The huge hand-operated leader boards at Augusta National are very informative and evocative, drawing praise from players and patrons who love the old-school touch. Still, they did not quite tell the complete story of the unforgettable 2017 Masters.
Here is one final look at the tournament’s scorecard:
EAGLE:Sergio Garcia. The remarkable aspect of his win after so much heartbreak was not that he maintained his belief all these years but that he really didn’t. There were times when even he did not believe he ever would win a major championship. He made peace with that thought, and with the torment Augusta had brought him. Having made peace, he made the playoff birdie that placed him in history forever.
BIRDIE: Justin Rose. True, he had the tournament all but wrapped up several times and let it slip away, especially on the 13th and 17th holes. Fact is, he did play splendidly in an event he cherishes and dearly wanted to win. He handled his bitter disappointment with tremendous class, recognizing the magnitude of Garcia’s victory.
BOGEY: The field. We all expected multiple-player fireworks Sunday but instead saw a lot of duds, outside of the final twosome.
PAR:Jordan Spieth. He fizzled from the first hole Sunday, never making a promised Arnold Palmer-like charge. Couldn’t he at least make sure he had enough club this time on 12? Nonetheless, he gets points for not buckling after falling 10 strokes behind Thursday. He enlivened the whole week.
BIRDIE: Experience. No doubt this was a brief anomaly, considering that the young bucks who normally dominate the tour are so good. But this week belonged to guys who have been around, especially at Augusta.
BOGEY: Rory McIlroy. He never did contend. What’s more, he never injected any sense of presence befitting a superstar.
BIRDIE: The European Tour. Two years in a row, it can boast of a winner in the tournament that just about everyone wants to win the most.
BOGEY: Danny Willett. The defending champion followed a lousy showing in the Ryder Cup (marked by embarrassing comments from his brother) with a missed cut at Augusta.
DOUBLE BOGEY: Bubba Watson. Compounded a poor pair of days on the course with a churlish answer when he was asked about having missed the cut. He arrogantly told a South Carolina-based reporter that golf is difficult while writing stories is easy. Watson later tweeted an apology for his poor “joke.” Judging from the syntax in the tweet, Watson probably would find writing a story very difficult indeed.
BIRDIE: The Masters committee. It runs the tournament so well that players almost never complain, which is quite a statement. The course is fair, enthralling yet challenging. Perhaps the key is that tournament officials know where to draw the line on understatement. Kudos for rejecting viewers’ suggestions that Garcia should have been penalized because his ball moved after a drop on No. 13.
BOGEY:Rickie Fowler. On the verge of breaking through for his first major championship, he dropped completely out of sight Sunday afternoon. The good news for him is that Garcia’s triumph is proof there will be many more opportunities.
PENALTY STROKE: The weather. Storms Monday and Wednesday stifled practice rounds and cost many spectators chances to see anything more than a glimpse of a few holes. Almost as bad, an early thaw then a few deep freezes killed the azaleas and other flowers, depriving the one-time nursery of its vivid color.
UNDER REVIEW: Who now is the Best Player Never to Have Won a Major? Hard to say. Is it fair to hang that on Fowler so relatively early in his career? Is Lee Westwood good enough to merit that dubious distinction? Probably “no” on both.
DOUBLE EAGLE: The tribute to Arnold Palmer on Thursday morning was absolutely perfect, like Gene Sarazen’s 2 on the par-5 15th hole in 1935.
WITHDREW: There is no telling how different this Masters would have been if Dustin Johnson, world No. 1 and the hottest player in golf, had not injured his back in a freakish mishap late Wednesday afternoon. Maybe fate finally would have taken care of Garcia anyway.