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By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange April 15, 2013 2:20 AM
1. Tiger Woods, United States -- The Tiger haters will say he should never have been there, while Woods' fans will lament that the eventual triple-bogey 8 he took on the 15th hole in round two might have kept him from winning his fourth Green Jacket and first since 2005. As usual, Woods never gave up and finished strong, carding four birdies in the last 10 holes, but could not make enough of them and finished in a tie for fourth. It was his seventh top-six finish since he last won at Augusta eight years ago. ... There are no events listed on the schedule page at tigerwoods.com between the Masters and U.S. Open in June at Merion, but he undoubtedly will tee it up in the Players Championship in two weeks and probably will play at the Wells Fargo Championship next week. Even though he has missed the cut in his last two appearances at Quail Hollow, in 2010 and last year, he has not finished out of the top 11 in the other four times he played the tournament, including a victory in 2007. ... Woods was tied for the lead in the Masters when his third shot at No. 15 on Friday hit the flagstick and bounced back into the water. He recovered with a shot from almost the same spot to save bogey, but took a two-stroke penalty the next day when it was determined he took an illegal drop before the second shot to turn that apparent 6 into an 8. We'll never know, but had he been lucky and the ball not hit the pin, he might have made birdie and been right there at the finish. 2. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Coming off his best finish of the season, second in the Valero Texas Open a week earlier, McIlroy played solid but inconsistent golf in the first two rounds of the Masters, but still was in position to make a move on the weekend. However, he made only one birdie while shooting a dismal 7-over-par 79 in the third round and finished in a tie for 25th, after salvaging something out of the week with a 69 on Sunday. ... While Rory was preparing for the Masters last week, he made a commitment to play in three weeks at the Wells Fargo Championship, which according to the schedule at rorymcilroy.com will be his next event. It came as no surprise that he is going to play at Quail Hollow for the fourth time, as he claimed his first PGA Tour victory there in 2010 and lost the tournament to Rickie Fowler on the first playoff hole last year. He also missed the cut in 2011. ... McIlroy opened with 72-70 last week at Augusta, catching fire with an eagle at No. 8 and three birdies on the back nine in round two to put himself in good shape heading to Saturday. However, he could make only a single birdie in the third round, at No. 3, and totally unraveled on the back nine. McIlroy hit into the water on No. 11 en route to a triple-bogey 7, and his ball splashed again at No. 15 on his way to a double-bogey 7. He took only 25 putts on Friday, but averaged 31.0 the other three days. 3. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- For the second time, Snedeker was in the hunt in the final round of the Masters, but playing in the final twosome, he closed with a 3-over-par 75 and wound up in a tie for sixth. In 2008, he tied for the lead at Augusta National with a long eagle putt on the second hole of the final round, but closed with a 77 and finished in a tie for third. ... Trying to make up for lost time after missing five weeks because of a rib injury, Snedeker is going to play for the third time in four weeks when he tees it up Thursday in the RBC Heritage. The tournament at Harbour Town probably would have been on his schedule anyway, because he has played it in each of the last six years and seven times overall. In 2011, he shot 7-under-par 64 in the final round to catch Luke Donald and then won with a par on the third extra hole. Sneds tied for 17th last season in his title defense. ... Snedeker was tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera after 54 holes at Augusta and took the lead with a birdie on the first hole of the final round. However, he fell back with four bogeys from the fourth to 11th holes before adding two more down the stretch to finish disappointed at Augusta again. He posted scores of 70-70-69 in the first three rounds, but despite being one of the best putters in the world, he lost his touch on the greens over the weekend. After taking only 55 putts in the first two rounds, he needed 63 on the weekend. 