SALT LAKE CITY — Here are some musings from a memorable Masters Thursday and Friday in person, Saturday on an airplane TV, Sunday in the family room.
AUSSIES RULE: You had to be happy for Adam Scott winning Sunday, particularly after his heartbreak at majors the past two years.
Remember in 2011, it looked like he was going to win the Masters until Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to zoom past him for the victory. Then last year, Scott looked to have the British Open in the bag, holding a four-shot lead heading into the final round, before making bogeys on the final four holes and losing to Ernie Els by one.
Besides Scott, Aussie Jason Day finished third and Aussie Marc Leishman tied for fourth.
CHEAP FOOD: Everyone’s heard about the low food prices at the Masters. Let’s see, I got two sandwiches, some potato chips, a banana and a cookie for my son and me and the bill was $7. Seven dollars! Most sandwiches are $1.50 and drinks are $2 (you can bring water into Augusta, but you’re required to take the Aqua Vista label or whatever, off before going through the gates).
However, they more than make up for it with the Masters merchandise. You can’t get shirts for under $50 or sweaters for under $100, and hats are $24. Yet it’s amazing how many people walk away with hundreds of dollars worth of gear in their Masters plastic bags.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: In Friday’s second round, South Africa’s Branden Grace hit an errant tee shot on No. 17 that ended up on the pine straw in the trees between No. 7 and No. 17. After surveying his options, Grace decided to hit over the trees toward the hole. Unfortunately there were a bunch of fans, er, patrons under the trees between him and the hole. However, instead of waiting for them to clear, Grace yelled out to the fans to “stay still,’’ and then, to the laughter of nearby patrons, “if the ball drops there, it wasn’t planned.’’
A skulled shot into the crowd likely would have killed someone, but Grace thankfully hit what looked like a 9-iron over the trees and over the heads of a few dozen fans — standing as still as possible, of course.
HIGH FIVES: Stevie Williams is caddying for Scott now instead of Tiger Woods. I don’t know if he’s a better caddy than he used to be, but his high fives after good shots are getting closer to the mark.
CRUMMY TENS: Two players had 10s on the par-3 No. 12 hole Sunday. First Kevin Na, who made a 16 on a hole at the Texas Open in 2011, made a 10 when he plunked three balls into Rae’s Creek. Not too long after that, defending champion Bubba Watson matched Na with a 10, also by hitting three balls into the water.
UNMATCHED EFFICIENCY: Everything is a model of efficiency at the Masters, even the rest rooms. After going through a Disneyland-type line to get in, you have several workers calling out to make sure you get to the next toilet as quickly as possible, saying things like, “On the left” or “The 18th hole is open at the end.’’
COMPACT COURSE: One thing you can’t tell on television is just how close some of the holes are to each other at Augusta National, making it much more fan-friendly than most other championship courses.
Unlike so many of today’s modern courses that are spread out over a large area, Augusta is quite compact. When you get to the No. 6 tee, you can look down and see the 16th green just off to the right of the 6th green. The No. 11 green is only about 25 yards from the No. 12 tee so fans in the grandstands can watch both the 11th green and 12 tee shots. Also the 7th and 17th fairways run parallel and the 9th and 18 greens are so close it’s hard to get foot traffic between the two sometimes.
OLD GUYS: How about those old guys? Three players on the other side of 50, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer and Vijay Singh, all made the cut and two even challenged for the lead.
Couples finished in a tie for 13th at 1-under-par at 287, Langer came in at 2-over-par 290 and Singh finished at 292. Couples was tied for the lead after the second round and in contention in the third round until getting a triple-bogey 7 at the 17th. Meanwhile Langer birdied the first three holes Sunday to get within two of the lead before running out of steam with four bogeys and two double-bogeys the rest of the way.
FAVORITE PLAYER: Got to go with Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen. Not only is he a fellow Dane, he’s got a cool name. Take away his opening round and Olesen was the winner over the final three rounds. He was 10-under on the final three rounds with scores of 70-68-68. However an opening-round 78 kept him from challenging for the title Sunday. As it was, the 23-year-old Olesen ended up in a tie for sixth place at 284 and earned himself a spot in next year’s Masters. Go Thorbjorn!
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