Monday, April 10, 2006

Masters Recap: I just have a few thoughts to leave you with on the last two rounds/conclusion of the Masters. First, Phil Mickelson has truly elevated his game over the last couple years, and become more reliable and steady down the stretch. He's no robot just hitting fairways and greens, I mean the guy can still light it up when he wants, but he's less prose to the blow up that used to get him. His weekend at Augusta National was a first class effort and he deserved the win.

It was a weird day, yesterday, though. It seemed for a while like it could be an all-time classic final round, second only in drama maybe to Nicklaus' '86 win or Tiger's first one in '97, which had me checking the tv screen of every bar on Bourbon St. as we partied our way through French Quarter Fest. You had all the best players in the game, plus a few up-and-comers, some crafty vets, and one of the most revered figures in golf, Fred Couples. Man, this was setup to be the Texas Cage Match of golf tournaments, and I popped open a beer ready to pin my eyes open.

And then it sort of fizzled. It was good and all, but nobody quite made it happen. Mickelson played exceptional golf, but he didn't have to play lights out to win, just play solid. Couples had every chance to push him, and probably hit the ball better, longer and closer, than anyone all week. If he had putted even decent, Mickelson has to work a little harder and maybe he cracks. Or not, and solidifies his new reputation. I'll tell you this, though, if Couples had won it all, you'd still be hearing the roar from Augusta, even you folks up in the Northeast.

The course was lengthened and toughened this year (again) and maybe the back nine that held such drama for years is now so tough that players can't make a run like Nicklaus did in '86, shooting 30 down the stretch. I don't have the answer, but I sure wish somebody had answered Phil yesterday, and kept him honest. It could have been historic, instead of just "Nicely played."

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