4. Adam Scott, Australia -- Carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders and his own demons in his mind, Scott finally lived up to the promise he showed as a youngster and became the first Australian to win the Masters. It took until the age of 32, but the kid once called the next Greg Norman became a national hero Down Under when he holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole and a 12-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to overcome two-time major champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina. ... The website at adamscott.com is being revamped, so there is no indication when and where Scott will play again, because he has not committed to any of the next three tournaments on the PGA Tour. Last year, under the less is more schedule that he went to in order to focus more on the major championships, he did not play again after the Masters until the Players Championship, so there is a chance we might not see him again until TPC Sawgrass next month. ... Scott, who blew a four-stroke lead with bogeys on the last four holes of the Open Championship last July at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, birdied three of the last six holes on Sunday at Augusta National to wrap up his third 3-under-par 69 of the week. He hit 55-of-72 greens in regulation, but averaged only 30.0 putts per round including several close calls on the greens slowed by rain on Sunday. Then he holed the two biggest putts of his career to claim the Green Jacket that Aussie greats Norman, Peter Thomson, David Graham and others were unable to bring home. 5. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Lefty arrived at Augusta National in search of his fourth Green Jacket, but surprisingly never really put himself in the conversation in the Masters, failing to break 70 in any of his four rounds and finishing in a tie for 54th. It was his worst finish in 21 appearances, other than a missed cut in 1997, in the first major of the year. His previous low when he played all four rounds was a tie for 46th as an amateur in 1991. ... There are no tournaments listed after the Masters on the schedule page at philmickelson.com, but it's a good bet that he will play again in two weeks at the Wells Fargo Championship. He has played at Quail Hollow in each of the last seven years, which gives him a good tune-up for the Players Championship the following week. Phil has had some success in the tournament, too, with five top-10 finishes, including second behind Rory McIlroy in 2010, and a tie for third in 2007, when Tiger Woods took home the title. ... Mickelson was in solid position at Augusta after an opening 1-under-par 71, but he played the last three days in 76-77-73. Amen Corner proved to be a nightmare for him on Saturday, when he put a ball in the water on all three holes, and carded double bogeys on the 11th and 12th, for the second consecutive day on the par 3, before salvaging a par at No. 13. His ball-striking was good enough, as he hit 45-of-72 fairways and 40-of-56 greens in regulation, but he averaged 30.5 putts per round after recently dropping the "Claw" and going with an oversized grip. 6. Dustin Johnson, United States -- Johnson was among the leaders when he opened with a 5-under-par 67 in the Masters, and was in the lead at 7-under for the tournament late the next day before falling apart. He played the last five holes in 6-over to finish at 76, followed with a 74, and eventually wound up in a tie for 13th after a closing 70. Still, he recorded the best finish of his career in four appearances in the first major of the year by 17 places. ... DJ has not committed to play in ay PGA Tour events before the Players Championship next month, but he will fly off to Incheon, South Korea, for the Ballantine's Championship next week. He has played in the tournament, co-sponsored by the European and Asian tours, once before, finishing fourth in 2011, four strokes behind winner Lee Westwood. Johnson was planning to make the trip last year, too, but had to withdraw because of a back injury that cost him two months of the season. ... Johnson's troubles at Augusta National on Friday started when he made a bogey on 14th hole, before he hit his approach shot into the water on the next hole and took a double-bogey 7. He added another bogey on No. 17 and closed with a double-bogey 6. DJ was brilliant through 15 holes on Thursday, at 6-under, before carding his only bogey of the day at No. 17. DJ putted well enough, averaging 27.8 putts per round, but one of the best ball-strikers in the game hit under 60 percent of the fairways and greens. 7. Luke Donald, England -- It was another disappointing week for one of the best players in the world without at major title, as Donald was on the fringe of contention after two rounds of the Masters before shooting 3-under-par 75 in round three. He wound up in a tie for 25th, and his tie for fourth in 2011 was the only time he has been in contention at Augusta in the last six years. ... Donald is playing this week for the sixth consecutive year and eighth time overall in the Wells Fargo Championship, and hopes to break through and win the tournament for the first time after several close calls. Two years ago he was tied for the lead after opening with 67-65, but played the weekend is 70-70, allowing Brandt Snedeker to catch him with a closing 7-under-par 65 and beat him with a par on the third playoff hole. The year before, he tied for third, and in 2009, he played the weekend in 65-66 to tie for second, although he was 10 strokes behind runaway winner Brian Gay. ... Donald posted scores of 71-72 in the first two rounds of the Masters, but managed only one bogey in round three, at the ninth hole. He salvaged a 72 in the final round with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes, but again could not come close to becoming the first Englishman to win a major title since Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters. Luke was among the leaders by hitting 43-of-56 fairways, but hit only 43-of-72 greens and averaged 29.0 putts per round. 