"A great shot is when you pull it off. A smart shot is when you don't have the guts to try it."
—Phil Mickelson recounting his second shot at 13
With the 74th Masters in the record books, these day-after thoughts and observations follow:
The defining holes of Phil Mickelson's Masters victory started at 9 and 10, when he recovered from horrible drives to salvage pars. He was still shaky at 11, managed another par then settled down, hit a great shot at 12, and holed a 20-footer to take the lead.
His shot of the day came at 13. He had 207 to the hole, his ball sitting precariously on pine straw between two trees. He pulled a six-iron from his bag and simply told caddie Jim MacKay, "If I trust my swing, I'll pull it off." He did and hit a perfect shot. It only carries Rae's Creek by a few yards but stopped four feet from the hole. Although he missed the eagle putt, it still put him in position to win, he began to forge a margin that he would take the the final hole.
Gutsy play and solid play at 15 through 18.
Tiger Woods hasn't changed one lick. You could tell he had no desire to talk to Peter Kostis after his round. He's now sulking again and giving the impression he won't play anytime soon. "I'll take a little time off and re-evaluate things," he said. Woods managed to play well at times and that comes from his total understanding of the golf course, a must at Augusta National. He putted well until his ice hockey display at 14 Sunday. Other than that, he ranged from spectacular and horrible. No consistency.
Mateo Manassero , the Italian amateur, was a big hit. Incredible performance for a 16-year-old, and now there are whispers that he could be Europe's best since Seve Ballesteros. His 3-over total for the tournament showed he's ready to turn pro, which he will in three weeks.
Lee Westwood wasn't sulking or hanging his head after his runner-up finish. "I just need to continue doing what I'm doing. I've finished third, third, and second in the last three majors."
"He's an incredible talent and a quality individual. I hope his major comes soon," Mickelson said of Westwood.
Anthony Kim got scorching hot for a four-hole stretch Sunday, holes 13 through 16 and went birdie, biridie, eagle, birdie. He stood on 13 tee, 7-under. He was 12-under when he got to 17.
His closing 65 and third place finish, should give him a huge confidence boost going into the three remaining majors.
K.J. Choi was the steadiest of everyone until he finally made a mistake at 13, going over the green and paying for it with a bogey then another at 14. Up until that point, he looked like he had a real shot at victory.
Jim MacKay , Mickelson's long-time caddie had some great observations:
"It's Phil's playground (Augusta). That shot at 13, he just said, 'it's a six-iron, let me execute here."
On the continued relationship with teacher Butch Harmon: "The Butch Harmon relationship is getting better and better."
And finally, this observation by "Bones" on who Phil Mickelson is:
"He is exactly as he seems—generous and caring."
Freddie Couples was a great addition to the contenders. It was truly ironic that he bowed out of contention when his tee shot at 12 hit on the fringe and rolled back into the water. In 1992, the year he won, the same shot was stopped by a fringe cut that was later shaved and remains so today.
This Masters will be remembered for the thrilling shots seen on Saturday and Sunday, and the drama of the back nine. By Sunday, the golf took over as the story with Tiger's return overtaken by the players who finished ahead of him.
This Tiger Woods saga is sure to carry over into the rest of the season as Woods showed brilliance at certain moments, at others, he appeared to be the troubled human that one might anticipate after the events of the past five months.
Whatever lies in store the rest of this golf season, the other majors will have a difficult time competing with the events of this 74th playing of the Masters.