What We Learned at the 2013 Masters

Tiger Woods makes his infamous drop at the 15th hole Friday at the 2013 Masters.
Simon Bruty/SI

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — What did we learn from the Masters, class?

We learned that lazy Americans won’t bother learning how to correctly pronounce the names of foreigners, even if they’re 14-year-old sensations who make the cut at the Masters. It was easier to say “The Kid” or “the 14-year-old” on television than it was to say Tianlang Guan, which I’m told should sound more like shin-lahn than Tin-lang.

We learned that 33-7 isn’t the score of a football game but a rule that, if applied universally the way it was to Tiger Woods in Augusta, means no player guilty of a rules breach found after-the-fact should ever be disqualified for signing an incorrect score again. Of course, that’s not how it is going to work for the rank and file. There will be more DQs for wrong cards following post-round penalties. The Masters bent the rules for Tiger. Let me simplify the whole supposedly complicated Tiger issue for you: Yes or no, did Tiger sign for an incorrect score? Correct answer: Yes. He agreed that he took a wrong drop and should’ve had a two-shot penalty included. Tiger should’ve been disqualified. The rest of the story is smoke and mirrors and the more Fred Ridley talked, the worse it sounded. What a stain it would’ve been had Tiger won. He would’ve had to get to 20 majors to beat Jack because this one wouldn’t have counted in the eyes of a lot of observers. Luckily, that’s a moot point now.

We learned that Angel Cabrera is a stud. Is it really so simple that he started playing badly after he quit smoking and he started playing good again after he resumed smoking? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to face him in match play, ever.

We learned that no matter what anyone says, until Rory McIlroy gets his game together and wins again, maybe it is the new clubs.

We learned that 30 thrilling minutes at the end of the day makes up for three kinda boring hours leading up to it, which was what Sunday at the Masters felt like.

We learned the Masters folks want the tournament finish to stray into prime time so badly that they continue to risk a Monday-morning conclusion even without a weather delay. The late tee times Sunday don’t leave much room for a playoff. Scott and Cabrera could not have played another hole in the dark. Nobody wants to come back Monday morning. Is finishing at 7 or 7:15 really so important? It’s the Masters. Viewers would tune in if the last group finished at 3 in the afternoon. They’d tune in Monday morning, too, but those 60,000 or so fans wouldn’t be there to give the tournament its uniquely exciting atmosphere.

We learned that anybody who yells stupid stuff after a tee shot just to be heard on TV, like “Mashed potates!” or “Ridonkulous!” should be shot, dragged off the course and fed to raccoons.

Let’s go to the Van Cynical Mailbag. Please hold your applause until the end.

Will Steve Williams break Jack’s record of 18 majors? — Bob Cayne via Twitter

Hah. Good line, Bob-o. This Masters win gives Stevie a piece of 14 majors (13 with Tiger). He could pass Jack but Adam Scott better win five more majors before the anchored putting ban goes into effect in three years. I don’t see Scottie racking up multiple majors with a short putter. A better question might be, who’s going to finish with more majors, Stevie or Tiger, since they’re both at 14. Stevie is 49, Tiger is 37. I’d lean toward Tiger but you never know. What if Stevie somehow wound up on the bag for Rory McIlroy? He could put the record out of reach.

Do you think trial by TV viewer is fair? (Re: Tiger’s penalty) — Sanjay Iyer via Twitter

Absolutely — if it takes a TV viewer to ensure that justice is done, so be it. Would it be fair for a player to get away with a rules violation that could be corrected? No. Is it fair that some players are on TV way more and therefore more scrutinized? No. But whatever it takes to play by the rules is fair. So keep those calls coming.

How quickly will we see Jason Day bounce back and win on Tour? — Seph Anderson via Twitter

Before the summer ends. JD is back on his game after getting sidetracked by life and becoming a father and temporarily losing interest in working at golf. Even with those last two bogeys, his performance at Augusta was impressive. The Masters run was the affirmation he needed.

Were you surprised by the lack of attention Vijay Singh got at the Masters, for the first two days, at least? — Keith D. Jackson via Twitter

Nah. He didn’t want any attention. Vijay would’ve been like a deer in the headlights.

Vans, why are all these young American stars (Bradley, Fowler, Mahan, Watney) struggling to contend in majors? — Brian Rosenwald via Twitter

Struggling? Fowler was on the first page of the leaderboard going into Sunday’s final Masters round but backed up like a lot of top players did. Bradley has already won a PGA. Mahan and Watney sometimes struggle around the greens, where these things are actually won and lost, but hey, majors are hard. That’s why they’re majors. If they were easy, they’d be called Bob Hopes.

VanCynical, you seem to lack respect for the folks in Far Hills, who unselfishly run the United States Golf Association…blasting them about the proposed long putter ban. I think they have done a magnificent job letting the manufacturers dictate what the rules should be over the last 20 years or so. What gives with all the hostility? – Phil in Ventura, via email

Unselfish? I guess that’s why they wring every penny they can out of the U.S. Open, their big TV show. (Note I didn’t say their big golf tournament.) They pass themselves off as traditionalists yet where did the Monday playoff between Tiger and Rocco Mediate go when it was tied after 18 holes? Tradition would demand No. 1, obviously. But it went to No. 7. Coincidentally, Tiger had butchered No. 1 all week. Since when doesn’t a round of golf start at No. 1? Even the USGA has gone to split tees for the first two rounds. Also, the main part of the USGA’s anchored putting ban argument is boasting that it’s not based on evidence or data. That says it all, and it’s just ignorant. They dropped the ball on metal woods and grooves and the ball and long putters and rangefinders, among a long list of other things. Heck of a job.