One day after Phil Mickelson was the inspired and emotional Masters winner, Tom Watson became the first post-Masters winner. The 60-year-old, who was one shot out of the lead after the first day and played well enough the rest of the way to finish under par, was given a special exemption to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June.
Watson might have been a cinch to receive the invitation, anyway, considering he won the 1982 Open at Pebble Beach and nearly won the British Open last year. But his tie for 18th at the Masters surely couldn’t have hurt. He said Sunday that he had received four such exemptions in the past from the U.S. Golf Association. Each time, he placed in the top 30.
In a statement released by the USGA on Monday, the eight-time major champion said: “Some of my life’s favorite times have been spent near Stillwater Cove. I know there will be more this coming June.”
He wasn’t the only one, though, who came out of Augusta on either an upside or down slope. Here’s a quick primer on the winners and losers at the 2010 Masters:
Winner: The Mickelson family. He said he wondered if someone was out to get him when a tiny pine stamen fell in the line of his putt on No. 2, which wasn’t all that close to any pine trees. “The first thing is, where did that come from?” he said. Not to worry. This was a flawless week, from the gracious way he said he has been the greatest beneficiary from the Tiger Woods phenomenon to the cheerful way Amy Mickelson, at her first tournament in 11 months, told a friend, “I’m so glad to be somewhere I’m supposed to be.”
Winner: Tiger Woods. He got a champion’s welcome and got back to being a golfer.
Loser: The new mellow Tiger Woods. It’s unlikely he can pull it off. In terms of personality, he can’t morph into Kelly Ripa. The best he can do for his public is entertain it with intensity and brilliance on the course—and not make embarrassing news off the course.
Loser: The Conan O’Brien generation. Anthony Kim, 24, made a nice run late Sunday, but it was another very quiet major for his age group. Most of the noise was made by the Johnny Carson crowd: Fred Couples, Watson and soon-to-be 40-year-olds Mickelson and K.J. Choi.
Winner: Augusta National’s roars. Amazing what sunshine and warm temperatures will do. No one made the course much easier than when Zach Johnson won at 1 over par, 17 shots worse than Mickelson’s winning score Sunday. The weather was just nicer. No one complained over the weekend that there just aren’t the roars there used to be.
Loser: Augusta National’s bite. Where’s the threat of catastrophe? If a golfer scored a par on a par-5, it was like a bogey. And when the top guys hit into the trees, they were seldom stymied.
Losers: Allergy sufferers. Woods wore shades all week to keep the raging pollen out of his eyes (it was not his way of hoping no one would recognize him).
Winner: Matteo Manassero of Verona, Italy. He figures he will put the low-amateur trophy in his room, because where else would a 16-year-old put stuff? Youngest Masters competitor ever will turn pro later this year.
Loser: Jim Furyk (and any supposed “expert” who picked him to be in the top five). Despite apparent momentum from winning on the Florida swing, his swing at Augusta was awful. He was 12 over and missed the cut. At least he was eight shots ahead of fellow former U.S. Open champ Michael Campbell.
Winner: English golf. Jolly good show despite Ian Poulter’s tumble Saturday and Lee Westwood’s stumble Sunday.
Winner: Pro golf in general. Ratings were way up as the top personality returned, and then the Mickelsons provided compelling theater.
Loser: Growth of pro golf. It just reinforced the perception that golf is a one-man show (Woods), with a solid and popular supporting actor (Mickelson). What happens when those two aren’t dueling down the stretch at a tournament? Neither of them plays all that much outside the majors.
Mark Herrmann writes for Newsday.