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Tour Confidential: What Is Bubba Golf, Jordan Spieth's Future, and a Masters Weekend Without Woods or Mickelson

Tiger Woods
Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated
Tiger Woods missed the Masters for the first time since 1994.

5. Six senior players made the cut at the Masters, along with 48-year-old Jose Maria Olazabal. Does this end the argument that the power brokers made Augusta National too long and too tough after the most recent design changes?

PASSOV: Well, yes. I can see that when the course is wet, the old guys will struggle with the length. Firm and fast in the sunshine this year, everybody was in the game. This was a very strange Masters, when names like Lyle and Mize make the cut -- geezers who aren't even competitive on the Champions Tour -- yet Mickelson, Garcia, Donald and a slew of others are sent packing on Friday. I thought it was great -- like Masters of the pre-lengthening era -- when guile and experience could get a Charles Coody or Gay Brewer through, long past their competitive primes.

BAMBERGER: It doesn't end the argument at all, because by making the course so long and, in places, so tight, it robbed the fun factor. That's the problem -- the course just isn't as fun.

VAN SICKLE: The course played firm and fast this week despite Monday's downpour. That allowed the shorter hitters, including the seniors, to show their skills. The firmer the greens, the more the local knowledge and shotmaking skills of the seniors gives them an edge. Make the course long, wet and soft and I'm not betting on Larry Mize.

SENS: Not to mention 51-year-old Jeff Knox, who played as a marker with Rory on Saturday and shot 71. Experience will always play a huge role at Augusta. But given how many first-timers were in contention this week, shouldn't the question be, Does this end the argument that experience is less important than young nerves and outrageous length?

GODICH: The strong play by the senior citizens shows how significant experience is at the Masters. It also speaks to what a special place Augusta National is. Age doesn't matter; these guys get inspired when they set foot on the grounds.

MORFIT: Augusta is a second-shot course. It just so happens that Bubba's second shots are always shorter than anyone else's. I'm pretty impressed with Miguel Angel Jimenez -- fourth place! Age 50! I ran into European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley out there, and you know he was impressed, too.

RITTER: We had a great mix of youth and experience on Sunday's leaderboard, and it seems like it's been that way for a while. What more do you want? I've been lucky enough to witness five Masters and I like the setup. I realize the course changes are an easy target for those who saw it (or played it) in different eras, but times change, players and equipment evolve, and Augusta National felt they had to do it, so we should accept it and move on. And by the way, if they make a bunch of changes to the course I love next year, I will be infuriated.

LYNCH: More seniors made the cut because more seniors play here, all of them with significant experience on the course. But ask the seniors who were humbled at the bottom of the leaderboard on Friday night if they think it is bogus to suggest that the course has been made too tough. 


6. Neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson played the weekend at the Masters for the first time since 1994. Did you miss them?

VAN SICKLE: Real golf fans didn't miss them. Casual golf fans -- and those who are Phil fans or Tiger fans but not really golf fans -- missed them. But look at all the heroics that began right away on Thursday. This Masters was too full of action to care who wasn't playing, although a slightly more dramatic last six holes would've made it a better TV show. Even better, we've identified one of the two players American golf needs to replace Phil and Tiger -- Jordan Spieth. Maybe Rickie Fowler's showing means he might be the other half.

MORFIT: Terribly. Tiger's absence was like a phantom limb. And then for Phil to miss the cut -- geez. Oh, well. There's always next year.

LYNCH: The vibe was very different all week. The electricity just wasn't there. This Masters provided a partial glimpse of a world to come when neither Tiger nor Phil are factors, and it wasn't pretty.

GODICH: I watch the Masters to witness great golf, creative shotmaking, wizardry on and around the greens and the occasional train wreck. We get that every year, even when Tiger and Phil aren't playing. Though the traditional back-nine Sunday duel never really materialized, I'd say the Masters delivered another fabulous show.  

SENS: Anyone who says this Masters was better without Woods and Mickelson on the weekend should see my shrink, the one I've been seeing to help me overcome my Lee Westwood problem.

PASSOV: Had Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy challenged Bubba down the stretch -- and throw my favorite, Miguel Angel Jimenez, into the mix -- and I would have missed them a little. When the final nine holes turned into a snooze-fest, I missed Tiger and Phil a lot.

RITTER: I missed Tiger right up until Thursday morning's tee times and I missed Phil right up until Saturday afternoon's tee times. But judging by the sagging TV ratings, many people felt differently.

BAMBERGER: I did, much more than I could have guessed. I missed Tiger's smoldering intensity. Phil was different, he played hard and missed a cut. It happens. But I was surprised to find I missed T. Woods.

The Tour Confidential roundtable continues Monday on our new weekly show hosted by Jessica Marksbury. Tweet her your questions @Jess_Marksbury.

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