Bubba Watson claimed his second green jacket in three years last week and reminded us of a couple of things. First, golf is bigger than Tiger Woods. Second, the next Tiger Woods is nowhere to be found.
The Masters was as captivating as ever. Magnolia Lane, azaleas and Amen Corner will never go out of style, and golf will forever take center stage each April in Georgia. Masters Sunday is one of the best days on the sports calendar every year without fail.
Bubba Watson, the man with a pink driver and a grand total of zero golf lessons, took on Augusta National and left with $1.6 million and another green jacket. In a weekend with an injured Tiger Woods, an absent Phil Mickelson (literally, he got cut) and a stumbling Rory Mcllroy, Watson carried off his son from the 18th green a champion.
The second nine was must-see television, even though we all knew the way the tournament would end. Watson’s main competition was 20-year-old phenom Jordan Spieth. The former UT Longhorn showed the world he would be a force in golf for 20 years, while also reminding us how truly great Tiger Woods was.
After Mcllroy won his second major championship, the “next Tiger” label was thrust upon him before he turned 23. However, he hasn’t won a single tournament of any kind since 2012, leading fans to ask, what is wrong with Rory?
The answer is simple. Nothing is wrong with Rory. He is an extremely talented young golfer. He just isn’t Tiger Woods. Nobody is Tiger Woods. Tiger was the next Jack Nicklaus, who is more than 30 years older than Woods. The fact is that the “next Tiger” is wandering around in his diapers right now dragging a little plastic golf club.
Young Mr. Spieth birdied the sixth and seventh holes Sunday at the Masters to take the lead, making everyone wonder if they were watching the next great golfer coming-of-age story. Bogey on eight. Bogey on nine. Reality was setting in on the 20-year-old golfer from Dallas. In 20 minutes, Spieth’s two shot lead was gone and Watson was running away with the Masters.
Spieth is going to have a wonderful career. He could go on to win several major championships, but he is not the next Tiger, because a 20-year-old Tiger has that tournament on ice by the end of Amen Corner. We need to stop looking for someone to go and win 12 majors in eight years. We need to stop looking for someone that can win the Masters by 12 strokes and the U.S. Open by 15. When grown men saw Tiger Woods in red with a lead, they cowered in fear.
Woods buried his competition like nobody in the history of golf. Injuries, personal problems and age have made Woods a shell of his former self. But in his prime, Woods left the best golfers in the world feeling helpless.
Adam Scott, the man many feel is the best golfer in the world, will have won four out of 10 tournaments and enters Sunday with a lead. Tiger Woods is 11-for-11 in major championships with the 54-hole lead. Woods is the greatest frontrunner in the history of sports.
The 2014 Masters will always stick in my mind for two reasons. First, it was the weekend Bubba Watson picked up his son on the 18th green fighting back tears after victory. Second, it was the weekend I realized the next Tiger Woods is nowhere to be found, and we would all enjoy the game more if we quit looking.