AUGUSTA, Ga. First, a disclaimer: It is not in my nature to speak ill of the Masters. I’d just about as soon criticize a sunset. But let’s face it: By the time the third stage of the Masters had rounded the turn Saturday, this conclusion could be drawn – this tournament is in bad need of a hero.
Unfortunately, many of the prospects had gone home, swept aside by the 36-hole cut. Tiger Woods, the most heroic of them all, stayed home for back surgery. Phil Mickelson wrecked on three holes and planned to watch Saturday’s telecast “as my punishment.”
Ernie Els, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley were also among the trunk slammers.
Thus we found a Saturday leader board that was a testimony to the parity that has crawled over the game like kudzu.
Parity is boring. It allows somebody to finish in the top five three or four times and become a star, and there’s a different winner every week.
This is not what you want at the Masters, where so many people have done so many memorable things over the years. Reality, no. Magic, yes.
The day was not without some highlights, though, foremost being the play of 20-year-old Jordan Spieth. He shot his third straight sub-par round, a 70, to share the lead with Bubba Watson heading into the final round. He might be that hero we’re looking for, but he’ll have to endure the heat of Sunday at Augusta. I would be surprised if he didn’t hold up. Maybe not win but contend. We may be seeing the start of a great career. He’s that good.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, he of the bushy ponytail and the warmup sequence that so amuses some that it has been set to music on a video, shot 66. Ricky Fowler, he of the rainbow wardrobe, shot 67. Both muscled their way onto the leaderboard. Matt Kuchar, he of the constant smile, fired a 68 and shouldered his way up.
In defense of those who failed to dazzle, the golf course – especially the greens – was just plain ill-mannered.
Brandt Snedeker five-putted the fourth hole. I doubt all of it was his fault.
Lee Westwood kinda summed up the Augusta National they faced Saturday when he said a while back, “It asks questions for which there is no answer.”
In Snedeker’s case, he might heed the advice of Rich Beem: “Sometimes you just have to giggle.”
Ron Green Sr. is a retired Observer sports columnist.
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