And just like that, another Masters Tournament has come to a close. The biggest tournament in golf is over, with the most prestigious prize in golf going to the eccentric Bubba Watson. It’s difficult to think of someone more worthy of donning the historic Green Jacket than Bubba Watson, whose self-taught swing and carefree approach to the game reminds us all what golf is supposed to be about. Lost in the hustle and bustle of swing coaches, technological upgrades, and instant solutions are players like Bubba Watson, who play the game like it was supposed to be played; by feel. Bubba’s passion for golf itself goes almost unrivaled on today’s PGA Tour. While results are the only thing that matter to so many, Bubba just has fun, and Watson’s second shot on the second playoff hole is the perfect example of why he makes the game so much fun to watch. A shot played entirely by feel, and executed to perfection is the entire essence of this great game. While so many players walk the beaten path and play it safe, Bubba goes for broke, and that is why he is your 2012 Masters champion.
Hype. The 2012 Masters Tournament had plenty of it prior to Thursdays first round, and while the amount of hype surrounding Tiger, Phil, and Rory proved to be just that, it still lived up to the billing. Despite neither Woods or McIlroy being in contention come Sunday, the Masters still provided us with some of the most memorable moments in recent history. Sunday had everything you could possibly want in a golf round. Sergio Garcia provided us with one of the most depressing quotes from an athlete, ever. Both Bo Van Pelt and Adam Scott aced the par-3 16th hole, with Van Pelt falling just one stroke shy of tying the all-time record for lowest round in a Major. Louis Oosthuizen had the first ever double eagle at the second hole, and the first double eagle to be televised live in Masters history. Phil Mickelson showed us how going for broke can cost you everything, with a series of poor shots on the par-3 fourth hole. And finally, Bubba Watson gave us an emotional finish for the ages, reminding us just how much this tournament really means. This is the wrap up…
Copying Bubba’s all-or-nothing style, Dave put the pedal to the metal and applied all three of his Osicki Explosions this week, netting 145 Osicki points. A last minute change to his lineup saw him pull his Osicki from Bubba Watson to Charl Schwartzel, a decision that despite carding more than 500 points this week, he will certainly regret. With his first Major victory, Bubba Watson soars to the top of the league’s standings, with a ridiculous 405 points, an average of 57 points a start. Not to be forgotten in all the hype, is Lee Westwood. There is a reason why Westwood is third in the Official World Golf Rankings, and that is because he ALWAYS shows up for the Majors. For those of you following at home, Westwood has finished inside the top three in SEVEN of his last TEN Major championships. Westwood’s third place finish this week earns Dave 160 points with the Osicki, but don’t be surprised if you see Lee with a Major championship before the year is over. Dave has clearly hit the jackpot with his keepers this year. Justin Rose’s third top ten of the season earned Dave another 100 points(with Osicki), and Rose is up to 295 points on the season. You can’t really blame Dave for Osicki-ing Charl Schwartzel, as the South African is the defending champion. His top fifty probably won’t cause Dave to lose any sleep, but had that Osicki stayed on Bubba Watson, Dave’s total for the week would have been 715 points, 25 less than Brent has scored all year. If anyone could learn a thing or two about loosening up from Bubba Watson, it’s Sergio Garcia. The enigmatic Spaniard finished in the top fifteen, but his comments on Sunday morning about never being able to win a Major drew more attention. Sergio is playing some of the best golf he’s played in years, and it’s a shame to hear his attitude doesn’t reflect that. It’s safe to say that Dave has put last year’s poor rookie season behind him(he’s just five top tens away from matching his total from all of last year), and with as explosive a team as he has, this could be the start of a dynasty of his own.
