After an epic day of golf at Augusta National, we are left with some burning questions. Let’s get them answered.
Tiger’s win brings up inevitable comparisons with Jack Nicklaus. Who is the greatest champion ever: still have to say Nicklaus because he has 3 more major championships than Woods. Woods has a chance to get there now especially if his back holds up. But it won’t be easy as there are just so many great golfers playing today. Every field is stacked. Nicklaus acknowledged that he was “shaking in my boots” after Tiger won in fear that his major record will be eclipsed. I appreciate Jack’s candor. Of course he doesn’t want his record broken, who would?
Greatest player ever: Tiger Woods no question. This 15th major should put the argument to bed. He has won more tournaments than Jack and faced better competition. Tiger competes against guys who have been training since they were in elementary school to be champion golfers. They all have personal trainers, bio-chemists and psychologists working for them. In Nicklaus’s prime, the winner of the 1969 U.S. Open was Orville Moody who spent 14 years in the Army then rolled out of his cot and won a major championship. To give you an idea of what Orville Moody looked like, get a picture in your head of a guy named Orville Moody. That’s what he looks like. Not exactly a fitness machine. God Bless Orville Moody though and thank you for your service. Click on this link and scroll down to see Orville winning the U.S. Open. It’s amazing video.
After he taps in to win, he never once smiles or seems to enjoy it at all. We need more men like him. Even when hoisting the trophy, it looked like he pulled out his back. Orville Moody should become golf’s Chuck Norris. Orville Moody won the U.S. Open in 1969 and grooved his swing by hitting 3 irons at the Vietcong. Moody killed 37 Germans at the Battle of the Bulge…with a pitching wedge!
The other interesting story line is where this win places Tiger in his quest to chase down Sam Snead and his record 82 victories in PGA Tour events. Tiger’s masters win puts him at 81. This is a record not a lot of people think about but has always been important to Tiger. If you really delve into some of Snead’s wins though, they seem a tad questionable. Three of the wins came in 36-hole tournaments. One came in an 18-hole tournament. The PGA now stipulates a tournament victory has to be at least 54 holes. Snead was also credited with a win at the 1950 Crosby Clam Bake when after weather delays, they cancelled the tournament, a tie was declared, and they gave the win to each of the four players. The point will probably be moot soon as Tiger just needs two more wins to surpass Snead and take his rightful place at the top for PGA wins.
What was Molinari thinking on the 12th hole? He came to the 12th up two strokes and arguably should have played it conservatively and aimed for the center of the green effectively taking the water out of play. He felt it was a nine iron distance but wanted to take a little more club to be sure he made the green. He just didn’t put a good swing on the ball. It’s hard to fault the Italian here. He made good decisions all week and was certain he had enough club to make the green. He knew he needed to make birdies to stay ahead of the talented field and this should have been a straight-forward shot, he just didn’t execute it. The counter to this was the fact both Ian Poulter and Brooks Koepka in the group in front went in the water so that should have clued Molinari that maybe he should play conservatively and just get par if others were shooting themselves out of the tournament. It’s one of those fateful decisions that ended up costing him the tournament. Molinari going first on the tee was another big break for Tiger. He saw what Molinari did, played conservatively to the middle of the green, took his par and got out of Dodge and the rest is history.
At Tiger’s championship press conference, I was sitting in the front row and had my hand raised the entire time but was never called on by the green-jacketed moderator. I had a good question too. While other questions seemed to be about how he felt and what it meant, I wanted to know actual golf-related information. I was going to ask if he had a number he wanted to shoot as goal before he teed off Sunday. Also, was he surprised to win with a somewhat mediocre score of 70. But alas, we will never know but at least we know that he felt happy to win the Masters.
It’s fun to watch golf fans, usually middle-aged woman, approach players while they’re walking the course and expect to be noticed or spoken to or appeased in some way. They often don’t realize the player is not playing well and is pissed off. Saw this a few times but the most egregious was on Saturday when Rory McIlroy was in the process of throwing away his chance for the career grand slam with back-back bogeys on holes 6 and 7. He’s walking the rope line to the 8th tee and a screeching harpy comes out of nowhere yelling “Rory, Rory!!, Fist bump for good luck!.” Anyone paying the least bit of attention would know now is not the proper time. Rory recoiled in what I imagine was disgust and stayed on the far side of the ropes. Box-wine mom then carried on about how these players make so much money that they should have time for their fans. I was tempted to say, “Ma’am this is also their place of work, do people come and bother you when you’re at Happy Hour? The Masters should seriously consider cutting off chardonnay sales at 11am to put a stop to these incidents.
Well, that’s all I have from Augusta. As Francesco Molinari said after his ball went in the water on 15…Arrivederci!!
Dan Redmond can be found on twitter @danfromdc