8. Matt Kuchar, United States -- Inconsistency cost Kuchar a chance to claim his first major title last week, but he played well enough to finish in a tie for eighth, coming on the heels of his tie for third in the first major of the season a year ago. He leads the PGA Tour with 33 top-10 finishes in the last three years and has proven he can win big events, capturing the 2012 Players Championship and the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship earlier this year, but it's time for him to show he can win a major. ... Kooch is playing for the ninth time in the Wells Fargo Championship, and it must be that Hilton Head is a terrific time for his family because he has not fared so well on the Harbour Town Golf Links. He has only two top-10 finishes in the tournament, a tie for seventh in 2007, when he shot 68-67 on the weekend, and a tie for 10th in 2005. Last year, he seemed headed for a solid finish before posting a 6-over-par 77 in the final round to slide to a tie for 44th at the finish. ... Kuchar carded six birdies in a 4-under-par 68 in round one of the Masters, and had five more birdies while recording a 69 in round three. But he shot 75 in the second round and 73 in the last while still in contention, carding only two birdies each day. After taking 27 putts in round one, he lost his touch on the greens, averaging 29.3 the rest of the way, not really bad but not good enough, either. 9. Justin Rose, England -- Rosy was in contention for the first major title by an Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1996 when he opened with 70-71 in the Masters. Then he played the weekend in 75-74, running afoul of the treacherous 12th hole on both days, and eventually winding up in a tie for 25th, his seventh top-25 finish in his eighth appearances in the first major of the season. ... After taking two weeks off before the Masters, Rosy is in the middle of a three-week run on the PGA Tour, playing this week in the RBC Heritage, followed by the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the Wells Fargo Championship. He has played four times previously at Harbour Town, but not since 2008, when he withdrew because of back injury following a 5-over-par 76 in the first round. His best result in the tournament was a tie for seventh in his first appearance at Hilton Head, when he shot 69-66 in the middle rounds. ... Rose found the water in each of the last two rounds on No. 12 at Augusta, carding a double-bogey 5 on Saturday and a quadruple-bogey 7 in the final round when he hit Rae's Creek twice. He played the hole in 7-over-par for the tournament, making his only par there in round one. Justin hit more than 70 percent of the fairways and greens, but struggled with the short stick, averaging 31.3 putts per round. Rose took only 28 putts in the final round after needing at least 31 each of the first three days, including a putrid 36 in round two. 10. Bubba Watson, United States -- Bubba's year as reigning Masters champion came to an end with a thud, as he could not break 70 in any of his four rounds, including a 5-over-par 77 on Sunday, thanks to an ugly 10 on the 12th hole. Still, he certainly enjoyed the ride and finished with a smile on his face despite a tie for 50th when he holed an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, where he donned the Green Jacket in the official ceremony last year. ... Watson is taking a week off after his title defense, but will play in each of the next two weeks in tournaments he has played well in the past. He will tee it up next week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which he won in 2011, and the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, where he tied for second in 2009, one stroke behind Sean O'Hair. Then he will make it three in a row by making the two-hour drive from his new home in Orlando, Fla., to the Players Championship. ... Watson's trouble on the 12th hole at Augusta on Sunday started when he dumped his tee ball in the water, and then found the wet stuff again with his shot from the drop area. After hitting his next shot into the back bunker, his shot from there rolled off the green and into the water. Hitting from the bunker again, he got his ball to within six feet and one-putted to tie the 10 that Kevin Na made at No. 12 earlier in the day, when he hit three shots from the tee into the water. 