Absolutely everybody knows the result by now. That’s what happens when Tiger Woods wins the Masters. The news travels far, wide and instantly and nobody has to say “Who?” or “What?”
Still, such a big victory is composed of many little triumphs and losses. Here is a behind-the-scenes scorecard:
ACE: Woods was up to the moment, during and after the round. In contrast to the grim stoicism he showed during his heyday, he allowed himself to genuinely enjoy this one. Plus, he clearly does not take himself as seriously as he used to. Of the pressure, he said, "Now you know why I'm balding." On the green jacket: “I’m excited about show-and-tell at school.”
EAGLE: Augusta National for having the guts and wherewithal to hold the final round in the morning. The Masters is the one sporting event that can dictate to TV, instead of the other way around, and it worked out great. Footnote: the expected ferocious storms never did arrive, but better safe than sorry.
BOGEY: Knee-jerk historians who called this the greatest comeback in sports history. Ben Hogan nearly died in a car crash and won the U.S. Open at Merion 16 months later.
DOUBLE BOGEY: Justin Rose, World No. 1, missed the cut.
BIRDIE: Matt Killen, Justin Thomas’ putting coach, worked with Woods earlier this year. It must have helped. (Killen’s mom, Deb, is a Long Island native.)
BOGEY: Rory McIlroy, seeking the career Grand Slam, was not a factor for a minute.
PAR: It was nice that the American millennial golfers, their careers built on Tigermania, were so ebullient about their idol’s win. But it would have been nice if at least one of them had put real pressure on him down the stretch. Where was Bob May when he was needed?
BIRDIE: And you thought Tiger waited a long time, with 14 years between green jackets. Caddie Joe LaCava had a Masters-winning loop for the first time in 27 years (Fred Couples, 1992).
BOGEY: Francesco Molinari had an epic collapse, following his water ball on No. 12 with a hacker-like chunk into the drink on No. 15. But he does get points for having said ahead of time that his win over Woods at the British Open last year would have no bearing. Plus, he was the only golfer in the field noticeably disappointed about not winning.
BIRDIE: Chewing gum. Phil Mickelson and Woods were chomping on it all tournament. Mickelson had a quasi-scientific explanation of its benefits. Woods was more direct: “It curbs my appetite a little bit.”
ACE: Before Bryson DeChambeau fell apart on Friday, he had an entertaining news conference as co-leader Thursday. He admitted that he never had made a hole-in-one. On Sunday morning, he got one, on No. 16 (as did Justin Thomas).
BIRDIE: The course was wet, soft and fairly slow. And still it didn’t yield ridiculously low scores. Woods won at 13-under.
BOGEY: The par-5s at Augusta National, especially the ones on the back nine, are basically automatic birdies. You can get nipped if you hit a really awful shot, but there is very little strategic risk-reward value. Masters chairman Fred Ridley said there are ways to toughen holes such as No. 13 without simply adding length. Now’s the time to explore.
BIRDIE: Jack Nicklaus still is ultra-relevant. He videotaped his arrival, reminiscing on 60 years since his first Masters. He wrote a love letter to the course and tournament. He had a wonderful news conference with Gary Player after being an honorary starter. And now his record of 18 major championships is back in the conversation.
EAGLE: The PGA of America drew much skepticism for moving the PGA Championship from August to May. Now, it looks like genius scheduling. The major that always has been fourth of the four is in prime position to take advantage of the new interest in Woods.
DOUBLE EAGLE: Public golfers this week can pay their green fees and play Bethpage Black, knowing that Woods will be chasing history there in exactly one month.