Each week for the remainder of the golf season we will be rolling out a mailbag, with any and all questions invited from readers and fans around the world. Have a good question you want answered? Hit me up on Twitter at @shanebacon and we will try to get to it in the coming weeks. Here we go ...
Bacon: It's quite remarkable how Augusta National plays into certain player's hands. It's a golf course that has history, sure, but it seems to also pick favorites. We've seen Jack Nicklaus dominate there, Arnold Palmer have major success at Augusta and then random names like Nick Faldo and Ben Crenshaw, who just seem to understand what it takes to play well, and play consistent, at Augusta National.
Bubba Watson seems like the guy of this generation to "get" this golf course. He already has two green jackets in just six career starts at Augusta National, and at the age of 35, still has a full decade of being competitive and hitting the ball a country mile (sometimes, literally).
So, I'm putting the over/under on green jackets at 3.5, and I'm taking the under. I think Bubba will win one more Masters for sure, getting in some seriously elite company with just eight other players that have won this tournament three or more times.
The reason I don't see four in his future is simply because only Nicklaus, Palmer and Tiger Woods have been able to accomplish that feat. I think history will play against Bubba if and when he gets to three green jackets, and landing that fourth will be the hardest of them all for him.
If I had to pick anyone right now to get a fourth green jacket, I would go Phil over Bubba just because I think Mickelson has a better chance of being in contention every year at this tournament until he turns 50 (and possibly well after that).
Of course, a lot of this depends on the next mailbag question we will tackle.
@shanebacon Do you see any "Lefty-Proof" plans in Augusta's future? Or anything to reduce the bias toward the right to left shot?
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) April 15, 2014
Bacon: If we know one thing about the green jackets of Augusta, it's that they don't like when their golf course gets made to look silly.
Tiger Woods did that in 1997 with bombing drives and no rough and the club immediately went to lengths to make the course tougher for that type of player (at that time, there was only one, and his name was Tiger). Sure, Woods went on to win three more green jackets over the next eight years, but since then he has left with exactly zero coats and a lot of disappointments.
That tee shot Bubba hit on the 13th might be something the club replays over and over again when thinking about ways to eliminate that type of domination.
Bubba's driver was absolutely on fire all weekend at Augusta, and he really left a lot of shots out there on the par-5s considering where he kept hitting his tee ball, especially on the 13th and 15th.
The only thing I could see the club doing is adding some trees just off the right of some of the tee boxes. That seems like the best way to eliminate a guy aiming right and swinging out of his shoes, but even that might not stop a guy like Bubba, who will just aim a little further left and try to hit it a little straighter.
Distance is king in this game, and unless you can raise some of those trees left of the 13th fairway and get them to grow a few feet before next April, I don't see a lot of things you can do for a guy that is flying his drives 320 yards, all in the air.
@shanebacon, while Spieth's incredible for even being in contention at 20, he's shown a habit of struggling to close. Will this change?
— Jordan Kuehne (@Jordan_Kuehne) April 14, 2014
Bacon: I have a few thoughts on Jordan Spieth and what we should be making of his early success, his play at Augusta and just his overall potential in this game.
First, Spieth is an incredible talent, and we should all be excited about his future, especially considering the lack of young Americans that actually seem like the type of player that can win multiple major titles.
That said, Spieth is still just 20 years old, has played in exactly four major championships as a professional and has already contended in one.
Learning how to close on the PGA Tour is a skill. It isn't just Spieth that struggles with this, we've seen Rory McIlroy blow leads, Adam Scott let them slip away, and just about every golfer on tour this season either get the lead and lose it or make a run and fall short at the end (just look at Matt Kuchar's last three weeks).
The expectations for Spieth are so loud right now it's hard to hear anything else, but we need to remember that just because he isn't putting on the green jacket at 20, the week wasn't a disappointment. Spieth will learn how to close out tournaments just like some of the greats learned how to close them out. The problem with our society today is that we want SO BAD the next big thing in every sport.
"Is Spieth the next Tiger?" "Is Rory the next Jack?!" "Could Ryo Ishikawa win the career Grand Slam?!"
Tiger fooled us into thinking that winning major championships was easy if you're young and talented and hit the ball far. But just look at the current world rankings and see how many of those names don't even have a single major title in their trophy case.
Spieth is great, and will be great for the game, but he's still young and at times shows it on the golf course. If you're buying stock in a golfer right now, Spieth is the guy to invest in, but even if it takes him two or three years to win his first major championship, that is totally fine and still miles ahead of most of the big names on tour not named Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy.
@shanebacon is Augusta going to keep this tougher par fest setup or allow for birdies to be made? The putting contest of old is missed
— Ryan Trasamar (@RyanTrasamar) April 14, 2014
Bacon: I got a couple of versions of this questions after Sunday and was a tad confused by it.
Did Augusta National really play that tough for people, or was it the simple fact that nothing really happened on the back nine on Sunday that left fans unfulfilled? The winning score by Watson was 8-under, which to me represents a perfect Masters.
I'm not a fan of the Masters when the winnings core is 15 or 16 under, and I didn't really enjoy seeing Zach Johnson come in at 1-over and claim the green jacket. But to me, 8-under is a very respectable score for a champion, especially considering the course did play tougher this week than it has in the past couple of years.
I do wish that the club had softened the greens a little for Sunday, because that seemed to be the biggest factor in scoring, but the course didn't play impossible and allowed people to go out and post a number if they played solid golf (Miguel Angel Jimenez shot 66 on Saturday, and Joost Luiten came in with 67 on Sunday, so the scores were out there).
My perfect winning score for each major goes like this; Masters -9, U.S. Open E, British Open -6, and the PGA -11. So, the Masters was just a shot off that number, which to me means a success. I don't want people thinking just because nobody made a charge on Sunday that something was wrong with the golf course. It was just as simple as nobody really getting anything going that had a chance to catch Bubba Watson, and that was that.
@shanebacon How much has Twitter enhanced the major-viewing experience?
— Adam Fonseca (@ChicagoDuffer) April 14, 2014
Bacon: For me it has improved all big moments on television about 4,000 percent.
One of the things that I think Twitter has helped with is simply allowing you to feel like you're hanging around a lot of people that enjoy or think the same way as you as you're watching something you enjoy. The reason Twitter makes this possible? Because you get to pick and choose who you follow, what style they have, and who is going to be watching and enjoying something the same way you would.
When I watch the Oscars, I love Twitter because the comedians I follow usually are on their A game. I could say the same for the NBA playoffs, as NBA Twitter is probably the best out there. And for golf, it's great because not only am I enjoying being a part of the major championship twitter scene, but I'm getting feedback, comments and jokes from people I've never met but feel like I could enjoy a cold beer with them even though I've never met 80 percent of the people I'm interacting with.
We don't always get the chance to be with our best buds when the Super Bowl is going on, but social media has allowed us to interact and enjoy moments like that with "friends" we've picked for one reason or another. That's what makes it so cool to me.
@shanebacon After you quasi-predicted Bubba's win, are you afraid of your newfound psychic powers?
— John (@kozemp) April 15, 2014
Bacon: For full disclosure, I was between Rory McIlroy and Bubba as my pick last week for the Masters, eventually going with McIlroy because I will never pick a major championship winner correctly as long as I live.
But, since we are here, I figured I'll give you my major championship predictions since we are months away and they will change 400 times as we approach each major.
I'm going with Sergio Garcia at Pinehurst (why not?!), Tiger Woods if he's healthy at Hoylake, and Dustin Johnson at the PGA Championship.