Monday, April 11, 2005Still Undisputed...
Nine up, Nine down, nine more to go.
It definitely wasn't easy, but the excitement was great and the ratings prove that Tiger Woods remains golf's biggest draw, well above the other "Big Four". [Mediaweek]
So here's my analysis of the Masters in a Q & A format.
Did DiMarco Choke?
Yes, there's no way to hide that his 41 on the back nine Sunday morning was anything less than a choke, he was virtually unbeatable on this course otherwise and his lapse in the morning was the difference in the tournament. Otherwise he wins by at least 5 strokes.
That being said, he showed so much talent and he officially became the best player on tour not to win a major, zipping by the fading Sergio Garcia (what's happened to that guy?). I thought he was going to fold up tent early in the final round especially when the pyschology of watching Tiger hit his ball 50-70 yards farther got to him. But DiMarco stayed strong and was smart enough to stay out of Woods' way when he struggled.
However, DiMarco also missed four birdie putts inside of eight feet, that's inexcusable. And he made the same poor approach shot on 18 twice. Tiger corrected his mistake the second time and got the birdie putt instead of the more difficult chip-in.
How Many Majors for Tiger in 2005?
I say two, it's an easy answer because he is so at home in the British Open, which is where he's finished the highest at consistently during this "slump" and he loves the course at St. Andrews.
That being said, he could have three because if he's striking the ball well, Pinehurst No. 2 is a very long, very appealing course for him.
But I'm sticking with a win at the Masters and another one at the British Open, which means he will have won all four majors at least twice.
Will He Catch Nicklaus?
In terms of Masters...Absolutely. I do believe Woods will win 8 Masters as long at Hootie and the Hillbillies don't continue to try an handicap him, like with this recent hubbub about going to "Masters" only balls. [Knight-Ridder]. I don't understand the theory of lengthening the course and then shortening the ball distance unless the Masters wants +4 to start winning.
Otherwise I think Tiger is in great shape to have more green jackets than Nicklaus.
As for overall majors. That I don't know, 18 is a pretty daunting number, I mean Woods "only" has nine. 14-15 seems like a much more realistic number and given the talent in this era it's a very big accomplishment.
Best Win Ever?
I think so, this is only the second time he was truly challenged face up in the final round and unlike the perfect back nine he played against Bob May against the PGA he actually struggled down the stretch at Augusta.
He didn't have the momentum going into the playoff, having just bogeyed 18 and almost watching DiMarco win on a miracle chip-in. But he persevered and made the adjustment on his approach shot that DiMarco didn't.
This is his most memorable victory, from the chip on 16, to the dedication to his sick father, to the criticism he's received for trying to change his swing and getting married and losing focus and...whatever else they can pin on him. He dealt with a lot of adversity and hung in there. This was a hard victory to get.
Congrats to both men for a great Masters Sunday.