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Master’s Day #3

Tiger Woods didn’t play that well today. His putts just didn’t drop. Rory McIlroy played a very solid round and leads by four strokes. It is his tournament to win or lose now. KJ Choi played very steady and made putts. Angel Cabrera played lights out all day along with Adam Scott. They both shot a 67. Bo Van Pelt shot a 68. I was hoping that Fred Couples would have made a charge but it didn’t happen. There were several other big names who really didn’t do much today. Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood come to mind. They are nine strokes back. It is up to Rory.

From ESPN:

It was a roar that defines the Masters, so loud it startled even Tiger Woods.

Rory McIlroy, who already dazzled the crowd with a shot through the pines to the back of the 17th green, raised the putter in his left hand as the birdie putt turned toward the hole, then slammed his right fist when the ball disappeared into the cup.

The cheer was so clamorous that Woods, who had settled over his shot in the 18th fairway, had to back away. After all these years of crushing the hopes of so many others, the four-time Masters champ finally felt what it was like on the other end.

That moment — and right now, this Masters — belongs to McIlroy.

“I had been waiting on a putt to drop all day,” McIlroy said Saturday. “And for it to drop there, it was great timing.”

Tiger, Phil and the Masters

This was a great weekend of golf. The Masters at Augusta. The weather was perfect. Sure, on Thursday there were some sprinkles and there was some wind on Friday, but for the most part the temperatures were mild and the greens were fast. Everyone, including myself, wanted to know about Tiger Woods. Well, Tiger played great for somebody who has had all of the distractions that he’s had. I describe his final round as up and down. I’m not sure how you play a round of golf, end up with a score of 69 and have people say that it’s disappointing. Those are the kind of expectations that Tiger Woods has set up. Back to Tiger in a minute… Phil Mickelson.

Fewer than 10 years ago, those television pundits were talking about how Phil Mickelson might go down as the greatest golfer never to win a major. He actually has 37 PGA Tour wins and three major titles. Now, he has a fourth major title. His third Masters. They’re even pundits, probably those same pundits, who are saying that it’s highly likely that Phil Mickelson will surpass Jack Nicklaus’ six green jackets. All I know is Phil Mickelson played consistently good golf for four days in a row. He played a bogey-free final round. I thought his back-to-back eagles on Saturday gave him the confidence to know that he could win. You know there’s a time when you’re playing a contest when you simply know you’re going to win and it doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says. You know that you’re going to play well enough to win. I think on Saturday, Phil Mickelson hit that spot. Now, the shop that everyone is talking about was on 13. He was in the pine straw. He hit a six iron over 200 yards to land on the green. From my standpoint, the amazing part of the shot was that he was able to get the ball up and over the sand trap.

There are three other short stories that I’d like to tell you about the Masters. The first is about Fred Couples. He is 50 years old and still one of the best ball strikers on the tour. His opening round was a 66. He was playing great on Friday until the last three holes. He reportedly had back spasms. You really can’t play golf with back spasms. (I’m not sure what sport you can play with back spasms.) Hell, he’s 50 years old. He’s allowed to have back spasms. He shot a 75. That’s kind of sad because he shot a 68 on Saturday and a 70 on Sunday. He played well enough to win… except for that three hole stretch on Friday. Isn’t it amazing that you can play 72 holes of gold and have three holes blew it for you? These guys are that close in talent. He came in sixth place at nine under par.

Anthony Kim is a 24-year-old American who is playing some absolutely fabulous golf. He reminds me a little of Tiger Woods when he was younger. There’s no shot that Anthony Kim seems to be afraid to try. He had an amazing stretch on Sunday where he had two birdies, followed by an eagle and then another birdie. That really skyrocketed him into the top of the leaderboard. He had the lowest round of the tournament — 65. This is a guy to watch.

Lee Westwood led going into Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, he played his worst golf on Sunday. Normally, you would like to play your best golf on Sunday. He got into trouble early with a bogey on the first hole. He remedied that bogey with a birdie on the next hole. He got in trouble again on four and again on nine. He shot bogeys on both of them. On the back nine he really settled down. He eliminated the bogeys and added two birdies. He really showed grace under pressure. I would like to see him win a major.

Finally, there’s all the psychoanalysis about Phil Mickelson and his wife, who had cancer. There’s the same $.25 analysis of Tiger Woods. Basically, these guys have proven that they can put adversity aside and play some amazing golf. I suspect the next 5-10 years we’ll see more great golf and both of these golfers. In the meantime, stop with the overanalyzing and I need to take more golf lessons.

Grab Bag — Saturday (Updated)

  • The third round of the Masters has started. Lee Westwood, who has been playing some really good golf over the last two years, is tied for the lead. My golf instructor told me to watch Fred Couples. He had problems yesterday with 16, 17 and 18 and had a disappointing round of 75. Today he is three under through eight holes and is in fourth place. Not bad for a 50-year-old man. Tom Watson is in 11th place and he is 60. Everyone is watching Tiger Woods, who is playing the kind of up-and-down golf that he sometimes plays. He is clearly in the hunt. The weather is perfect. There should be some great golf today.
  • With Judge John Paul Stevens stepping down from the Supreme Court, SCOTUSBlog had a really nice piece yesterday discussing on how the “Kennedy court” will be shifting.
  • When is the Catholic Church going to simply hold a press conference and come clean? When are they going to stand up for the people they say they serve?
  • I hope that everybody realizes that the health-care debate is not over. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
  • There’s an excellent article in the New England Journal of Medicine about the public opinion of healthcare reform at the time that reform passed. It’s kind of interesting when you drill through the numbers. 90% of the population thought that is a good idea to have tax breaks for small businesses to help cover workers and make healthcare more affordable. 36% of Americans thought it was a good idea to reduce Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals. Of the stuff that was asked but not in the bill, 69% of Americans thought that was a great idea to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada. By the way, where was that in the final bill?
  • Finally, a lot of Americans are really upset over the individual mandate. I’m not sure I understand their objections, but their argument goes something like how can Congress force me to buy a product? The problem with healthcare is that if you do not have health insurance and get sick it is possible for you to run up a bill that you can never pay off ($500,000 – $2,000,000 in some cases). That’s the problem. To me, the individual mandate forces us to join the largest insurance pool possible. This in turn drives down costs for all of us. I guess you can look at it the other way. Suppose you are a 20-year-old healthy male and decide that you’re not buying into any insurance plan. In your early 30s you develop hypertension but don’t take your medication and still don’t go to a doctor or join a health-care plan. In your 40s, as your kidneys begin to fail, should you be allowed then to join the health-care pool? Individual mandate should help premiums stay low for all of us.
  • Has anybody seen any new movies? Anything good out there?


  • Phil Mickelson powered behind back-to-back eagles is six under today and has taken the lead at the Masters. Tiger Woods started off strong but has been struggling most of the day.
  • When is Sarah Palin‘s five minutes of fame going to be over? Snake oil science? Did she go to school? I mean, did she even go to high school? Man, I find her irritating.
  • Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, died in a plane crash. Wow, this is weird.
  • Michael Steele holds the key to the Republican hopes in November, or so he says. Do you think that he has a head injury? Is that why he acts the way that he does?
  • Republican restraint and fiscal responsibility. Don’t laugh.
  • Is it legal for the President of the US to order to have someone killed? What if that someone were a radical Muslim cleric living in Yemen? What if this cleric were an American citizen with ties to two people who were known terrorists?