It Was ‘Must-See TV’ For A While, But Then the No-Names of Today’s PGA Make Final Few Holes Anti-Climatic
Things were starting out great on Sunday of the Masters.
It was 25 years since Jack Nicklaus’ final-day charge to the green jacket, the single greatest moment of golf for the past quarter century. And now Tiger Woods was making a charge; he was 5-under before making the turn. He had gone from seven strokes off the lead to being in contention. This had the potential to be another great moment of this greatest of golf tournaments.
This was much-see TV, even on a sunny day in many parts of the country, a “where were you when” moment that happens on occasion in sports.
But, almost as suddenly as it started, it ended. Tiger stalled. The next-best story – 21-year-old third-round leader Rory McIlroy – blew up on the back nine like an inflatable doll at a Star Trek convention.
And suddenly, the must-watch Masters became a yawn. Tiger finished earlier than the leaders at -10 but those leaders were more anonymous than many bloggers (not Sideline Sam, of course). Perhaps they should go on Dancing With the Stars. If, of course, they were stars.
The contenders were Luke Donald, Angel Cabrera and a pair of Aussies, Jason Day and Adam Scott. Of these, only Cabrera had any name recognition, as he won here just two years ago. But Cabrera was hardly the same happy guy of ’09; the whole time it seemed like he knew he would not win and he was just trying to get through the day.
Some guy named Chari Schwartzel won this time. And good for him. But just who the heck is this guy!?
Scott, who got into contention on the back nine and even took the lead, got on the bad side of Sideline Sam by laying up – laying UP! – on the par 5 15th, a hole he had eagled earlier in the week. The reason Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors is that he played to win; he did not lay up on the back nine of the final round of the Masters. This was a Tom Kite moment, not Nicklaus.
And so, with Tiger in the clubhouse and a bunch of no-names left on course, the entertainment came from none other than McIlroy. who suddenly went from pro to hacker. It was fun to watch, not because seeing a man struggle under the immense pressure of a major is pleasing, but because he became every golfer watching on TV who hits trees coming out of the rough and misses short putts as part of their regular game. We could relate to him. Golf is a lot of misery with a few shining moments of extreme pleasure, and that’s what McIlroy experienced on this day.
McIlroy handled it with class afterward, and perhaps he will become someone to root for in the future. But until golf can find a replacement for Woods – someone who can win more than one tournament in a row or once in blue moon – watching golf will continue to be a good view spoiled.