3. Jordan Spieth made a serious bid to become the youngest-ever Masters champ and the first first-timer to win at Augusta since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 before falling to Watson in the final. What makes Spieth a special player and what do you think he learns from this week?
VAN SICKLE: Spieth now knows he can win a Masters, definitively, or any other major. That's knows, not thinks. He'll realize he let his emotions get in the way on the final nine when he studies the replay, which he will. He will be America's next great player.
LYNCH: Having the 54-hole lead and almost winning the Masters is invaluable experience to acquire at age 20, and Spieth seems well equipped to contend on any major stage going forward. But his emotional reactions to poor shots laid bare the tedious cliche repeated ad nauseam by the TV announcers that he has an old head on young shoulders. His youth and inexperience was evident. It's understandable. When he surmounts that, he might have the brightest future in the game.
BAMBERGER: Spieth is as hungry as any young player since Tiger Woods. He's trying to prove it all in every swing he takes. He'll learn this week that the march to 280 is a marathon, not a 5K.
GODICH: He's fearless. He didn't lose that tournament. Bubba won it. It would have been easy for Spieth to fold his tent after the four-shot swing at 8 and 9, but he kept grinding. And on a day when he didn't have his A-game, he shot 72 while playing in the last group on Sunday at Augusta National. He drives down Magnolia Lane with a ton of confidence. Now he needs to build on the momentum and validate the week with a second career victory.
RITTER: When I watch Spieth play golf or listen to him in the interview room, I forget that he's only 20, so I'll say it's his maturity. He has the talent and attitude to thrive on Tour, and he'll learn a lot from Sunday's tough stretch of holes around the turn that cost him this tournament. He'll get his first major soon -- maybe as soon as Pinehurst.
PASSOV: A combination of execution and attitude makes Spieth special. He has unusual maturity, yet you can tell from the club-slam at 10, the eye rolls, the one-handed and no-handed finishes, that he's a fiery, passionate competitor. He'll revisit that suspect decision to aim at the flag at 12, but he got up and down for bogey, so it didn't crush him. He takes away that he finished second at the Masters, which means he can compete with anyone on any stage in golf.
MORFIT: He's really mature for 20, and he's almost nerveless, the key word being "almost." I think he knew he was in the lead -- he said he wasn't looking at leaderboards until late in the back nine -- and got a little spooked. He blew his second shot way right on 8, which tells you he was doing everything he could not to wind up in the trees left of that hole (jail). But the aggressive play is to keep your foot on the gas and hook it in there. And we all saw what happened after that. He'll learn everything from this, because Spieth is a fast, fast learner. His golf IQ is Tiger-esque. I expect him to be in the mix again at Pinehurst.
LYNCH: Scott. He made a statement on Thursday but then faded away with barely a whimper.
VAN SICKLE: Mickelson was disappointing because he botched so many short-game shots. That's supposed to be his specialty. It is his specialty. That was mind-boggling. And that swish you heard was Phil moving on to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
GODICH: Dustin Johnson. He's turning 30 in June. He's got too much talent to not win a major, and if we're still asking this question in a couple of years, DJ is going to start drawing comparisons to Lee Westwood.
PASSOV: Dustin has a lousy Masters record, so this week wasn't a surprise -- I just can't figure out why he stinks at Augusta. I expected more from Mickelson, simply on faith, since he wasn't playing well coming in. Yet, he only missed the cut by one, and as Rory showed, you can crash the top 10 even making the cut right on the number. Phil could have easily done the same if he had been given the chance. Rory didn't click early, making his role as Vegas favorite sort of a joke, yet at the end, how can you fault a guy for a top-10 finish in a major? Adam Scott disappointed me most. He got off to a fast start, then inexplicably stalled. To me, he's the man right now, and his repeated front-nine failures at Augusta this week were head-scratching.
SENS: Not Dustin Johnson, because did you really expect him to win this thing? And not Adam Scott, because how many players defend at Augusta? Going strictly by the numbers, McIlroy gets the nod because he was favored to win. On a more personal level, though, the biggest downer was Westwood, because I bet a friend that the Englishman would finally get off the schneid. I'm like a pitiful partner in a bad relationship. I keep telling myself that this time around, it's going to be different, that the patterns can't possibly continue. Then Westwood tees it up on Sunday in contention in a major. . .and. . . sniff. . .I think I need to see a shrink.
MORFIT: I've got to go with McIlroy. I was out there watching him play Amen Corner on Sunday, and he was putting for birdie on 12 when the volunteers got the word to put his name up on the scoreboards around the course. He missed the putt, but he was 3 under on the day and had gotten back to even for the tournament. I was thinking about what might happen if he put up a 30 or so on the back nine, but after hitting a prodigious drive on the par-5 13th hole, he hit his wedge or 9-iron into the creek short of the green. The wind was gusting a little, but it was a terrible shot. He said himself that he was useless on the par-5s, and he did not putt well at all. Losing to the non-competing marker Saturday was just salt in the wound.
RITTER: Phil was by far the biggest bust of the week. Sure, he's battled injuries this year and hasn't shown much, but you had to think Augusta would bring out his best because it almost always does. This year he has more WDs (two) than top 10s (zero). I don't want to say this is the beginning of the end because Phil did just win the British Open, but after a career's worth the success at Augusta (three wins, eight top 3s, 14 top 10s) his last two results are T54, MC. He can win another jacket, but health is going to be key.
BAMBERGER: I am going to save my feelings of disappointment for others who need it more than that foursome. Ed Sneed comes to mind.