11. Keegan Bradley, United States -- After finishing in a tie for 27th in his first Masters a year ago, Bradley went to Augusta National with high hopes of bettering that finish and perhaps event contending in the first major of the year. However, he struggled until catching fire on the last five holes of the final round and finished in a tie for 54th. It was his worst finish on the PGA Tour this season, other than a missed cut in the Farmers Insurance Open in February. ... Having played 11 times already this season, more than most of the top players, Keegan is taking a one-week break from the PGA Tour before playing next week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for the third consecutive year. He's hoping to improve on his missed cut last year at TPC Louisiana. Then he will take another week off before teeing it up in the so-called Fifth Major, the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, also for the third time. ... Bradley opened with 73-73 -- 146 at Augusta to make the cut by three strokes, but then posted a humbling 10-over-par 82, his worst score as a professional, in the third round. It started badly with a double-bogey 6 on the first hole, but he worst came when he shot 7-over 43 on the back nine, including another double bogey at the 12th hole. Something clicked on Sunday, when the 2011 PGA champion recorded a 3-under-par 69, making a total of six birdies, including four on the last five holes on his way out of town. 12. Webb Simpson, United States -- The reigning U.S. Open champion, two months away from his title defense at Merion, shot 73-76 -- 149 and missed the cut last week in the Masters. Since he won at the Olympic Club last June, he skipped the Open Championship because of the birth of his first child and has failed to reach the weekend in the last two majors, also missing the cut at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island last August. Although he has two top-10 finishes and six in the top 25 this season, he has missed the cut in three of his 10 tournaments. ... Already having played a busy schedule this season, Simpson plans to tee it up three more times in the next four weeks, in the RBC Heritage, the Wells Fargo Championship and the Players Championship. He is playing this week at Harbour Town for the fifth consecutive year, with his best results ties for 14th in 2010 and 2011. He missed the cut in his first appearance in 2009, and last year could not break 70 in any of his four rounds en route to a tie for 52nd, his worst finish of the season other than four missed cuts. ... Simpson was safely inside the cut-line through 10 holes in round two last week at Augusta, but then he carded three consecutive bogeys through Amen Corner and added another on the final hole. The biggest problem on Friday was his belly putter, as he needed 31 putts after taking only 26 in the opening round. 13. Steve Stricker, United States -- Four days of mostly solid, but unspectacular golf left Stricker in a tie for 20th last week in the Masters. He still has only two finishes in the top 10 in 13 appearances at Augusta National, the last one a tie for sixth in 2009, but at least he did not miss the cut for the sixth time. ... At the age of 46, Stricker is cutting way back on his PGA Tour schedule this season, concentrating on the majors and the three World Golf Championships events in the United States because he does not enjoy the travel, with only 11 tournaments on his slate as of now. He has played in only five tournaments this season and his cutback probably means that he will not tee it up again competitively until the Players Championship next month at TPC Sawgrass. ... Perhaps showing the rust after playing only four times previously this season on the PGA Tour, Stricker carded five bogeys on the first 10 holes in round one last week at Augusta, but salvaged a round of one-over-par 73 with an eagle at the 15th hole and two birdies on the back nine. His middle rounds of 70 and 71 were marred by double bogeys, at the 16th hole on Friday and the 18th on Saturday, and he carded only two birdies in a closing 75. Stricker hit roughly two-thirds of the fairways and greens, but was let down by the putter, usually the best club in his bag. He averaged 30.5 putts per round, including 35 on Sunday. 14. Hunter Mahan, United States -- After playing very solid golf all season, Mahan has bit a bump in the road by missing the cut in his last two starts, including last week at the Masters. He shot 76-82 -- 158 at Augusta to miss the weekend by a remarkable 10 strokes, making it three missed cuts for him in seven appearances in the first major of the year. Hunter also missed two consecutive cuts late last season, at the PGA Championship and the Barclays. ... With 10 tournaments under his belt already this season, Mahan is going to keep on playing, with three more tournaments in the next four weeks. He's hoping to regroup this week in the RBC Heritage, and after a week off, will tee it up in the Wells Fargo Championship and the Players Championship. This will be only his second appearance at Harbour Town, as he tied for 44th in 2007 and has not been back after closing with a 4-over-par 75. He broke 70 only when he posted a 69 in the third round. ... Following his opening 76 at Augusta, Mahan needed a solid effort in round two in order to play the weekend, but instead went from bad to worse, scattering four double bogeys across his scorecard. Those doubles came at the third, 10th, 11th and 18th holes. He was not sharp in any phase of the game, hitting only 17-of-28 fairways and 19-of-36 greens, while taking 66 putts, including 35 in his wretched second round. Mahan carded three birdies in the first round, but also recorded seven bogeys. He beat only three players in the 93-man field. 