6 Things We Learned from 2014 Masters Tournament
The 78th Masters Tournament is in the books, and Bubba Watson is wearing his second green jacket.
The Azaleas and Dogwoods were in full bloom, and Augusta National never looked so pristine.
Six continuous days of warm sunny weather made the course firm and fast, which made scoring difficult.
We learned that just like death and taxes, the Masters is always a sure thing.
6. Augusta National Is Always Impressive
Even though the severe ice storms that hit Georgia just 60 days ago created havoc with Augusta National, the course could not have looked better.
The flowers were in full bloom, and the pictures beamed into living rooms around the world portrayed the color and beauty of the golf course.
Six days of warm sunny conditions left the course firm and fast. Given the undulation and speed of the greens, putting was an adventure.
Augusta National lived up to its status as one of the most difficult and beautiful golf courses in the world.
We learned that the course is always the top storyline at the Masters.
5. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson Aren't Needed
Tiger Woods was forced to withdraw from the Masters, and Phil Mickelson did not make the cut to play on the weekend.
Woods will be out of action for a few months due to back surgery, and Mickelson has not finished inside the top 10 in a PGA Tour event this year.
This was the first Masters Tournament in over 20 years that neither Woods nor Mickelson was in the field on the weekend.
Even though two of the game's biggest stars weren't in attendance, Bubba Watson and the kid, Jordan Spieth, put on a pretty good show.
We learned that we don't need Tiger and Phil to have an exciting golf tournament.
4. Rory McIlroy Is Improving but Not Quite Back Yet
As is his custom of late, Rory McIlroy posted three good rounds at the Masters this week, but a second-round five-over 77 dropped him out of contention.
He battled back with 71-69 on the weekend to finish at even par for the tournament and tied for eighth.
It was his fourth top-10 finish this season in just six starts, but he has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2012 BMW Championship.
McIlroy did win the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne over Adam Scott last December, and golf fans hoped that would be a sign for a strong 2014 campaign.
We learned he is playing much better but not quite good enough to find the winner's circle just yet.
3. Experience Is Important at Augusta National
Playing in his 15th Masters, 50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez finished fourth for his best finish ever.
Evidently, course knowledge and experience does pay dividends at Augusta National, as a few other cagey veterans finished high up on the leaderboard.
Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer and Thomas Bjorn finished tied for eighth.
The ageless Fred Couples posted 71-71 and at two under par was among the leaders after 36 holes. Two rounds of 73-75 on the weekend moved him down the leaderboard to finish T-20.
Part-timer Steve Stricker finished T-31, and K.J. Choi was T-34. Another 50-something Vijay Singh was T-37.
Former Masters champions Sandy Lyle and Mike Weir tied for 44th along with a former Open champion Darren Clarke.
These veterans taught us that experience is one of the most important factors at Augusta National.
2. Jordan Spieth Is for Real
Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth cannot legally buy alcohol or rent a car, but he can sure play golf with the big boys.
He is not experiencing any sophomore slump after his brilliant 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year season.
He has five top-10 finishes including two runners-up in 2014 and has won $2.6 million.
He held a two-stroke lead in the final round until bogeys at Nos. 8, 9 and 12 on Sunday proved to be his undoing.
We learned that Jordan Spieth is very close to winning his first major championship.
1. Bubba Watson Knows How to Win at Augusta
The king is dead, long live the king.
Bubba Watson proved he is one of the elite golfers in the world with his second Masters victory in three years.
Watching Adam Scott help Watson slip on his green jacket, one is reminded of Sam Snead and Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and even Mickelson and Woods in past Masters ceremonies.
Are we viewing the future of a Scott-Watson rivalry at Augusta with a little Jordan Spieth thrown in for good measure?
Mickelson and Woods were home watching from their couches while the stars of today were center stage.
We learned the times and stars are changing and that maybe new rivalries have been born.