Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today: we boil the Masters down to winners and losers. More easily digestible that way, you know. And we're off!
Busbee: Charl Schwartzel won the Masters. We know that. But we're generous around these parts; we think there's more than one winner. Well, not green-jacket winner, but winner in life. And that's what our mom always said was important, right? Which of the 99 players in this year's tournament most helped themselves, do you think, and which hurt themselves? That, friends, is today's topic.
I'll start, and I'll go negative right off the bat: No player hurt himself this week more than Martin Kaymer. The alleged No. 1 couldn't even make the cut on one of the easier-scoring two-day segments in recent Masters memory. That's not good for Kaymer, and that's not good for the cachet of the European contingent currently at the top of the World Golf Rankings. Kaymer will need to pick up the pace at the season's other three majors just to demonstrate that he's not just the beneficiary of weaker competition. After all, if I played a second-grader in tennis, I'm fairly sure I could take two of three sets. Now, your turn, sir.
Bacon: I agree with you on Kaymer. It's pretty weak to be talking before the Masters started that he wishes he was left-handed so he could play a cut here like he is used to. With that said, I think someone that helped their image is Adam Scott. Sure, all the ladies swoon when they see his name, but the man has fallen off our list of major championship hopefuls of late, and on Sunday, he looked like a serious, serious closer. His clutch putting with the broomstick showed that maybe Scott can win one of these things, and I guarantee people will take notice before he tees it up at Congressional.
Busbee: Agreed. Another winner, albeit not in the way he wanted, has to be Rory McIlroy. There are many ways to handle falling apart before the world, and Rory chose the wisest course in answering questions and generally being a good sport about it. I'd throw Jason Day in the winners' column too, and no, it has nothing to do with his wife. To play as well as he did for a sustained period of time is a good sign. Others?
Bacon: You know what's strange, McIlroy has received so much buzz about handling this well that I'm starting to think that maybe Tiger has numbed us to the fact that certain people can actually accept defeat in a respectful manner. Which brings me to this -- for all that Tiger did on Sunday, I can't sit here and say his stock rose for his play over that back nine. Sure, he got himself in contention through eight holes, but if this game were an eight-hole match, Sergio Garcia would probably have 10 majors by now. Tiger is known for closing, and he failed at that on Sunday. For that, I think Woods might have lost a little at Augusta, just because when the going got tough, he fell apart. Your thoughts?
Busbee: I used the word "imploded" for his back nine, and got taken to task for using that word for a guy that shot even par over nine holes at Augusta. Still, considering what could have happened, and what has happened in the past, that's not too far off the mark. And Woods' post-round interview, in which he looked like he wanted to scrape the surrounding patrons and media off the bottom of his shoe, did him no favors image-wise either.
Anyway, I give this Masters a solid B+; Schwartzel deprived us of an A because of his late run that sucked the drama out of the final moments. Not his fault, though, and not his job to make it tense at the end. Your grade, sir?
Bacon: I still give it an A, mainly because heading into the final round, McIlroy had put himself in a position with a four-shot lead to make this thing a sleeper. With him faltering (giving us all that "I can't watch!" feeling), others charging, and Tiger being in the mix, it was extremely full of drama. Also, you can't fault a guy for being that clutch in a Masters. Seeing a rather unknown do something nobody has ever done in the history of this tournament was pretty special, even if it did take away from a putt on the 18th to win it all.
Busbee: Works for me. And I give us an A-plus-plus, as always.
Your turn. Who were the winners and losers from this weekend? Go!