Ten questions coming out of Augusta
Instant Classic is the best way to describe the 2004 Masters. Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els was the showdown we've been waiting for since Tiger Woods started winning major championships. Only problem, Tiger wasn't part of the showdown.
Big picture, it doesn't seem to matter. Mickelson-Els has transcended, crossed over, become a permanent fixture in golf's time capsule. It's cool to talk Masters at the water cooler this week. Here's what you'll be hearing ...
This definitely validates the 22 previous victories, but time will tell. To this point we've thought of Mickelson in mistake-prone, star-crossed, heart-breaking terms. If this is the first of many, then the 0-for-42 will have been worth it.
Nothing. He's in the middle of a swing change. And don't even bring up Butch Harmon. Their reunion will never happen.
He was at Bethpage and he was again at Augusta. Those were two decidedly different crowds and Mickelson's previous mishaps made him the sympathetic figure at the 2002 Open and the hero come home at the Masters.
Seriously, there's a major drop off now that Mickelson shed the 500-pound gorilla. Based on the World Ranking, it's Ireland's Padraig Harrington. Colin Montgomerie has since faded from the "Best Player" category.
Judging from the sly-dog look in the eye of Will Nicholson, chairman of the competition committee, most definitely. After all the measures that were taken to preserve the integrity of Augusta National, the green jackets moved up the tees and put the pins in places where the players could get at them. The result was more eagles in the final round than all of last year, including two aces at 16 and a hole-out at 11 by K.J. Choi.
If he can stay committed, on to bigger and better things. He's just starting to feel the rhythm of life from the fairway, and with all that talent, scoring ability and closing power, the transformed Mickelson looked like he could do this again and again. Let's see. Now that he's got a taste, will he want more?
Probably. There's always more pressure going eyeball-to-eyeball. But that's part of the fate that was involved for Mickelson. Like Chris DiMarco's ball ending up in his line on the 72nd hole after two bunker shots. This one was cosmic, written in the stars, acted out by the stars.
Too much double standard involving Tiger as it relates to criticism. But he sure didn't do himself any favors by coming into the press center after shooting 66 on Sunday at Augusta and playing the role of bitter man.
Without a doubt, but the six-time champ deserves a pass. He just missed the cut by two strokes despite ranking 21st in GIR. It was a case of a frustrated man coming off the golf course in a foul mood, not a jealous icon trying to grab a piece of the spotlight.
He made birdie. "I've worn the jacket some places I probably shouldn't have," he told Leno. "Amy and I took it to bed with us Sunday night. You couldn't pry it off."
Tim Rosaforte is a senior writer for Golf World magazine
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