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Masters Results 2013: The 10 Biggest Takeaways from Augusta National

Ron JuckettContributor IIIApril 14, 2013

Masters Results 2013: The 10 Biggest Takeaways from Augusta National

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    Adam Scott has his first major.

    Scott birdied the second playoff hole at a rain-soaked Augusta National Golf Club to win the 2013 Masters Sunday evening.

    In what will go down as one of the most memorable Masters in history, Scott's win is the crowning achievement.

    From Tiger Woods' crazy Friday to an amazing performance from a 14-year-old kid from China, here are the 10 biggest takeaways from the first major of the season.

10. Augusta National Must Be Thrilled with Course Layout

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    After Tiger Woods tore through the '97 Masters with a record-setting 18-under 270, there were considerable changes made to "Tiger-proof" the course.

    Augusta National was lengthened from around 6,970 yards to 7,435 in 2013 while retaining the par of 72. Winning scores started to creep closer to even par.

    It appears the course is starting to play again like it did before the expansion. Birdies are there to be had and precision shot-making is being rewarded.

    Eight-under 280 is the ideal winning score here, and in 2013, nine-under 279 was the magic number.

9. Changes to Cut Rule Added to Richness of Tournament

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    Augusta National chairman Billy Payne's pre-tournament announcement to expand the weekend field to players either in the top 50 or within 10 shots of the lead has been exceptional.

    Before, only those T44 and above played the last two rounds, regardless of how far/close back they were in the field.

    The biggest beneficiary of the change was the 14-year-old wonder kid from China, Tianlang Guan. He would have finished outside that old cut line, but his four-over was within the new 10-shot rule on the number, and he was one of 61 players to play the weekend.

    At Augusta, 10 shots going into the weekend can be made up. Allowing that line to stand will also pay dividends in the future, as someone from that cut line will win for an amazing comeback story.

8. Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan Among Biggest Surprises to Miss Cut

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    There are always a number of big names that fail to play the weekend at any major, and this year's Masters was no exception.

    Such luminaries as Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen were among those who were on the wrong side of that five-over cut.

    However, the respective absences of Ian Poulter and Hunter Mahan were especially surprising.

    Normally a very good putter, Poulter never got into a good rhythm. He had a hard time finding fairways and made only 20 of 36 greens.

    Mahan's iron game, on the other hand, was just awful. After finding 75 percent of the fairways, he barely hit half the greens in regulation. Mahan's 14-over par tied him with former champions Ian Woosnam and Craig Stadler and only beat three others in the field.

    *Statistics via Masters.com

7. Rory McIlroy Is Still a Puzzle

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    Whether he is still struggling with his new equipment, all the demands of his celebrity, simply not comfortable with his current game in general or a combination of the three, this was not a great week for Rory McIlroy.

    After grinding out a tough even-par 72 Thursday, McIlroy played a much more consistent round Friday in the wind and went into the weekend at two under.

    However, Saturday saw the wheels fall off and a seven-over 79—highlighted by a double and triple bogey on the second nine—doomed his chances.

    With the pressure off Sunday, McIlroy fired a three-under 69 to finish the week with a disappointing two-over 290.

    There will be green jackets in his future, but it is important now, as he struggles, that he keeps all those building blocks together and keeps loving the game he is so good at.

6. Phil Mickelson Is Soul Searching Again

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    A player can contend for and possibly win the Masters well into his 50s. Phil Mickelson will have plenty of chances to grab another green jacket.

    Still, his nine-over 297 performance is troubling.

    He still has all the capability; earlier this year at Scottsdale, he lipped out a putt that would have given him a 59. He only broke par here once this week, a one-under 71 Thursday. 

    On the 12th tee and about to swing, his caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay backed him off. Mickelson looked confused and ended up with a double-bogey five after a putt into the water.

    He did not look right thereafter and will undoubtedly be deep in thought over his recent struggles.

5. Jason Day Is Within a Whisper of His First Major

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    It was an adrenaline-aided tee shot on the par-three 16th that was the undoing of Jason Day.

    After dropping shots on the last two holes Saturday, Day came out firing Sunday. A birdie at the first was followed by an eagle-chip out of the bunker at the second. Bogeys at six and nine were erased by three straight birdies on 13, 14 and 15.

    However, by missing the 16th green long, Day could not recover. After another bogey at 17, his chance to win was done.

    This is Day's second top-three here in three years. At 25, Day will have more chances. He plays well under the intense pressure of the majors, just not well enough yet.

4. Angel Cabrera: Two Inches Short

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    Give Angel Cabrera credit.

    After taking two birdies on the first nine Sunday, unforced errors led to bogeys on 10 and 13 after he found water on his second shot.

    Cabrera—never one to lose himself in frustration—hitched his pants and birdied the difficult par-three 16th and claimed his place in the playoff after a beautiful approach on 18 landed a few feet from the hole.

    With his son on the bag the entire weekend, Cabrera did not lose the 2013 Masters as much as Adam Scott's clutch putts on 18 in regulation and on the second playoff hole won it. With the first bid for birdie on 10, it fell two inches above the hole.

    The 43-year-old will undoubtedly continue to surprise in future majors.

3. Tiger Woods Made the Best out of Friday's Mess

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    In playing perhaps the most famous triple bogey in Masters history Friday, it did not look like it was going to be Tiger Woods' week.

    After spinning his third shot on the par-five 15th hole off the flag stick and into the water, Woods' initial bogey dropped him out of the share of the lead he was in. Another bogey on the 18th and Tiger looked like he was headed back into his majors pattern of last year—contend and fade.

    Then all heck broke loose after his round. That drop he made from the water on the 15th was deemed illegal after Tiger's comments post-round on television. At first, the rules committee initially ruled his play correct.

    Woods arrived Saturday and was slapped with an additional two-shot penalty for the violation and was not disqualified for Augusta's error. Tiger took advantage by earning those two shots back on Saturday, finally playing the second nine under par for the first time in eight tries.

    Sunday started off on the wrong foot as he dropped shots on Holes 5 and 7. With the rain slowing down the greens, Woods had it figured out on the ninth, as he would birdie four out of six holes to get to five under.

    However pars at 16 and 17 froze him there and a tie for fourth was the best he could do. 

2. Tianlang Guan's Poise and Maturity Is Amazing

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    If grabbing an automatic spot in the field was not enough for the 14-year-old Tianlang Guan, maybe being the only amateur of the six to make the cut would be.

    Guan exceeded all expectations all week by using an imaginative short game and a putter that saved strokes for him time and time again.

    On top of that, he showed poise and class the entire trip. After being controversially penalized for slow play Friday afternoon, Guan took responsibility and did not play victim.

    Guan might not have won the green jacket—although the bowl for winning low amateur is quite the prize—and he will need to pick up that pace in the future, but he did win the admiration and respect of all who watched.

1. Adam Scott and Australia: Masters Champions at Last

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    This time, he did not have to sit on the lead.

    It took two extra holes to finish, but Adam Scott has won his first major on the back of some clutch putting on the second nine.

    After coming so close last July at the Open Championship, Scott played four rounds of steady golf, keeping himself in the hunt the entire time without having to think about how to close it out until he actually did.

    Australia loves their golf, and, before Sunday, the Masters was the one major the country had never claimed.

    The entire nation jumped in the air and looked into the rainy Georgia sky as Adam Scott became the 2013 Masters champion.  

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