15. Lee Westwood, England -- Despite being on the fringe of contention virtually all the way in the Masters, Westwood really never made a big move and could not break 70 while finishing in a tie for eighth. It was of no consolation that he wound up as the low Englishman and finished 11th or better for the fourth consecutive year at Augusta, including a tie for third last year, two strokes out of a playoff, and solo second in 2010, three shots behind Phil Mickelson. ... Westy has been busy in his first season living in the United States, playing a total of nine times, including a trip to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour, where he started his season with a tie for fifth. He is going to take two weeks off before playing next in the Wells Fargo Championship, in which he tied for fifth last year, one week before heading to TPC Sawgrass for the Players Championship, which he skipped occasionally while playing primarily on the European Tour. ... Westwood carded a double-bogey 6 on the first hole of his opening round last week at Augusta, but bounced back with five birdies the rest of the day to open with a 2-under-par 70 before following that with a 72. However, he carded two bogeys in the first seven holes before carding his only birdie at No. 7 in a third-round 73. Holding an outside chance on Sunday, he recorded two birdies in the first seven holes but had only one more in a closing 71. Lee has worked on his putting and averaged 27.8 putts per round, but hit only 42-of-72 greens in regulation. 16. Ian Poulter, England -- While Poulter might have been refreshed by his abbreviated early-season schedule, his lack of competition seemed to catch up with him at the Masters, where he shot 76-75 -- 151 and missed the cut by three strokes. It was his first missed cut on the PGA Tour since the 2011 Deutsche Bank Championship, ending a stretch of 20 consecutive events in which he made it to the weekend, which was the second-longest active streak on the circuit. Ian has missed the cut only twice in the last 14 majors, the other coming in the Open Championship last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. ... Poulter is another player who is cutting back on his schedule this season, after playing on 26 weeks last year, and he doesn't give any indication at ianpoulter.com as to where he might play next. He took six weeks off after opening the season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and played well when he returned, but has not committed to any of the upcoming events, so it's possible he might skip the next three tournaments ahead of the Players Championship. ... Poulter managed only one birdie, at No. 12, in the first round last week at Augusta, and added only two more on Friday. His troubles in round two started after he recorded six consecutive pars at the start before a double-bogey 6 at No. 7 and couldn't recover. He hit only 12-of-28 fairways and 20-of-36 greens, and even struggled with his trusty putter, taking 61 strokes on the greens. 17. Jason Dufner, United States -- Dufner was in contention through two rounds last week in the Masters, posting scores of 72-69, but he played the weekend in 75-73 and finished in a tie for 20th. It was similar to his second trip to Augusta National a year ago, when he started with 69-70, but he shot 75-75 in the last two rounds and wound up in a tie for 24th after tying for 30th the year before in his debut in the first major of the season. ... Duf has been a busy man at the start of this season, with 10 tournaments behind him, including two on the Middle East Swing of the European Tour and he doesn't play to slow down any time soon. He is playing the next two weeks, at the RBC Heritage before defending his title next week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and then will take a week off before the Players Championship. His best finish in five appearances at Harbour Town was a tie for 14th in 2011, and last year he bounced back from a 7-over-par 78 in round one with 66-67 in the middle rounds to salvage a tie for 24th. ... Dufner was in good shape through 11 holes in round three at Augusta, but carded a double-bogey 6 on the 11th hole that began his demise. He took three bogeys in a span of four holes through No. 16 and shot 4-over-par 40 on the back nine. After collecting 11 birdies on the first two days, could manage only five on the weekend. Duf