Masters 2013 Results: Winners and Losers After Final Day at Augusta
Congratulations, Adam Scott.
The former won a sudden-death playoff against Argentina's Angel Cabrera at the 2013 Masters to capture his first-ever major championship. And by virtue of Scott's victory, the latter now has its first-ever Masters champ.
That, naturally, is a gross simplification of the drama that unfolded Sunday at Augusta National. For the heart-stopping details, you'll have to click ahead.
Winner: Old Dogs
Wherever you turned this weekend, veteran golfers—many of them former Masters champions—were hovering near the top of the leaderboard.
Bernhard Langer (55), Fred Couples (53), Steve Stricker (46) and Jim Furyk (42) all took turns in the top 10. Even Sandy Lyle (55) held his own through the first two days.
But it was 43-year-old Angel Cabrera, the '09 Augusta champ, who left the biggest mark on this weekend's proceedings.
The Argentinian shot back-to-back 69s on Friday and Saturday to earn a share of the lead heading into Sunday. He then birdied the final 18 to force a playoff with Australian Adam Scott, who is 11 years his junior.
Although Cabrera ultimately finished second, it was an impressive display of golfing savvy from a player who didn't have a single top-10 tour finish in 2012. And his iron shot off the tee during the second playoff hole was one of the better strikes you'll ever see.
Cabrera's performance, combined with Couples' early charge and Langer's stellar Sunday play, was yet another reminder that Augusta favors experience. Raw ability comes and goes, but those who understand this course will always have a chance to play it well.
Loser: Tournament Officials
Controversy hounded the tournament rules committee this week, starting with the assessment of a one-stroke delay penalty on crowd favorite 14-year-old Tianlang Guan.
The clamor hit a frenzied high one day later when officials opted not to disqualify Tiger Woods (instead assessing a two-stroke penalty) following his illegal drop on the 15th.
Both decisions were defensible, and perhaps even correct. But regardless of veracity, it's safe to say Augusta officials would've rather avoided the spotlight.
When CBS led its Saturday Masters coverage with a 10-minute conversation between Jim Nantz and Fred Ridley, chairman of the tournament's rules committee, you knew right then it'd been a messy week.
The loser behind the loser here is golf itself, which is so desperately attached to the past that it defiantly abides by the most arcane set of rules in all modern sport.
I understand why Bobby Jones had to mark his own scorecard. But Tiger Woods? At the 2013 Masters?
The whole thing reeks of obstinance.
And as long as golf clings to the sepia-toned technicalities it passes off as tradition, we're going to spend tournament after tournament debating things that have nothing to do with the ball going into the hole.
Winner: Tianlang Guan
Of the various headlines Tianlang Guan generated this week, my favorite came from the Yahoo! blog Devil Ball Golf.
It read, "Tianlang Guan settles back to earth, still playing in Masters at age 14."
By the time Guan finished on Sunday, a pretty straightforward story—14-year-old competes at flipping Masters—had taken all sorts of twists and turns.
Guan's better-than-expected play in Round 1 fueled speculation that he might actually make the cut. A controversial penalty on Day 2 nearly derailed that quest, leading to another round of chatter.
Soon, as Guan survived the cut, the story finally started circling back to where it had begun.
The Chinese prodigy wasn't playing for anything anymore. And as his tournament wound to a close, we were once again able to take stock of what we were seeing and appreciate its rarity.
Not only was the kid good, he was poised, articulate and, again, 14 years old.
Even before it was accented by controversy, Guan's story was unlike any we'd ever seen at a major tournament. Now that his Masters experience is over, the first impression still stands.
Loser: Rory McIlroy
Whatever corner Rory McIlroy turned during his second-place finish at the Valero Texas Open, he didn't round it far enough.
The 23-year-old was undone by a woeful seven-over Saturday to finish two over for the tournament—well back of the lead and well out of the spotlight.
Although the circumstances weren't as dramatic as they were during McIlroy's Sunday 80 at Augusta two years ago—which came on the heels of a four-stroke Saturday lead—the Irishman's 2013 performance was another indication that this golf course seems to get the better of him in big moments.
Afterward, McIlroy, who has now shot at least one round of 77 or higher at each of the past four Masters Tournaments, described his mental state as "frustration."
Many a golfer has expressed similar sentiments upon leaving Augusta, but for McIlroy, a world-class talent, it's become a surprisingly common one.
Winner: Marc Leishman
Australian Marc Leishman won't leave Augusta with a green jacket, but the world's 108th-ranked player did earn some serious plaudits for his performance under fire.
In the unfamiliar position of leading after Day 1, Leishman managed to play steady golf through the weekend, finishing in fourth place at five-under par.
