Masters Tournaments may be memorable for many different reasons.
This was an anniversary year for two very different classics. Thirty years ago was Jack Nicklaus’ epic charge at age 46 to win his sixth green jacket in 1986. Twenty years ago was Greg Norman’s epic collapse to lose a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo in 1996.
The 2016 Masters may ultimately be one of those majors long remembered for its loser rather than its winner.
Golf fans watching on TV or in Amen Corner will never forget the sight of Jordan Spieth melting down with a quadruple bogey on the 155-yard 12th hole. Golf’s Golden Boy – whose name had been affixed atop the manual scoreboards for eight consecutive rounds – unraveled on Golden Bell before fighting back valiantly but to no avail.
When he made the turn with a five-shot lead, noted sports mathematician Ken Pomeroy measured Spieth’s chances of winning at 92 percent. That the reigning champ would ultimately lose by three strokes seemed unthinkable.
The golf world is just now getting to know the son of an English vicar and Swedish math teacher who prevailed. In time, Danny Willett’s flawless Sunday 67 will be regarded with more respect, just as Faldo’s identical closing score gained esteem through the years.
Any way you look at it – as disaster or triumph – this year’s Masters joined the most memorable of all time. Among the highs and lows ...
BIRDIE: Danny Willett. Regardless of how he inherited the lead, what he did with it was impressive. Making a crucial birdie at 16, a clutch up-and-down at 17 and a critical striped drive at the narrow 18th was a touch of winner’s class.
TRIPLE BOGEY: The New Big Three. Spieth wasn’t the only one walking away with regrets. Rory McIlroy failed to make a birdie Saturday in the last group with Spieth and Jason Day cooled off after coming in hot off two wins. T10s are just another failed mission for both.
BIRDIE: Grace. No, not Branden Grace, who missed the cut. We’re talking about the grace that Ernie Els and Spieth displayed in standing up and addressing their respective pain after a six-putt and untimely quad ruined their weeks. Golf is hard. Grace can be harder.
BOGEY: Phil Mickelson. Though 45, Lefty came in as the PGA Tour’s scoring leader and sporting loftier expectations than an early flight home after three doubles on Friday cost him the cut. “This is worst I’ve managed myself around this golf course,” he said.
BIRDIE: England. Four of the seven sub-70 rounds Sunday were delivered by Willett (67), Lee Westwood (69), Paul Casey (68) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (67), who each finished in the top 10 along with countryman Justin Rose and guaranteed returns next year (or forever).
BOGEY: Smylie Kaufman. There was not a lot for Spieth to envy of Kaufman’s 81 in their final pairing on Sunday, but what he wouldn’t give for his playing partner’s birdie on No. 12.
BIRDIE: Chubby Chandler. ISM agency chief had much to toast about with winner Willett, runner-up Westwood and young Fitzpatrick (T7) making Sunday charges.
PAR: Kevin Kisner. He had his rookie missteps, but an even-par round Friday kept him in the weekend and another Sunday (including crystal for an eagle on 13) sent him home to Aiken with good thoughts for future returns.
BOGEY: Vaughn Taylor. When his layup on 15 rolled too far and into the water to set up bogey, the Augustan missed the cut by one shot. But it was nonetheless a happy homecoming in front of family and friends after eight years away from the Masters.
BOGEY: Bubba Watson. Favorite barely snuck into the weekend by the skin of the 10-shot rule and jawed with a patron over who was more out of place well outside the ropes.
BIRDIE: P.J. Willett. While his little brother was winning the Masters, P.J. was winning Twitter with posts like this – “If the boy does what he should, I will be able to say ‘I’ve shared a bath with a Masters winner’ - brilliant” – and this – “Green makes you look fat, refuse the jacket.”
BOGEY: Ian Poulter. Using Twitter as a weapon again, he sparred bitterly with several journalists after one dared to call his Saturday 82 “scruffy.” He needs to lay off social media if he manages to make the Ryder Cup team.
BIRDIE: Dustin Johnson and J.B. Holmes. The two bombers finished T4 at 1-under. While Johnson in particular left a real win opportunity out there, both posted career-best finishes. “Next year is my year!” DJ tweeted.
BOGEY: Patrick Reed. The former Augusta State star didn’t break par but he did make the cut (T49) for the second consecutive year, which is not exactly what the world No. 10 was hoping for coming in off three consecutive top-10s.
EAGLE: Aces. It was no coincidence that Shane Lowry, Davis Love III and Louis Oosthuizen all aced the 16th hole on Sunday. The absence of roars for three days obviously prompted instructions from the chairman to put the pin in the honey hole where balls most commonly collect.
BIRDIE: Oosthuizen. With an ace to go with his albatross (2012), eagle (2010), runner-up (2012) and Par-3 Contest win (2010), the South African is a green jacket and low round away from sweeping every professional prize Augusta has to offer.
BOGEY: Adam Scott. The 2013 champ who entered a favorite after a pair of wins in Florida never factored for a moment in tying for 42nd.
BIRDIE: Tom Watson. Battling to make the cut one last time, Watson shed tears as he bowed out after 43 Masters in front of a standing ovation on 18. The two-time champion left one final egg salad on the 13th tee for his late caddie Bruce Edwards, then only missed the weekend by two shots.
BOGEY: Ian Woosnam. The 1991 champ exited quietly after saving par off a bathroom on the last to finish 82-81 on the 25th anniversary of his win. He deserved more fanfare than abruptly telling a few British writers, “I said in the past that if I started shooting in the 80s I would call it a day. It’s time for me to sit back and watch.”
BIRDIE: Bernhard Langer. Despite a birdie-free 79 on Sunday, going off at 1-under in the penultimate group on Sunday is astonishing for a 58-year-old. There’s a reason the Champions Tour only plays three rounds.
BIRDIE: 50-somethings. In addition to Langer, Love (51) and local Larry Mize (57) each made the cut and both spent time on the leaderboard Friday.
DOUBLE BOGEY: Angel Cabrera. With a 9 and two other 7s on No. 15, the 2009 champ from Argentina threw away a chance to contend. If he plays the fourth easiest hole in a reasonable 1-under instead of 8-over, he’s in another playoff.
BIRDIE: Hideki Matsuyama. A T7 after a T5 last year proves the 25-year-old from Japan can win a green jacket if he just tidies up his putting a little more.
BOGEY: Rickie Fowler. His ugly 80-73 (including a snowman on 13 Thursday) performance may have been the most shocking letdown of the week.
BIRDIE: Bryson DeChambeau. The low amateur made a huge splash threatening to contend late Friday. With irons named Azalea, Juniper, Keiser, Jimmy, Mr. Ward and The King all in reference to Masters lore, Augusta will long be in his sights.
BIRDIE: Romain Langasque. British Amateur champion made the cut in both the Masters and British Open. His 31 on the back Sunday matched the low nine of the week.
BOGEY: Greens. The combination of slick, slopey and wind is always tough, but when Els six-putts from 3 feet, Spieth four-putts ever and Billy Horschel has a ball blown into the water after picking up his mark, perhaps the edge was pushed a little.
BIRDIE: Troy Merritt. Perhaps the most impressive stat all week came from a rookie who finished a distant T42, but Merritt not making a single three-putt was laudable.
BIRDIE: Press building. Despite running out of chocolate milk Sunday, the massive press building adjacent to the first fairway served as the perfect office to the world’s media for the 27th and final time. We will miss it more than we missed the milk.