PRIDE OF SOUTH AFRICA: Trevor Immelman held his nerves in check on Sunday at Augusta to win the 72nd Masters Tournament. He joins his idol Gary Player as the only South Africans to don the green jacket.
If you would have asked people before the start of the tournament, most wouldn't have had Immelman even in the top three amongst South African golfers. Now, the 28-year-old has one more green jacket than Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Rory Sabbatini. And did you see his wife greenside at the end of his round? It sure must be good to be Trevor.
GRAND SLAMMED: Tiger Woods finished runner-up in this year's Masters, three strokes behind Immelman. Woods, unable to mount any momentum all week, shot even-par 72 Sunday. It is the fifth time in his career that Tiger has played the part of the bridesmaid in a major championship.
It was clear from the get-go that this wasn’t Tiger’s week. But instead of Tiger hating, we’ll take the high road and marvel at, despite not having his A-game, still managing a second place in the Masters. In the end, we will have to wait another year before we bring back the grand slam talk, although maybe we in the media should hold off on that until he wins the first leg. As should Tiger.
THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST: Fred Couples had never missed a cut in 23 career appearances at the Masters Tournament. Until this year. Couples shot 76-72 to miss out on weekend play by just one shot. He remained tied with Gary Player for the Masters record of 23 straight cuts made.
Couples’ MC was a bit surprising considering he was coming off a T-5 the previous week in Houston. The one thing about a record like this is he’ll never have a chance to set the mark by himself. Unless he manages to make the cut from 2009-2032. Odds are Player will still be playing then.
MAJOR COUCH POTATOS: Couples wasn’t the only marquee player missing the cut this past week: Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Rory Sabbatini and Steve Stricker all had the weekend off.
There were only 94 players in the field so you knew there would be some big names who would miss out. But all of the aforementioned (perhaps save Sergio) were legitimate contenders. Equally surprising were a couple of past champions who did make the cut – Ian Woosnam (1991) and Sandy Lyle (1988).
PLAYER PLAYING ON...AND ON...AND ON: Gary Player made his Masters record 51st career start at Augusta and managed to attribute himself quite nicely. The three-time champion opened in 83 and followed that with a 78.
Player finished dead last in the field among those who played 36 holes, but come on – the man is 72 years old! He’s 72. He shot 78. Incredible. And then to have his fellow countryman win the event - what a week for Player. We’ll see you again next year, Gary – 1 million more ab crunches from now.
HOKIE HEALING: Drew Weaver, the reigning British Amateur champion out of Virginia Tech, made his Masters debut, shooting 76-80 to miss the cut.
This Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of the massacre of 32 students and faculty members on the Virginia Tech campus. Weaver was disappointed in his performance but he shouldn’t be. He’s represented his school with great pride and class over the last year. The Backspin staff says a prayer for all of those affected by that tragedy, in what will surely be a difficult week.
HALL TIME GREAT: Lorena Ochoa won the Corona Championship by nine-strokes on Sunday, and in the process qualified for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame. Ochoa will have to wait to be inducted until 2012, as she must be a tour member for 10 years. .
A truly fantastic story as the 26-year-old Mexican star became the second youngest player ever to qualify for the Hall of Fame. And she accomplished the feat in her home country to boot. Unfortunately, due to some questionable scheduling by the LPGA, her Hall of Fame moment was completely overshadowed by the Masters. Truly a shame for such an amazing achievement by Ochoa.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Arnold Palmer fired the opening salvo, hitting the ceremonial first shot of the Masters into the heart of a dense fog; Rory Sabbatini won the Par 3 Content; Children ages 8-16 were allowed onto the Augusta grounds for free when accompanied by a paying patron.
Fifty years after his first Masters victory, a comedic Palmer quipped: “I hit it out of sight.”; Sabbatini continued the tradition of Par 3 champions failing to win the overall tournament as he missed the cut; That’s great that their trying to hook kids on golf early, but what about us already addicted? Where are our passes?
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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