Three lessons I learned watching this year’s Masters:
1. Jordan Spieth is a monster.
He assaulted the Masters’ record books this week. He broke the 36- and 54-hole scoring record and is the only player to ever reach 19-under for the tournament. I’m incredibly impressed, but for me it doesn’t quite stack up to the two other Masters performances CBS kept comparing this one to: Tiger’s win in 1997 and Ray Floyd’s win in 1976.
In my humble opinion, the powers that be at Augusta, the “committee,” set up the course to be too easy. In ’76, Floyd won with a score of -17. Only seven other people broke par for the week. In ’97, Tiger won at -18. Only 15 other players broke par. This year, 32 players finished in the red. Please don’t think I’m knocking Jordan’s play in any way. It’s just that I love watching the majors for the carnage. To me, nothing is better than seeing the best players in the world clench their bottoms as they try to avoid double bogeys. If I want to see birdies, I’ll watch the Bob Hope Classic or Las Vegas Invitational.
The greens were just too soft, and in his post-round interviews, even Tiger tried to goad the committee into firming up the greens and make the course harder, but …
2. The committee doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
OK, I get it. It’s their place and we are all outsiders. That being said, what golf fan wouldn’t want to watch morning coverage of the first major of the year? I walked into the locker room at Bay Hill on Thursday to check out Tiger’s opening tee shot, only to be reminded that the coverage wouldn’t start until 3 o’clock. 3 o’clock? Come on! Every other major has way more coverage! Oh well, I figured, I’ll log on to the Masters app on my iPhone and watch him. Surely he’s one of the two featured groups they’ll show on Internet coverage. Tiger is, after all, the most popular and intriguing figure in all of golf. Guess how many times he was in one of the two featured groups? Exactly zero in all four days.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. It is the same committee that banned Gary McCord for life for saying the greens were “bikini waxed.” And the same committee that, under threat of excommunication, bans the CBS commentators from using the terms rough and gallery. It, of course, prefers the more civilized and snooty terms first cut and patrons. It loves letting us know things are its way or the highway.
Of course, there is the chance I’m a little bitter. See, when I won my only tournament on the PGA Tour in 2001, the committee had – just a few months earlier — changed the rule that tournament winners don’t automatically qualify. So I never got to play in the Masters. But …
3. The committee does a great job of keeping in touch with the traditions that make it a special tournament.
The legend of Augusta is important. It is, after all, the reason the green jacket is such a special trophy. Like Jim Nantz loves to say, “It’s a tradition unlike any other.” And there are parts of the tournament we should all appreciate. It was great to see Arnold Palmer back at Augusta hitting the Thursday morning opening tee shot with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. I have been fortunate enough to have known Mr. Palmer since I was a kid, when my family moved to Bay Hill, his course in Orlando. I can honestly tell you it was a long road to that tee shot Thursday. After his pacemaker surgery last summer and his shoulder injury a couple months ago, it took a lot of guts and willpower to even show up. Despite the pain keeping him from picking up a club for months, he wouldn’t allow that to stop him from what he wanted to do: simply be there for his fans. That’s the reason he is the most important man the game of golf has ever known.
Thanks, Mr. Palmer. And congrats, Jordan. Well done.
Former PGA Tour pro Robert Damron is a regular contributor to FOXSports.com’s golf coverage.