Masters 2014: Biggest Winners and Losers
After four days of phenomenal golf on the lawns of Augusta, we finally have a winner. For the second time in three years, Bubba Watson is the Masters champion.
The four days of golf at the Masters this year were filled with jaw-dropping shots, terrible misses and plenty of surprises. Plenty of major winners failed to make the cut, including Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. The odds-on favorites struggled, while first-timers made the lawns of Augusta look tame.
With the first golf major of 2014 in the books, here's a look at the highs and lows from Augusta National.
Winner: Bubba Watson
Meet Bubba Watson, the owner of two green jackets.
Watson had a spectacular four days, never once letting the ups and downs of the Augusta course get to him. His long drives made the length of the Masters fairways a complete non-factor, and his ability to stay cool got him out of trouble time and time again.
Watson had finished second or better at three events in 2014, and came into the Masters as the 12th-ranked golfer in the world. His first round of 69 and second round of 68 had him leading the field by three strokes heading into the weekend. The 2012 champion shot a 74 on Saturday, but didn't let that rattle him.
The 35-year-old from Florida might be a controversial figure, but it sure is fun to watch him dominate the hallowed lawns of Augusta.
Loser: Phil Mickelson
This was not at all the week that Phil Mickelson was hoping for in Augusta.
The three-time Masters champion missed the cut for the first time in his last 17 appearances. He shot a 76 and a 73, and was sent packing on Friday at five-over par. The five-time major winner hit three bogeys, one double bogey, two triple bogeys and six birdies in two rounds.
Mickelson blamed his subpar performance on a lack of preparation, per ESPN.com's Bob Harig:
What I've been nervous about is having a hole like 7 yesterday, a hole like 12 today, where I go along, making pars, putting the ball in the right spot and you just get a bad situation. And I end up letting instead of one sliding, two or three are going away. That's the kind of stuff when you're playing tournament golf and you're mentally sharp you don't do. And that's the kind of stuff I seem to be doing right now.
Winner: Jordan Spieth
Yes, Jordan Spieth didn't win a green jacket on Sunday to become the youngest champion in Masters history. Sure, he had a few moments on the golf course on Sunday that made him look like the 20-year-old that he is. But it's still hard to walk away from this week at Augusta without being incredibly impressed with him.
Spieth took to the Augusta course like a seasoned veteran, shooting five-under par to finish in a tie with Jonas Blixt for second place. As Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg notes, "He played smarter and more patiently than more experienced players." He had plenty of highlights, including his holed-out shot from the bunker on the fourth on the final day of the tournament.
This time last year, Spieth was watching the Masters from his couch. This year, he was contending on the final nine. Such a meteoric rise at so young an age affirms that the sky is the limit for him.
And if his play during the 2014 Masters is any indication, there are plenty of great things to come from last year's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
Loser: The Defending Champion
Adam Scott came into the week with a chance to be just the fourth golfer in history to retain the green jacket, and after his 69 on Thursday, he looked intent on defending his Masters crown. But Scott soon found out just why so few had accomplished that goal at the Masters.
Scott scored a 72 on Friday and Sunday and a 76 on Saturday, finishing the weekend at one-over par. The Aussie ended up in a tie for 14th, his worst finish at the Masters in four years.
The 33-year-old had to pass the green jacket back to Bubba Watson, and now he has to wait and see if and when his second major championship will come.
Winner: The Greens
Bubba Watson walked away from the Masters with another green jacket, but the greens of Augusta are holding onto their title as the stars of the show.
Putting was the story of this championship. "It was crazy, crazy fast out there," Jordan Spieth told Teddy Greenstein and Dan Wiederer of the Los Angeles Times. "I've never putted on greens like this." Ian Poulter tweeted that it was like "putting on glass." Brandt Snedeker had an insane five-putt on Saturday.
Watson left plenty of putts short and had a few rare three-putts, but he was able to stave off any major disasters, which is why he walked away with the title.
Loser: Drama on the Final Day
This week at the Masters was high on intrigue and characters, but lacked star power and back-nine drama.
Coming into the final round, there were nine players within three strokes of each other at the top of the leaderboard, which seemed to set up the tournament for an incredibly dramatic Sunday. But unfortunately, the rest of the field stumbled just enough to let Watson seemingly run away with it. The tournament really swung on holes eight and nine, where Watson picked up two birdies and Spieth notched two bogeys. Nobody really made Bubba sweat after that.
