AUGUSTA — I’ll post a full column soon on Jordan Spieth’s dominating performance in the Masters shortly. Until then, here are my three short takes on the day:
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full column.
1. The Next One is here: It’s risky to anticipate the next dominant figure in a sport but Jordan Spieth looks to be just that. He finished tied for second place in his rookie Masters a year ago. He won this year’s tournament by going wire to wire, something that had been done only four times before and not since Raymond Floyd in 1976. Augusta National was his playground. He made a record number of birdies (28) and won with a tournament-record tying score of 18-under 270. He missed a 5-foot par putt on 18 for a bogey or he would’ve had the record at 19-under. He can be forgiven. Expect Spieth to leap to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Rory McIlory, and as McIlroy himself said Sunday of Spieth’s week: “It’s impressive. I’m sure he’ll win many more.”
2. Tiger Woods is on the road back: Woods showed enough this week to suggest he can compete for majors again but that will largely depend on how much he plays and is able to eliminate the kinks in his game. Woods started and ended the tournament with 73s (not good) but he finished the tournament at 5-under for his best finish in a tournament since 2013. His ultimately undoing wasn’t chipping but rather erratic tee shots and poor putting. He hit only 2 of 14 fairways Sunday, leading to five bogeys. Woods’ days of domination are almost certainly over because of all the young talent on the Tour now. But he can still win tournaments if he can stay healthy, which has been an issue. On the ninth hole, Woods was hitting out of pinestraw when his club hit a root and Woods immediately dropped the club in pain. Quote: “The bone popped out, the joint popped out of place.” OK, he’s not a doctor.
3. Bubba makes cut, not history: When Bubba Watson walked to the 18th green on the Masters’ Sunday in 2012 and 2014, it sounded like Sanford Stadium with all of the barking. When he walked to the 18th green on Sunday this year, two fans barked. Watson, trying to become only the fourth champion in history to win consecutive titles, made the cut but accomplished little else. After entering the weekend at 2-under par, Watson shot 73 Saturday and 74 Sunday to finish the tournament at 1-over. He struggled on the greens and finished with as many bogeys as birdies (15 each). He played the par-4s at 10-over in four rounds. It was enough to keep Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02) in safe company as the only three to successfully defend Masters titles. But there’s this: If the on-again, off-again trend continues in 2016, watch out for Bubba next year.
•Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox — MyAJC: It’s a Masters Sunday, and here comes old Phil Mickelson — AJC: Masters short takes: Spieth hopes to avoid Norman flashback — MyAJC: Jordan Spieth toying with Augusta, Masters’ field — AJC: Masters short takes: Spieth’s historic run, and the other guy — MyAJC: Woods is back, or he’s not, or he is, or he’s not… — AJC: Masters short takes: The future (Spieth) and the past (Crenshaw) — AJC: It’s Masters morning and old guys have laready withdrawn — MyAJC: On eve of final Masters, Ben Crenshaw embracing every moment — MyAJC: Woods loose, confident, but is he really ready for Masters — MyAJC: Braves stop the noise with opening victory — AJC: Short takes: Small ball, Teheran, bullpen and a Braves’ win — AJC: LIVE: Braves (or what’s left of them) open series vs. Marlins — AJC: Braves’ deal saves budget (Upton) but drives nail in season (Kimbrel) — MyAJC: Trade reaffirms Braves’ decision to go backward before forward — MyAJC: With expectations low, at least Braves won’t underachieve — AJC: Hawks’ biggest nightmare: Millsap suffers shoulder injury — MyAJC: Hawks’ turnaround started with trade of Joe Johnson — and he knows it — AJC: (Updated) Hank Haney was right — Tiger Woods to play in Masters — AJC: Braves’ deal for Trevor Cahill illustrates concerns about rotation — MyAJC: Real news would be Tiger Woods making shots — AJC: Tiger Woods’ plane in Augusta but status for Masters still uncertain