Scenes from the Masters
A visual tour from Augusta National, site of the year's first major.
Eyebrows will waggle and the mind will conjure an image of Woods being fended off by some wee, gallant man’s Sunday best.
But it wasn’t that way at all. This was the Masters of Anticlimax. On Sunday at Augusta … nothing ever happened.
We watched 47 players whaling away in the face of swirling winds, unable to make headway.
Immelman lashed to the mast with a six-stroke lead over Woods starting the day, made it in with a 75. Woods’ 72 was good enough to overtake three of the four men ahead of him — Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Flesch — but it wasn’t enough to make up the stagger on Immelman. Immelman finished at 8-under; Woods at 5-under. Tiger never got closer than the three shots he lost by. Just four players broke par. Woods was one of five to finish the day even.
Afterwards, Woods lamented a draggy putter. “I kept dragging the blade,” he lamented. “I wasn’t releasing it, wasn’t getting the overspin like I normally do. Out here, if you’re not starting the ball perfectly on line, you’re not going to make any putts.”
Interesting. But looking in the rearview mirror at this Masters, Woods will more likely rue Saturday when he shot a 68 that coulda, woulda, shoulda been a 65 if some of his makeable birdies that burned the edges dropped in.
On Sunday, he never mounted a charge. He played the par 5s in even par. All his chances on them went begging.
Asked if there were some strokes he left out there on the par-5s, Woods replied, “No doubt. I was probably about a yard off on two, just barely caught the edge of that bunker there, the only spot you can’t put it in with that bunker. On eight, I hit it over the hill and I didn’t think it was going to check like that. On 13, I missed a short (birdie putt). On 15, I had a tough up-and-down but I could have got that one up-and-down.”
Woods’ only birdie on the back came at the par-4 11th, a 75-footer he had no business expecting to go in. But the momentum was short-lived as he gave it back at 14 with a bogey.
Woods’ playing partner on Sunday, Stewart Cink, said, “He goes and makes that putt on 11 and all of a sudden he looks like there’s no way he’s going to lose. You can just see it even though I didn’t really look at him, you can see it. It’s just like an aura around him. You can feel that he thinks he’s going to win. He takes it right at it on 12. I mean, it never left the flag. You really though, ‘Gosh, he’s going to birdie every hole from here on out but he just didn’t. That’s the way Augusta National is.”
This result, of course, lets a great deal of air out of the balloon for the 2008 season. Tiger, at the height of his powers, came to Augusta with as realistic a chance at winning the Grand Slam as any golfer will likely ever have. That he could play pedestrian and still finish second is testament to how good he is compared to the men he competes against.
Cink, acknowledged that winning any tournament Woods is entered in is a chore.
“It’s kind of like trying to breathe air at the top of Mount Everest,” said Cink, who finished tied for fourth with Snedeker at 4-under. “Tiger, he’s going to win his share, no question. He had an off-week this week and it (he finished second). It’s not just (winning majors with Woods in the field), it’s golf tournaments. If you can win any tournament that Tiger is (in it’s impressive). He’s winning at like a 30-percent clip. I’m just glad he doesn’t play 40 tournaments a year.”
Woods pled the fifth when asked about any disappointment at having a Grand Slam shot go by the boards before Tax Day.
When it was all over and Immelman had finished taking his five crawling hours to complete his 75 shots, he was in the scoring cabin, signing his card.
His young son, Jacob, kept looking in around the edge of the door. Each time he saw his father there, signing for his Masters winning score, the little fella cried.
Yeah, buddy, we know how you feel. It’s not what the average golf fan wanted to see either.
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