The biggest story from the 2014 Masters is how free of drama the final round turned out to be. Jordan Spieth challenged Bubba Watson early on Sunday, but the 20-year-old made some mistakes on the back nine that allowed Watson to become a two-time winner at Augusta.
Even though the first major of this year didn't have the 18th-hole drama we all hope to see, there were plenty of brilliant performances throughout the weekend that deserve to be mentioned and talked about.
Winning at the Masters is important, without question, but there are players who have used a great performance here as a catalyst for success elsewhere. Rory McIlroy became a star at this event, for better and worse, in 2011, but he got his first major at the U.S. Open two months later.
So as we put a final bow on this year's Masters tournament, here's a look at the leaderboard and the performances that stood out the most.
|Final 2014 Masters Leaderboard|
|4||Miguel Angel Jimenez||-4|
*Full leaderboard can be found at Masters.com
Top Performance: Bubba Watson
If you want to talk about the best performances at the 2014 Masters, it only makes sense to start with the player who won the event.
The brilliance of Watson's performance this weekend is the way he didn't try to do anything fancy, as Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post noted, but was so effective at what needed to be done.
Bubba, grinding out pars on the back nine. That was a Sunday at the Masters, right? http://t.co/omklNPAzvU— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) April 14, 2014
Watson also showed the ability to put a bad performance behind him. The left-hander shot a two-over par 74 on Saturday, falling into a tie with Spieth for the lead heading into Sunday and opening up the field for everyone else under par.
Instead of carrying that poor effort with him, Watson bounced back with his third-round shooting under 70 on Sunday to secure his second green jacket.
Naturally, Watson used his moment in the sun to celebrate in style by having dinner at a Waffle House.
How do you not love Watson?
Star-Making Performance: Jordan Spieth
Imagine what you were doing at the age of 20, then realize that Spieth was stepping up to the first tee on Sunday at the Masters tied for the lead.
As great as the story of Spieth winning would have been, his back was up against the wall fighting history, as pointed out by ESPN Stats and Info on Twitter.
Can Jordan Spieth add his name to this list tomorrow? pic.twitter.com/1dTvPDItpV— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 12, 2014
Spieth's youth started to show as the final round moved on, bogeying the par-three 12th hole by hitting a shot into the water. and never having an answer for Watson.
Despite the even-par 72 in his final round, Spieth became the focal point of this year's Masters. He wasn't even on the PGA Tour radar when the season started. ESPN's Justin Ray noted Spieth's world ranking entering Sunday.
When the '13 season started, @JordanSpieth was outside the top-800 in the world & without status on any tour.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 12, 2014
Now the world knows who Spieth is, and boasting all the talent in the world, don't be surprised if there is a major coming his way later this year. He didn't have that one great round to get over the top, but a 20-year-old who shoots 71-70-70-72 speaks volumes.
Most Surprising Performance: Fred Couples
With the exception of Spieth, there wasn't one player fans were rooting for more than Fred Couples. The 54-year-old veteran was flirting with his second victory at Augusta, entering Sunday four strokes back at one-under par.
If you are looking for history repeating itself, Jack Nicklaus won his final major at the 1986 Masters by coming back from four strokes down on Sunday.
Unfortunately, Couples didn't have the Golden Bear's magic. After shooting a one-over-par 73 on Saturday, the wily veteran shot a 75 on Sunday. His final round started out fantastic with consecutive birdies, but a five-over-par 41 on the back nine led to a disappointing finish.
Still, considering his age, Couples made a bold statement this weekend. Youth might be the name of the game in this era of golf, but every once in a while there's room for a legend to show that he can still compete with the young guns.
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