That was the dullest Masters since Chip Beck threw in the towel to Bernhard Langer on the fifteenth fairway in 1997. And the more so since Saturday’s finish seemed so promising.
Here was the leaderboard at the close of play Saturday:p>Trevor Immelman -11 br> Brandt Snedeker -9 br> Steve Flesch -8 br> Paul Casey -7 br> Tiger Woods -5 br> Stuart Cink -4 br> Phil Mickelson -2 /p>
Great stuff. The scoreboard brimmed with new talent and with worthy veterans, with only a single former Masters champ in the top six. Mickelson, at two under, was a distant threat. It made you remember some of the great three- and four-way races of the past: Woosnam-Watkins-Watson in 91. Couples, Duval, Furyk and O’Meara in 98.
Plus, the two top finishers Saturday shaped up as the most intriguing final pair match in years. Trevor Immelman, 27, son of a South African golf official, looks like he was born wearing slacks. Tennessean Brandt Snedeker, 28, has a mischievous grin like the guy who’s got the firecrackers stashed in his back pocket.
Immelman, Snedeker, and, in the group ahead, balding mensch Steve Flesch hit fantastic approaches to eighteen on Saturday and finished with birdies on that very difficult hole.
Then came Sunday and everybody fell to pieces. My young friend Matt Linde, who’s in a golf academy in Florida and playing mini-tour events, says it was just the bad weather. Yes, it was in the sixties, with wind. I don’t think that’s the whole story.
I think that dreary parade of front- and back-nine 39s and 40s was made inevitable when the Lords of the Masters Tiger-proofed their course, bit by bit from about 2000 onward. What should be a journey around a grove-spotted meadow now has turned into a torturous slog through a brutally long series of pinched corridors.
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