It happens more in golf than in any other sport: A championship becomes more about how it was lost than how it was won. The Masters Sunday will forever hold its own on that list as Jordan Spieth, on the verge of making history by winning two in a row at 22, made a 7 on No. 12.
Here is one last look at the overall scorecard for a week that the winner repeatedly called “surreal:”
EAGLE — Danny Willett
The ebullient champion and new dad seems a real down-to-earth guy. His father is a vicar in the Church of England, his mother is a math teacher and his game is no fluke. He has played well the past two years (and led the list of Players to Watch in this space on Thursday). Cheers to the Englishman. Yorkshire pudding at the Champions Dinner.
QUADRUPLE BOGEY — Jordan Spieth
The most disconcerting thing about his 7 was that his second try to get over Raes Creek was such a poor weekend-hacker kind of shot that it barely made the water. That from a prodigy whose focus and composure rank among his greatest strengths. His collapse will be the enduring headline of the 80th Masters. Although he was typically classy in his interview later, his finish left the tournament with a hollow aftertaste.
PAR — Augusta National
Par actually was a good score, what with the wind buffeting the slick greens. There were teeth amid the azaleas. It was refreshing at a time when golf has become a weekly birdie festival. Then again, as dramatic as the finish was, the week was not all that exciting.
TRIPLE BOGEY — The Supposed “New Big Three”
Spieth’s disaster notwithstanding, he was the best of the trio of young superstars. Jason Day never was a factor after the first nine holes. Rory McIlroy had a chance to make a real stand, going head-to-head with Spieth on Saturday and was just awful.
BIRDIE — The Original Big Three
There was sadness that Arnold Palmer was unable to hit a ceremonial shot off the first tee. Still, he and Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player all oozed charisma and class.
BOGEY — The Other Favorites
The golfers who we thought were going to make this such a turkey shoot mostly fell flat. Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson missed the cut, Bubba Watson and Adam Scott barely made it and never made a dent in the scheme of things.
BIRDIE — European golf
The continent has its first Masters champion since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999. Willett’s win adds spice to the return of golf in the Olympics.
BOGEY — U.S. Ryder Cup hopefuls
Based on what you saw in Augusta, which American player would you trust with a crucial shot or a pivotal putt?
BIRDIE — Champions Tour
Bernhard Langer, 58, will bring more stature to the 50-and-over circuit (which is officially now called PGA Tour Champions) by staying right up among the millennials near the top of the leader board through three rounds at the Masters.
BIRDIE — Tiger Woods’ Legacy
It will be wise for people in golf, especially the golf media, to stop the Tiger fixation because he never again will be what he was. Still, it bears noting today that, during his run, he never had one hole that became a major meltdown.
PAR — U.S. Open
Our national championship in June appears headed for a huge comeback after the debacle of Chambers Bay last year. It will be held at Oakmont, a classic venue, and it will feature compelling story lines engendered by Spieth and other loose ends unearthed at the Masters.
BOGEY — The Sport of Golf
Had Spieth plodded through the back nine with pars, the last two hours (or two-and-a-half; he plays slowly) would have been boring. But the result would have been fascinating. He would have been the youngest to win two Masters, the first to lead after eight consecutive rounds, the first to win any major two years in a row in wire-to-wire fashion. Golf thrives on stars, and Spieth and his sport lost — at least temporarily — some luster Sunday.