Jeremy Harris: My US Masters report card
The 2014 US Masters concluded on Sunday at Augusta National with American Bubba Watson picking up his second green jacket in three years. It was a war of attrition on the final day as first Watson, then rookie Jordan Spieth, then little-known Jonas Blixt, then pre-tournament favourite Matt Kuchar and even tour veteran Fred Couples jostled for position on a day where the temperatures waltzed pass the 32°C mark, the greens turned to granite and the patrons greedily drank in the intense golf on offer.
At the end, my five pre-tournament picks of Ernie Els (missed cut), Charl Schwartzel (missed cut), Dustin Johnson (missed cut), Adam Scott (tied 14th) and Matt Kuchar (tied fifth) would have probably earned me an afternoon or two of golf detention. But I would remain unrepentant as both Els and Schwartzel missed the cut by one shot while Johnson's injury in the week just before the Masters will surely be viewed as genuine extenuating circumstances.
It was most disappointing though to see the South African delegation melt away into thin air as five of the six players were eliminated within two days and an ill Louis Oosthuizen was left to scratch his way to an admirable (under the circumstances) 3 over par tournament total and 25th position on his own.
However, I was obliged to add a comments/observations section on this report card and so here are some of mine.
- It seems that a tournament (even a Major) without Tiger Woods isn't the kiss of death it used to be. Patrons who were canvassed (and there were several!) felt that his absence would not affect the quality of the event, and most of them seemed to have other favourites to support anyway. Don't misunderstand me. I think the world number one player deserves his place in a Major field and will bring a different dimension to the level of competition. But it was encouraging that the golfing world seems ready to move on and will support events whether Woods is playing or not.
- For some reason not too many people had thrown Watson's name into the hat as a potential winner. I think it's fair to say we won't be making that mistake again. What I like about Watson is he wears his heart on his sleeve, you can almost feel his emotion through the round and you could sense the tears welling up after his winning putt gave him green jacket number two. Watson is well known for having had no formal coaching, he loves to shape the ball in the air and is on record saying he hates to hit the ball straight, and then he is notorious for bludgeoning the ball well into the 300 metre territory. This past weekend he showed he has added accurate putting and a quality short-game to his quiver. And as I said we won't be ignoring his claims again in the future.
- Jordan Spieth has got game. He's just 20 years old, he played in his first US Masters and he almost won. He would have learned from this tournament because Spieth is a man who doesn't take to losing well. Yes, he needs to grow up and be a bit more gracious and mature, but he is set to go places. In fact, the one place I see him going to in the not-too-distant future is the world number one spot, he is that good.
Some experts I've spoken to say they were frustrated by the tournament, and that they didn't enjoy watching the sport's "lesser lights" tussling it out for one of golf's greatest prizes. For my part, I enjoyed the contest between experience and youth, between brawn and finesse.
I say well done Bubba - you deserve that second green jacket, and that extra helping of celebratory waffles with the family on Monday.
Jeremy Harris is the sports anchor at 94.5 Kfm on the Breakfast Show. He is a keen golfer and plays off a 6 at his home club, Arabella. Follow him on Twitter @jeremyharris55.