Has the Masters lost its luster?

Published: Apr 12, 2014 13:13pm EDT
By JLangley4, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 15, 2014 @ 10:34am EDT

 

Bubba Watson won his first career major when he overtook the field and won in thrilling fashion in 2012 at Augusta National. Now, Watson stand two rounds away from accomplishing that same feat, only this time, with some notable names not around to add to the weekend thrill.

Tiger Woods announced last week that he would not only miss the Masters tournament, but that he would miss some considerable time after undergoing surgery to correct a pinched nerve in his back, an injury that players like Fred Couples and Graham DeLaet know a lot about. Woods is likely going to miss the U.S Open at Pinehurst, and is in serious danger of missing the British Open in June. Phil Mickelson missed the cut and won't be playing on the weekend, and other notable major winners like Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner will also be going home a lot earlier than expected.

The disappointment of a diminished field of proven players is enough to disappoint the average golf fan, but does this take away from the excitement around the Masters? Sure, popular player Rory McIlroy isn't near the top of the leader board and defending champion Adam Scott still sits a few strokes back of the leader, but this is a twist in an event that should be embraced, not scorned. The game of golf has long craved the parity that currently exists, and with every new champion brings hope to others. Young gun Jordan Spieth is sitting within striking distance of the lead, a player who was playing to earn his tour card just a year ago.

If Bubba Watson converts his 36-hole lead into a second Masters championship, does it bring the same enjoyment knowing the likes of Woods and Mickelson are sitting at home, not able to challenge for the title? Why not? Watson did it two years ago, and it counts no less now just because it is John Senden sitting in second, and not Tiger Woods. The challenge of the course is still the same, no matter who is in the field. To put it simply, you'd better bring your A-game to win this course, no matter who is in contention.

Sure, we can sit here and theorize that Woods or a healthy Mickelson would be right around the top of the leader board pushing the leaders to the ultimate brink. It was only a year ago that Woods hit the flagstick on hole 15, essentially losing what would have been a 36-hole lead for him and when Woods gets the 36-hole lead, he is tough to beat. A healthy Tiger Woods would likely be right there at the top, as he usually is. However, this does not diminish what a player like Bubba Watson is doing. Watson took a tough course on Friday, and turned in a 68, one of the better scores of the day.

Winning at Augusta is not about who shoots the best round; it is about who plays four consistent rounds. If Watson turns in two more consistent rounds, he should be donning another green jacket, and the honor is still as prestigious as it was with the two big names in the field. Look at the tournament for what it is, not who is in the field. 


 

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