PGA Tour Confidential: Masters Extra!

Phil Mickelson
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Phil Mickelson's shot from the pine straw on 13 at the 2010 Masters is on the short list of best-ever shots at Augusta National.

Question 3: What’s the best shot you’ve ever seen at the Masters?

Anonymous Pro: Given the situation, I like the Jack Nicklaus five-iron to 16 when he won in ’86, the one that landed by the hole and almost went in. The shot, the situation, the drama, the fact that it was Jack—it’s all wrapped into one unforgettable package.

Bamberger: I’d say Tiger’s much-replayed chip-in at 16 against Chris DiMarco in 2005. I’d rate that higher than Bubba’s shot out of the pines last year. To have all the insight Tiger needed to play that shot, that’s significantly better than Bubba’s shot.

Shipnuck: Tiger’s shot was great, but it wasn’t even original. Davis Love III did the exact same thing six years earlier.

Bamberger: Was there ever a more dramatic shot than Larry Mize’s chip-in?

Shipnuck: You could say the same thing about half the shots Nicklaus hit on the back nine in ’86. Phil’s shot from the pine straw on 13 in 2010 has to be a contender. Tiger’s chip-in, any of those other shots, they weren’t in sudden-death playoffs. They weren’t do or die. If Bubba doesn’t pull off that crazy wedge shot, he doesn’t win the Masters. He had one chance and he did it. A sudden-death playoff raises the stakes.

Garrity: I didn’t see either shot, and I don’t know anybody who did, but Nicklaus made two ­eagles on number 5 in the same year [’95], a couple of days apart, on one of the course’s most difficult holes.

Question 4: What have we learned about the PGA Tour in 2013?

Shipnuck: We learned the Rory McIlroy era is going to be complicated. He’s a little more fragile than most guys who get to No. 1 in the world.

Van Sickle: You mean like the invincible Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald?

Shipnuck: Everyone has peaks and valleys. To see Rory be completely overwhelmed by life has been a little stunning. It seemed like he had it all figured out last season. We all believe in the kid’s talent. You get to the top, it’s difficult. It takes a certain personality type. He might be too sweet a guy to be No. 1. He’s gone from being a huge favorite to being a huge question mark.

Van Sickle: He’s not all golf like Tiger was. Rory is going to take the time to enjoy his life. He reminds me of Arnold Palmer a little there. He’ll be streaky great, and he’s got other interests. He’ll have a better quality of life, and if that means a couple fewer major wins in the long run, that’s all right.

Bamberger: I concur.

Shipnuck: It complicates the future, though. Rory looked so confident at the top. Now you have to wonder if he’s got the stomach for it. If you look at the guys who have been No. 1 in Rory’s lifetime, he’s probably closer to Fred Couples, personality-wise, than anyone.

Anonymous Pro: We’ve learned that it’s impossible to predict a winner. Parity is more prevalent than ever. You’ve had rookies leading and so many young talents emerging—Russell Henley, Jordan Spieth, Michael Thompson, John Huh.

Garrity: We were on the verge of writing off Tiger and Phil, but Tiger has three wins and Phil had a great week in Phoenix. We also learned that Brandt Snedeker isn’t a one-hit wonder. He’s for real.

Bamberger: We learned again that past performance has very little to do with present or ­future results. Thompson played lousy on the West Coast and came back to win the Honda. We’re always so worried whether Tiger or Rory is on form, and the fact is, you can figure it out in a day. Not us, of course. Tour players.

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