Unless you’re already in first, there aren’t too many weeks where you can score 250+ points and stay put at the spot you’re in, but that’s what happened to James this week. His very respectable total was merely doubled by Dave, and James finds himself still in solo second place. While 255 points doesn’t seem depressing, this is a week that could have been so much more. Rory McIlroy came into the Masters as one of the clear cut favorites to win the tournament, or at least contend come Sunday afternoon. A disastrous weekend of 77-76 ended any chance of that, and resulted in a 15 point Osicki Explosion. Nick Watney was also in position to break his slump going into the weekend, but like so many of James’ other players, a butchered final round dropped him out of the top 25. Jason Dufner held a share of the 36-hole lead, and it was deduced by James that he warranted a Mulligan, but he too dropped out of contention and into a tie for 24th. Geoff Ogilvy’s nasty trash stache hasn’t done much for him so far this year, but with a fourth place finish in last year’s Masters, history was on Ogilvy’s side. The Aussie finished well and cracked the top 25, earning 25 points. Finally we come to the emotional core of James’ team. Since he started following golf in the early 2000’s, Phil Mickelson has been James’ favorite player, period. To see Phil Mickelson in contention coming into Sunday afternoon, on a course where he ALWAYS shows up brought high hopes for James. However, as always with Lefty, you’ve got to take the exceptionally good with the horrendously bad. Although he fought hard to get back into it, Phil’s triple bogey on the fourth hole was too costly, and he had to settle for 80 points and a share of third place. James is right in the thick of things right now, with the top three on the leaderboard exchanging salvos, this season could be one for the ages.
It’s hard to remember the last time Beast didn’t move either up or down on the leaderboard after a tournament. Although he could use the exercise either way, the league’s eldest member definitely prefers to be moving up as opposed to down. This week he has Matt Kuchar to thank for his climb two spots up the leaderboard. Kuchar has been arguably the most consistent player in golf over the last two years, and his four top tens in his last four weeks certainly show it. Kooch was definitely in contention on the back nine today, but a couple of short lip outs caused him to wind up with a share of third. Although it was not well publicized, Jason Day withdrew from the tournament on Friday because of an injury to his foot. The loss of Day was a costly one, as the talented Aussie finished tied for second last year, and almost certainly could have had a top 25 showing this year. The fact that Steve Stricker has not won a Major yet is a crime, but he’ll need to play better than he did this week if he hopes to get his first. Rounds of 77 and 75 cost Stricker dearly this week, and time is running out for him to pick up that first Major that everyone wants to see him win. Bo Van Pelt has been Beast’s secret weapon over the first three seasons of SSF golf. Although he has never kept him, Beast always seems to end up with BVP on his roster, and for a good reason. Van Pelt has four top tens, and the second most points on Beast’s squad(excluding free agent pickup Mark Wilson). Although he couldn’t manage a top ten this week, Bo Van Pelt’s Sunday round of -8 was the low round of the Tournament, and earned beast 25 much needed points. Finally we come to Furyk, who Beast decided to Osicki due to his very recent success. Although I didn’t see one televised shot of Furyk over the week, he still managed a top 15 and 35 Osicki’d points. All-in-all, Beast is still a long way off from third, but the 190 points this week is a good start.
It seems like no matter how many points Brent scores, he still cannot seem to get out of last place. The league’s bottom dweller has been closing the gap for a while now, and it seems like he’s finally within range of the coveted sixth place. The story of the week for Brent was Peter Hanson, whose third place finish gave him 80 points and he now has more points than *gasp* Luke Donald! Hanson has been on fire in the big tournaments this year, finishing in the top five in both WGCs and now the Masters. There are rumors that Brent may be putting him on the trading block for some young talent, and a Major performer could do a lot of good on certain teams. Despite winning at the Transitions championship, Luke Donald has not been himself so far this year, and that may be one of the reasons why Brent’s team is struggling so much. Donald’s -4 round today still only gave him a share of 32nd, as two 75s and a 73 on the first three days took him totally out of the tournament. Adam Scott and his disgrace of a putting style have been invisible so far this year on tour, but a round of -6 on Sunday resulted in a top 10, and a solid 50 points. There isn’t much to say about Sang-Moon Bae and K.J. Choi. Choi shot himself out of the tournament in spectacular fashion, posting 77-76 to miss the cut, and Bae’s Sunday 77 ended his chance at a top ten, as he finished in 37th. Brent has been steadily closing that gap, and now finds himself in position to make a move for fourth place if he can get a couple of big weeks in the tournaments to come.