After last year's thrilling playoff between Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera, this year's final round seemed like a carousel as opposed to a roller coaster.
Winner: Rickie Fowler's Sunday Attire
Everyone needs a little color in their lives, and this weekend at the Masters, Rickie Fowler provided that in more ways than one.
Fowler is always known for his eccentric attire, and he did not disappoint throughout the week, but especially on Sunday. His bright orange polo shirt and hat combined with his plaid pants set him up as one to watch. Of course, it helped that Fowler was playing great golf as well.
The 25-year-old hit a 67 on Saturday, one of the best rounds of the tournament, and he finished the tournament tied for fifth, by far his best-ever finish at the Masters. Plus, he spiced up the stuffy grounds of Augusta along the way. Not a bad weekend.
Loser: Former Top-Ranked Golfers
It was not a good week for any active players who have been ranked No. 1. Tiger Woods, the current No. 1, had to withdraw from the Masters due to his persistent back injury, but that wasn't all.
Two other former No. 1s, Ernie Els and Luke Donald, failed to make the cut. Rory McIlroy, who was the favorite coming into the event, struggled mightily on Friday and barely made the cut. He went on to have a solid weekend and ended up at even par, but he was never in contention.
Meanwhile, former top dogs Fred Couples, Lee Westwood and Vijay Singh all made it to the weekend, but only Westwood finished under par.
Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Jason Day all came into Augusta with a shot at taking over the No. 1 ranking from Tiger, but none of them were able to do so.
Winner: Masters Rookies
Jordan Spieth wasn't the only first-timer who impressed at the Masters this year. The rookie class—which at 24 was the largest in Masters history—put on quite a show at Augusta.
Jonas Blixt, the 29-year-old from Sweden, looked like he knew the course inside and out throughout the four rounds. He shot under par every round, and ended up tied for second with Spieth, so close to the green jacket he could taste it.
A pair of older rookies, 35-year-old Jimmy Walker and 34-year-old Kevin Stadler, also made quite the statement and finished in the top 10. Walker bookended his four rounds with scores of 70 to help him finish at two-under par, while Stadler didn't score higher than one-over par in all four rounds.
A rookie still has never won the green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, but this group nearly pulled off the feat.
Loser: Freddie Couples on the Weekend
This is becoming an unfortunate trend for Fred Couples. Once again, the 54-year-old played great the first two days. He was at two under par going into the weekend and giving himself a shot to become the oldest champion in Masters history.
But once again, he failed to put a scare into the leaders during the final two rounds. Couples shot a 73 and 75 on Saturday and Sunday, putting him at two-over par for the championship and leaving him stuck in a tie for 20th.
Couples was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last year, and won the Masters back in 1992. He had finished in the top 15 of the Masters for the previous four years, with his best recent showing being a sixth-place finish in 2010. It's certainly impressive for a man of his age to be playing so well on the main tour when he could be focused on the seniors tour, but it's disappointing that he can't play his best on the weekend.
Winner: Father and Son
Craig Stadler didn't make the cut at the Masters this year, but the 60-year-old still made history.
Craig didn't want to hang up his hat at the Masters until his son Kevin could play with him, and so the 1982 champion waited and waited. This year, his 34-year-old son Kevin finally qualified for his first Masters, and the duo became the first father and son to ever play in the same Masters.
Kevin thoroughly outplayed his father, making the cut and finishing even par and tied for eighth place. But together, they carved out a place in the record books.
Loser: The Danish Bet
Coming into the tournament, 27-year-old Rob Price made headlines when he put €1,200 on Rory McIlroy to win the tournament just because he thought he saw McIlroy's face in his morning danish.
As ridiculous as Price's bet was, he wasn't alone in thinking that McIlroy would be walking away with the green jacket on Sunday. McIlroy was the favorite, along with Adam Scott, according to the oddsmakers.
But no sport is as hard to predict as golf—the sport has had more random major winners in the past decade than any other. While Watson and Spieth were both in the conversation heading into this tournament, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought Jonas Blixt and Miguel Angel Jimenez would finish this Masters in the top 5.
Price lost a lot of money on his danish bet, but plenty of others felt silly about their picks at the end of the weekend. That's why they play the game.