started the final day with another double-bogey 4, but salvaged his round with his only two birdies of the day on the back nine. 18. Ernie Els, South Africa -- By the time Els really got it going in the final round of the Masters, it was much too late, and his 3-under-par 69 left him in a tie for 13th. Still, it was his best finish at Augusta National since 2004, when he finished second, one stroke behind Phil Mickelson, for his fifth consecutive finish of sixth or better in the first major of the season. ... The Big Easy has played nine tournaments this season on three continents, and he is going to keep on going, teeing it up the next two weeks in the RBC Heritage and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans before taking a week off ahead of the Players Championship. The week at Harbour Town is one of his favorites on the PGA Tour schedule because his family enjoys Hilton Head, but he has missed the cut in three of his last four appearances. That came after his best result in the tournament, solo second in 2007, when he opened with 65-65, but played the weekend in 71-70 to wind up one stroke behind Boo Weekley. ... Els carded an eagle in the 15th hole in round one of the Masters en route to a 71, but he took himself out of contention by playing the middle rounds in 73-74. He made eagles on those days, too, but also had seven bogeys on Friday and six more on Saturday. Ernie putted well with his belly model, averaging 27.0 putts per round, be he had to in order to stay afloat because he hit only 36-of-72 greens in regulation. 19. Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa -- Oosthuizen entered the Masters with high hopes after losing out in a playoff to Bubba Watson last year at Augusta, but went home early this time when he shot 74-76 -- 150 to miss the cut by two strokes. It was the fourth time he missed the weekend in five appearances at the first major of the year, and in those eight rounds he is a total of 25-over-par. It was his third missed cut in six starts this season on the PGA Tour. ... Oosty was planning to play in the RBC Heritage this week, and it was still listed on the schedule page on his website at louis57.co.za late last week. However, he changed his mind and will instead play next week in the Ballantine's Championship at Blackstone Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, a tournament co-sponsored by the European and Asian tours. This is his first appearance in the tournament, or in South Korea for that matter, but Louie claimed his first title in Asia last year, when he posted four rounds in the 60s to beat Stephen Gallacher of Scotland by three strokes in the Maybank Malaysian Open. ... The South African carded three consecutive bogeys through No. 5 in a stumbling start to his second round at Augusta, but put himself back inside the cut-line with a birdie at No. 8. However, that was the only time he picked up a stroke all day, and when he recorded bogeys on the 11th and 15th holes before closing with three pars, he was gone. 20. Zach Johnson, United States -- The 2007 Masters champion opened with a 3-under-par 69 last week at Augusta, but could not break 70 the rest of the way and finished in a tie for 35th. Since claiming the Green Jacket, he has not finished better than a tie for 20th as defending champion in the first major of the year. ... Johnson is going to play this week in the RBC Heritage before flying off to Asia next week to play in the Ballantine's Championship at Blackstone Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, an event that is co-sponsored by the Asian and European tours. He has never won a tournament overseas, and in fact, has played in very few, other than his nine appearances in the Open Championship. Zach is playing at Harbour Town for the ninth time and posted his best finish there last year, solo second, five shots behind Carl Pettersson. He also was sixth in 2007. ... Zach made a bogey on the first hole in round one at Augusta, but that was the only blemish on his scorecard, which included three birdies on the last six holes. However, he followed with rounds of 76-71-75, failing to record a birdie in the second round, when he took a woeful 35 putts. In fact, he had trouble with his normally-reliable putter throughout the tournament, taking at least 29 putts each day and averaging 31.3 per round. Johnson had to bounce back from three consecutive bogeys through No. 6 to save his 71 on Saturday with three birdies in five holes through No. 12. Others receiving consideration: Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland; Martin Kaymer, Germany; Nick Watney, United States; Rickie Fowler, United States; Bill Haas, United States; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Jim Furyk, United States; Carl Pettersson, Sweden; Bo Van Pelt, United States; Peter Hanson, Sweden; Jason Day, Australia; John Merrick, United States; Charles Howell III, United States; Tim Clark, South Africa; Michael Thompson, United States; Martin Laird, Scotland; Angel Cabrera, Argentina.