Leishman is a fine player with a bright future, but of all the early leaders, he seemed more likely to fade than most. Instead, the 29-year-old held tough and was a factor all the way through Sunday. Expect to hear more from him in the years to come.
Loser: Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia played an excellent round on Sunday, but the sequencing was all too familiar.
After taking a Day 1 lead at six under, the famously pessimistic Spaniard essentially dismissed his chances of winning the tournament and proceeded to plummet down the leaderboard with a four-over par on Friday.
It was what we've come to expect from the one-time phenom, whose inability to close at major tournaments is as well-documented as his talent.
Garcia re-emerged with a Sunday 70 to finish three under for the tournament, but by then, the green jacket was out of reach. And when he did have a small window to make things interesting, he predictably bogeyed 18.
Yet again, Garcia was at his worst when the stakes were highest.
Winner: Thorbjorn Olesen
His first name translates to "Thunderbear."
He hails from a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark called Fureso.
The most notable thing he did in the run-up to Augusta was sustain whiplash in a car accident.
On Thursday, he shot his first-ever round at the Masters and finished with a 78.
And then, from the brink of the cut, Thorbjorn Olesen exploded. Playing in a Saturday group with Chinese sensation Tialang Guan, the 23-year-old posted a four-under 68 to draw even.
On Sunday, his unlikely charge continued with seven birdies in the first 15 holes. At one point, the telegenic Dane was within three strokes of the lead a mere 33 holes after he had nearly been cut, and he finished at four under for the tournament.
Olesen's play is not completely without precedent. He finished ninth at the 2012 British Open and 27th weeks later at the PGA Championship.
Both were excellent results for a young golfer on the rise, but neither was quite as noisy as his late move at Augusta.
Next time, I reckon we won't act so surprised.
Loser: Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods played good golf at Augusta this week.
Really, he did.
The world's No. 1 shot well all four days and might have won this tournament if not for an approach shot on the par-five 15th that hit the flagstick and deflected into a water hazard.
It's what Woods did after that monumental misfortune that lands him on this "loser" slide.
I'm sure you know the details by now.
Woods took an illegal drop that should've resulted in a two-stroke penalty. Officials missed it. Commentators missed it. Everyone missed it except for a fan who phoned in the breach.
Woods was eventually assessed the proper penalty, but not until after he signed his scorecard—which had retroactively become incorrect.
In most sports, this wouldn't be considered even remotely problematic. In golf, however, signing an inaccurate scorecard is the moral equivalent of drop-kicking Bobby Jones' corpse and has traditionally resulted in disqualification.
Woods was saved by a new provision that allows officials to use actual human logic (imagine that) when considering these types of after-the-fact score changes. In the end, tournament officials decided to dock Woods the two strokes and leave it be.
Golf purists and Tiger haters called the decision a travesty. Others accused the Masters and its corporate subsidiaries of favoritism. Everyone made lots and lots of loud noises.
None of this is explicitly Woods' fault, but it is the exact opposite of what a man rehabbing his public image would've wanted on the sport's biggest stage.
Winner: High Drama
We wondered all week when a golfer or two might finally break away from the field.
The answer came Sunday: Never.
The fourth round was as wild as the weather, with four different golfers sharing at least a share of the lead at some point during the final 18 and two competitors sinking birdies on the last hole to force a playoff.
The names weren't as big as the casual fan might have hoped: Tiger was only a bit player. Rory and Phil were long gone.
But the tension was without rival.
Too bad it had to end.
Loser: Jason Day
I admire the way Jason Day played on Sunday.
He smiled when things didn't go his way. He shrugged when they did. He didn't let the moment dictate his approach or his temperament.
It was, without question, an honorable showing.
Unfortunately, he was a bit too erratic on the back nine to capture his first major championship. And that, regardless of context, will sting.
After consecutive birdies on the 13th, 14th and 15th, Day bogeyed 16 and 17 to finish two shots off the lead.
It was the second day in a row Day struggled to close. Only this time, there would be no chance for redemption.
Winner Bar None: Adam Scott
The man best known for bogeying his final four holes at the 2012 Open Championship looked like he was headed for another Sunday letdown.
The putts wouldn't fall. The opposition wouldn't relent. Ignominy loomed in the surly Augusta skies.
How Adam Scott turned it around I'll never know.
Summoning whatever nerve he had left, the Aussie sank a titanic birdie putt on 18 to take a one-stroke lead into the clubhouse. At the time, it looked like a winning margin.
Of course it was never going to be that easy. Not for Scott. Angel Cabrera hit an equally stunning approach moments later to force a playoff.
The pair went shot-for-shot over two playoff holes. When Cabrera missed a birdie putt on 10 by mere inches, Scott had his first real opening. He sank the 11-footer—center cup.
Scott had his first major win. Australia had its first green jacket.