He is not the Tiger of old. At least not yet. The Tiger of old dominated entire tournaments. This Tiger -- at least until his eliminates his consistency problems -- only dominates in stretches. But that's good enough. Like the old Tiger, this one still has an aura about him, especially in the majors. If it's within his grasp, he'll win. And now he's halfway to Nicklaus.
The defending champ entered the final round with an outside chance at a second straight Masters win. Had he matched Tiger's third-round 65, Lefty would have made the playoff. But perhaps the grind of his recent playing schedule and all the rain delays finally wore him down, as he finished with a 74. Now about those metal spikes ...
Speaking of metal spikes, Vijay had some concerns about Mickelson's footwear, but the two made nice in the final round when they were paired together. Singh started well at Augusta with an opening-round 68 but failed to produce anything spectacular the rest of the way. Still, he tied for fifth despite putting problems (must have been the spike marks!).
A second-round 75 put Goosen at a disadvantage, but he rallied with the lowest score of any golfer in the final round, posting a 67 to finish tied for third. Like Singh, Goosen had problems on the greens, costing him a chance to hang with Woods and Chris DiMarco. "I played well for 2 1/2, three rounds, played really solid," Goosen said. "The putter was still ice-cold or it could have been a better day."
Annika won't be teeing it up at this week's LPGA Takefuji Classic in Las Vegas. In fact, her next competitive appearance isn't scheduled until May 5 when she plays the Michelob Ulta Open in Virginia. She'll be seeking her sixth consecutive victory, which would be an LPGA record.
Els was a popular pick among Masters prognosticators (including yours truly) who figured he was due at Augusta after coming close so many times this decade. Instead, the Big Easy barely made the cut and then played even worse in the third round when he skied to a 78. He eventually finished 47th, hardly looking like he belongs in the Big Four.
Other than a missed cut at the FBR Open, Donald quietly has been the most consistent golfer without a victory this season. That consistency has elevated him from 130th in the world at the start of 2005 to his current ranking of 13. Only four first-time golfers at Augusta have ever finished better than Donald's tie for third on Sunday.
DiMarco has now appeared in (and lost) two consecutive playoffs in the majors. He impressed with his resiliency after Tiger zoomed by him early Sunday, fighting back to force the extra hole. But other than the Match Play final, which he lost 6 & 5 to David Toms, DiMarco hasn't shown much else this season -- until Augusta.
Taking low amateur honors at the Masters (and more important, an invite to next year's tourney due to his T-13 finish) continues a great 2005 campaign for the UNLV star. He's already won three college tournaments this season and finished in the top six in his other three starts.
Scott has now played 14 rounds at the Masters and has yet to break 70. Augusta National should be tailor-made for his Tiger-like (or is that Tiger-lite?) game, but something's amiss. Scott and Stuart Appleby were supposed to lead the Aussie contingent, but it was Masters rookies Mark Hensby and Rod Pampling who ended up with the best results.
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