Another Major has come and gone where Hunter Mahan has failed to make a splash. He’s one of the most consistent players in the world, but Hunter Mahan’s tie for 12th at this year’s Masters was his best finish since his top ten here in 2010. While winning tournaments like the Shell Houston Open is all fine and dandy, at some point a golfer of Mahan’s caliber needs to step it up in the Majors, where Pros become Legends. Despite the higher expectations, Mahan still earned 70 points this week with his Osicki Explosion, and now sits at 360 on the season. Graeme McDowell has been experiencing a bit of a renascence as of late, with his top fifteen at the Masters giving him 155 points on the season. He may not put up huge numbers, but players like McDowell provide excellent depth. Brandt Snedeker has gone into a bit of a mini-slump over his last few weeks, but his top 25 this week should help break him out of it. Martin Kaymer made the cut this week, for the first time in five tries at the Masters. Although he couldn’t muster anything more than a top fifty, making the cut shows progress, and there is a reason why Kaymer is ranked in the top 10 in the world. Finally we have John Sended, who started the season off hot, but has cooled down significantly since then, missing the cut this week with 74-76. Scoring 145 and still dropping two spots on the leaderboard is tough, but Fuchs is still streets ahead of fourth place, and has thoroughly proven he can play with the big boys.
Any time you score under 100 points in a Major it’s discouraging, but when Ian Poulter pulls in a top ten from the bench, and the legendary Miguel Angel Jimenez cards a Sunday 81, it’s downright disturbing. Lawrence certainly talked a good game coming into this week, but his team just couldn’t keep up. Dave summed it up best with the memorable quote, “you probably have the worst roster in the league”. Lawrence’s team has been respectable so far this year, but top fifties this week by Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, and Vijay Singh definitely do not cut it, especially with an Osicki on Bradley. After the first couple of days, Miguel Angel Jimenez looked poised to claim his first top ten at the Masters since 2008, but a Sunday round that included six bogeys and two double bogeys ended his hopes for glory as he finished outside the top 50. The only thing that salvaged the week for Lawrence was Kevin Na’s four under par final round, which landed him 35 points and in the top 15. Lawrence needs to keep an eye on that rear-view, as he could soon find himself in last place with a lifetime supply of beaking from Dave.
Finally we come to Bryce. This week has no doubt been a huge letdown for team Brycer. Sources close to Bryce report that sometime Wednesday afternoon, Bryce had actually hired English-based graffiti artist and political activist Banksy to paint an 800 square foot image of his roster including an Osicki’d 200 points in week 13 from Tiger on the underside of the Chief Peguis bridge. After a week that saw him earn just 60 points and fall into fifth place, Bryce has most certainly cancelled that arrangement. Tiger Woods, the pre-tournament favorite of MASSIVE proportions, wound up finishing the week at +5, his worst ever at Augusta. While this may be just a bump in the road to recovery for Tiger, it’s hard to ignore how poorly he played this week at a tournament where the last time he finished outside of the top ten was 2004. Tiger wasn’t the only disappointing storyline for Bryce this week. Dustin Johnson withdrew because of back issues before the tournament even began, and his replacement Gary Woodland withdrew before the tournament could finish. Martin Laird has been a total bust so far this season, as he made the cut this week, but couldn’t crack the top 50. Bill Haas and Aaron Baddeley managed to earn some points, both finishing in the top 50, but for a team with expectations as high as Bryce’s, that simply doesn’t cut it. It’s fairly evident at this point that Bryce’s success relies on that of Tiger, and the way he looked this week, it could be quite the up-and-down season for Brycer.
Well we’re finished week thirteen of our thirty six week season, and there has been no shortage of storylines so far this year. The league has now won 11 of the 13 tournaments so far this year, and is on pace for record wins. Hopefully it keeps up and I look forward to seeing you all next week at the RBC Heritage!