A stunning performance from Bubba Watson stole the show at Augusta this year, but it doesn't change the fact the field is still wide open for a new star to take over the sport.
Kudos to Watson for obtaining the elusive second green jacket, but it wouldn't be a shock to look back on his performance as a flash in the pan with so many players performing at a high level and no true superstar in charge of the proceedings.
In fact, three performances stand out as noteworthy in that they may simply be the cusp of something greater sooner rather than later.
It's about time Matt Kuchar finally got over the hump.
Easily one of the sport's rising stars, Kuchar had some annual demons to exorcise at Augusta and finally did so by ending up tied for fifth with a two-under total.
Kuchar set a personal best with a 68 in Round 3, which in turn set another personal best, as he had never entered the final day at the Masters better than sixth on the leaderboard. As ESPN's Justin Ray points out, he had to quell some Sunday inefficiency, too:
Can Matt Kuchar (1 back) snap his recent Sunday slide? Last 4 tournaments, he's -17 on Saturday and +6 in final round.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 12, 2014
Mission accomplished. Kuchar has been on quite the roll as of late, almost taking home the top spot in the Shell Houston Open before Augusta. At some point this continued positive momentum will spill over, and fans will be talking about whether or not Kuchar is officially the sport's next big thing.
Don't look now, but also tied for fifth was golf's fashion king, otherwise known as Rickie Fowler.
He had the attention of the golf world the entire weekend, especially after a superb 67 in Round 3. Fowler even had fellow golfers in his corner because of his eye-popping play:
I quite like Rickie to make a run, he made 9 birdies and an eagle in practice, he'll just need to avoid the big number that always lurks.— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) April 13, 2014
The hype didn't go unfounded, to say the least:
It's a breath of fresh air to see Fowler finally play well in a tournament that had annually had his number. The 25-year-old is in a prime position to start an epic run if he can keep his play on an even keel.
Fowler wasn't the only young gun doing it big on the massive stage at Augusta.
Jordan Spieth is just 20 years old, yet he stepped to the tee at the final round of the Masters in serious contention. As Ray details, he wasn't exactly the biggest name on the course entering the tournament:
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
Spieth cooled off on Sunday thanks to an ugly 40 minutes of play but ended up just three shots back of Watson in second place. He took to Twitter to offer encouragement that it was simply a building block for his career:
Dream come true competing at Augusta! Deserving champion in @bubbawatson incredibly played. Stinging badly but it's just fuel going forward!— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) April 13, 2014
Considering Spieth almost became the youngest champion ever—which would have dethroned a guy named Tiger in the process—it's easy to pencil him in as the next big thing.
Perhaps he is. The momentum established via an uncanny amount of composure and top-tier play on such a stage is impossible to ignore, so Spieth is by far the most important name to watch for the rest of the season.