Masters: Whose legacies changed in 2014?
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler all may have seen their legacies changed at the 78th Masters.
It's easy to project a bushel of majors on Jordan Spieth and label him "the next Tiger" or whatever the give-it-to-me-now sports culture demands.
It's equally simple to hand Bubba Watson a Waffle House full of green jackets just because he can bomb that little white sphere a country mile.
But these are the reactions of simpleton sports folks. You know better, or you should, that one tournament does not a career make.
So what do we make of the last four days among the tall, wavy pines of north Georgia?
Let's take a look at whose legacies could have changed or might hinge upon the 2014 Masters...
How differently will we view him?
Well, how differently do you view, say, Jose Maria Olazabal and Mike Weir?
One is an all-timer, in the World Golf Hall of Fame and the other is simply a very good golfer who won Augusta once.
Bubba could have been on that same list Weir is on -- a handful of wins in his career and one green jacket -- but now he is on a list (two-time Masters champs) that includes the names Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, and Ben Hogan.
That's quite a leap from Mike Weir.
The interesting part to me is that Watson still only has six career PGA Tour wins, two of them in the last three months, and all six in the last four years.
He feels like he should be 30 years old but he's 35 and that bomber's swing has a lifespan, and it ain't "forever."
He could pretty easily go down as the worst golfer ever to win two Masters (which, there are worse lists to be on!) because he has a long way to go to catch the second worst (probably Ben Crenshaw with 19 PGA Tour wins and two jackets).
Still, his legacy changed forever on Sunday. One green jacket is terrific, two is a whole other planet.
If you're a believer in the projection that Fowler will have a great career then this weekend was encouraging for you.
It was encouraging because it seems as if Fowler has taken whatever it is Butch Harmon has taught him about his swing and applied it. He had never finished inside the top 25 at Augusta and was a few leaky strokes away on Sunday from rolling with his buddy Watson down the stretch.
If Fowler goes on to have half the career his marketability would suggest he's already had then we'll look back on the 2014 Masters as the turning point.
So great, so soon, and so much you can dream on. His legacy flipped at Augusta this week because it's now him and not Webb Simpson and not Keegan Bradley and probably not Rickie Fowler on whom the future of American greatness in golf rests.
That's a heavy weight to bear but his 72 coming home, while not the stuff of legend, told me he can shoulder it.
Before this Masters he was a potential superstar with high hopes. Now?
He's a bonafide superstar with great expectations.
His absence was noticable, yes. It only takes a quick swipe of the Googles to figure that out. But there might be something more going on here.
What if this was the weekend American youth assumed the spotlight from Woods and the next guy on our list, Phil Mickelson?
What if two of the five best American golfers 25 and under (Fowler and Spieth) only go up from here. Maybe Woods being at the Masters wouldn't have prevented such a thing but at least he would have had the opportunity.
The Tiger narrative will continue (seemingly forever) and maybe none of this is reality, but American youth lurks, and that back (and knee and achilles and elbow and neck) isn't getting younger.
I don't want to overreact but this was Lefty's first missed cut at Augusta since 1997 and just his second at a major since 2007.
That wouldn't mean much, I guess, except that he still doesn't have a top 10 on tour this season and his year hasn't exactly screamed "dude's still got US Opens and Masters wins in him!"
Likely he pulls it together and contends at the big ones for a number of more years but if he fades in the next 24 or 36 months, this week will have been the catalyst.
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