This year’s Masters Friday feels like a Sweet 16 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The early upsets are out of the way, some egos have been crushed, most of our bracket’s are busted, and a refreshing reset has set in.
Bernhard Langer and Larry Mize are headlining the weekend action! It’s amazing how some of the old timers continually deliver and the favorites disappoint. Is Phil finally hitting the wall? Maybe. As soon as Jack Nicklaus (had Phil) picks you for something, it’s like the kiss of death. 🙂
The first hole travesty that Ernie Els suffered through shouldn’t happen to anyone. Now this has zero comparison value, but I remember playing in a tournament 25 years ago and five-putting on a par-3 hole. I just wanted to climb into a shell and disappear. I cannot imagine how the Big Easy felt on the first hole of the greatest tournament on earth. It was difficult to watch and to his credit, Ernie answered all the questions with honesty and integrity.
My David and Goliath final match-up is history with both Zach Johnson (cut) and Bubba (made it on the number) shooting themselves out of contention. Zach was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a hazard on Friday and missed it by those two shots, but was already on the back-nine bogey train and headed for the weekend off.
So how’s this play out? The good news is that we are in for a surreal weekend treat. Forget about the traditional Sunday birdie barrage. Look for a U.S. Open style battle of attrition where even par is a great score and the toughest course conditions in years force the players to grind grind grind. I think this favors all the ex-U.S. Open champions in the field. Obviously Spieth has to be favored. He has the toughest demeanor in the game and the guts around the green. If the wind continues to blow, the good ball strikers like Rory and Dustin Johnson should be right there although neither of them putt as well as Spieth. If Justin Rose can banish any putting demons, he has a shot. Jason Day has a good patient approach and figures to be right there on Sunday, but flights it a little high which could be a problem if the wind is a factor. And finally, despite making a 9 in Thursday’s round on #15, look for Angel Cabrera to hang tough. All he does is win when you don’t think he should. He is definitely a horse for this course and has an Open trophy and a green jacket.
Enjoy the weekend slugfest! How’s your bracket doing?