The Masters Did Not Need Tiger For Thrills & Chills
~ Amy Lignor
There were three very awesome things that occurred at The Masters this year – two came from people twenty and under, and one stellar moment came from a trio of men who haven’t seen the age of twenty in a while, but have green jackets all over their houses.
At the very start of this tournament, more and more people – on T.V. and in the newspapers – talked about Tiger Woods, and how it was such a shame he would not be playing because of his surgery. Woods, Woods, Woods…it was going to be unfortunate for the tournament, and even the fan count might go down because he is the popular one to cheer for…again.
However, when the balls flew into the air, it did not take long for people to forget Tiger Woods was not a presence on the glorious eighty-degree days, as sheer excitement, inspiration and thrills began.
The trio of well-known men with green jackets galore were the icons – Palmer, Player and Nicklaus. They own 13 jackets between them, to be exact, and they also wore smiles and sent those ceremonial tee shots into the air to open the 78th Masters, almost as well as they did long ago. They smiled, they hugged, and it actually gave you goosebumps seeing the literal brilliance of golf stand together once again. Tiger who?
When it comes to the two younger surprises that offered thrills and emotion, we have a toddler, and a young man who would have been the youngest player to ever win the Masters (stealing one of Tiger’s titles), if he had pulled out a better third day. Either way, didn’t matter, the kid is in and he is one of the best people have ever seen.
What he could not do was stop the Bubba train. Bubba Watson is beyond emotional when he plays. You root for that man with everything you have because you know he wants it. He wants it for his family, his fans, his friends, and to show the world that he is also still quite young and is not nearly done. Watching Bubba stand up after that 18th hole and the tears start flowing as a very young golf star – Caleb, his adopted son – ran to him to give ole Daddy a great big hug – was amazing. That was the moment that should be on all magazines and newspapers this morning, because that was the moment when Bubba positively glowed.
This is Bubba’s second Masters title. The tides changed in the final round, where that twenty-year-old man was crushing spirits and causing fans to gape most of the time. Bubba came out and took control. His final round included three birdies on the front nine which sent him to earn a three-shot victory. Bubba was awesome, but Caleb, his little boy who could not be there when Daddy won his first one in 2012, because he was being born – was the youngest man to take the show.
The second youngest, a tad bit older than Caleb, was Jordan Spieth, a Texan with fire, ability, talent, and a calm exterior. He kept his passion in check and, boy, did he show a peek at a career coming up that will be one of the most amazing to watch. He was Watson’s co-leader at five under, and finished in second place, tied at five under with Jonas Blixt.
He did have a moment in the sun all by himself. Watson actually fell behind the young Texan by two shots early on Sunday, but those birdies brought them to a tie, before Bubba pulled ahead by two shots with yet another birdie at No. 9.
This was Spieth’s very first Masters, and he did exceedingly well. Completely calm through all of it, on Sunday he began like a rocket – two birdies on his first four holes to build that two-shot lead. But Bubba – perhaps his passion, craving, or need to make it up to Caleb because he couldn’t be there the first time around, just would not go away. He did stumble, made a few mistakes but, thankfully for him, so did Spieth. It was literally a back and forth race between the youngest ever and a man who has already proven he can look good in ‘green’.
Spieth may be heralded by some after this as the true ‘Harry Potter’ of golf. Mark my words, advertisers are already pounding on his agent’s door. The kid was like magic out there, and almost became the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller did it in 1979, to win in his very first start at Augusta National. Even though that record remains with Fuzzy after all this time, it does not matter. Golf has received a new ‘wizard’ that they can watch grow, and cheer for every step of the way.
Soon….who knows? Maybe Caleb will be out there giving Dad and Spieth a run for their money.