
So after the triple bogey on #10, the hardest hole on the course is next. Bogey. Leaking oil fast.
#12 produced a FOUR putt. That was so hard to watch I could hardly bear it.
On #13, thankfully the TV coverage on Rory stopped.
After the round McIlroy handled himself in a very classy fashion. He wasn’t mad or anything. Post round on twitter, he’s been very cool about it:
Well that wasn’t the plan! Found it tough going today, but you have to lose before you can win. This day will make me stronger in the end.
I know I say it every year, but this was one of the best Masters tournaments ever. With a five way tie for the lead at one point and many other players one or two shots away, the intensity was amazing.
Can’t wait until 2012.