10 Things I Learned From the 2010 Masters

Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s post-Masters Monday, which usually brings about lots of excitement, and well, a little bit of a golf hangover. Sunday at the Masters is usually the greatest day of the year for golf fans, so forgive us if we’re a little bit out of it today as we think back to how great of a tournament this was. The weekend that Phil Mickelson had was nothing short of spectacular, and his third green jacket was on that he certainly earned.

Here’s 10 things that I take away from this year’s installment of the Masters:

1. Phil Mickelson is going to have a much better season than Tiger Woods

And not just because Lefty won this particular tournament, and is already one up in terms of majors this season. But because I really think that this was all that Phil needed to get his season heading in the right direction. When we all learned that Tiger would be out of golf for the first part of this season, I immediately jumped on the Phil bandwagon, and declared him the 2010 PGA Tour Player of the Year. I was starting to wonder about him before the Masters, but now, he looks as confident as ever, and he might make this one of his best seasons yet. As for Tiger, while there was clearly rust, he still finished T4. The problem is, we don’t really know when we’ll see Tiger play again, so Phil has the chance to make 2010 his year.

2. This may be the most confident we’ve ever seen Anthony Kim

After a win last week at the Shell Houston Open, I thought that Kim would come into the Masters with some confidence. I was wrong though. He came into the Masters with a ton of confidence. AK had another one of his memorable Augusta rounds, shooting a 65 on Sunday to earn him a third place finish in this year’s event. Kim had talked about having thumb surgery after the Masters, but with the way he’s playing right now, I hope he can put it off for a while. Because if he does, he’s got his best shot at a major championship coming up at either Pebble Beach or Whistling Straits.

3. Lee Westwood is easily the best player in the world without a major

You could make the argument for a few other players before this past week, but I don’t think that there’s any doubt now. He didn’t lose this tournament, Phil won it. Yes, he held the lead entering the final round, but he couldn’t have anticipated the kind of day that we would see. It is simply hard to believe that Westwood has yet to capture a win at a major, especially considering just how close he’s been in recent years. Here’s a look at his recent finishes at major championships:

2008 U.S. Open: 3rd
2009 British Open: T3
2009 PGA Championship: T3

And now he can add a second place finish at the 2010 Masters to the list. There’s a reason why this guy is always a popular pick every time a big tournament rolls around. But you can bet that Westwood would like to eventually be the one with all the glory on Sunday. And he’d probably like that to happen very soon.

4. K.J. Choi is a very, very calm man

How else do you explain the fact that Choi played with Tiger all four days, and managed to shoot the same score as him (11-under par) for a T4 finish? We saw how playing with the world’s best player affected Matt Kuchar the first few days (finished even par for the tournament), but Choi never allowed the surroundings get to him. Now granted, Choi is a veteran and has faced similar situations before. But to be paired with Tiger given the circumstances surrounding this week, and to even grab a share of the lead at one point on Sunday, is just amazing. I’ve got plenty of respect for this guy after this tournament, and hope to see him in contention at another major this season.

5. Amazing players play amazingly bad at majors sometimes

Just take a look at the stellar list of players that missed the cut this week:

Jim Furyk +12
Stewart Cink +8
Padraig Harrington +5
Paul Casey +9
Henrik Stenson +11
Vijay Singh +10
Ross Fisher +9
Rory McIlroy +7
Justin Leonard +6
Martin Kaymer +5
Luke Donald +5
Ryo Ishikawa +4

Furyk and Harrington were heavy favorites entering the week, which shows that golf can be pretty confusing at times.

6. Freddie Couples can still win PGA Tour tournaments

Now that Couples has made the transition to the Champions Tour, you don’t get to see him all that much on a regular basis. However, after his play this week at Augusta, one thing is for certain: he’s the best player on the senior circuit, and would still be one of the best players on the PGA Tour if he played there full-time. It was smart move by him though because of the back trouble, but at least this week has proved to him that he can still compete and be in contention with the big boys in golf. If recent history is any indication, we’ll probably see him battling for another major in the near future.

7. Tom Watson’s still got it

I started getting heavily into golf writing last year after Watson’s performance at Turnberry, because I wanted to try and put into words what I had just witnessed. Needless to say, it was impossible, but it’s memories like those that make everyone realize just how great it is to be a golf fan. Watson tinkered with giving us some more major memories for a day or so this week, before finally settling for a 1-under par finish. Still though, over the last several years, we’ve seen memorable performances by older players (Couples and Watson in their aforementioned tournaments, plus Greg Norman at Royal Birkdale in ’08), and I hope it’s a trend that continues. As they say, and is being made evident by these men, golf is certainly a game for a lifetime.

8. Nick Watney is going to win a major championship within the next two years

If you want to talk about a guy that has a bright future ahead of him, look no further than this man. I hyped up Watney all week entering the tournament, and he made me look pretty good with his seventh place finish. Watney embraced his inner Anthony Kim on Sunday, shooting a 65, and there’s no doubt that he could have shot 62 or 63 had he not missed a few putts that were not all that difficult. Like AK, his confidence is riding high right now, and although he may not be a factor in every tournament he plays in, his game is too good for him to not win a big tournament soon. Let me just go ahead and throw it out there right now: Nick Watney wins the 2011 Masters.

9. The one-handed follow through is usually a sign that you’ve just hit a horrendous tee shot

I kept mentioning to a friend that I had never seen so many great players follow through their swing, and end up with only one hand on the club after impact. We see it every now and then, but there was plenty of it on display this week. We saw Tiger do it multiple times. Westwood did it. Ian Poulter did it. And well, with the exception of maybe once or twice, the shots were pretty terrible off the tee. Let’s face it though, driving at Augusta isn’t the easiest thing in the world, so I’d say that we could let the players slide this week. And after all, their one-handed follow through is better than my best golf swing any day of the week. So while we already knew that two hands all the way through was the way to go, it makes me feel a little better about myself when I accidentally lose grip of the club on my swing.

10. Augusta is as cruel as it’s ever been

Luckily for Phil, he still managed to win the tournament. Just think about how much we’d be talking about this if he had lost by a stroke.

Tags: 2010 Majors Anthony Kim Bad Golf Swing Champions Tour Fred Couples Golf Ian Poulter K.J. Choi Lee Westwood Masters Nick Watney PGA Phil Mickelson Things I Learned From Masters Tiger Woods Tom Watson

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