By Doug Ferguson ,AP
AUGUSTA, Georgia — Bubba Watson gave a masterful performance but the Masters will be remembered more as a bore than for its roars.
On a golf course so firm and fast that only 19 players shot in the 60s, Watson did it three times. He joined a distinguished list of players to win the Masters twice in three years — Horton Smith, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
But the final group produced only one birdie on the back nine, and that was Watson’s two-putt on the par-5 13th hole after a sand wedge he could hit no closer than 25 feet. There were only three eagles on the back nine the entire day, all on the 13th hole, none by anyone who had a chance to win.
Before attention shifts to Pinehurst No. 2 for the U.S. Open that starts in 57 days, here are some final musings from the 78th Masters: Professional golf faced its first big test last week — a Masters without Woods for the first time in 20 years — and failed to break par.
CBS overnight ratings were down 24 percent from a year ago. It was the lowest overnight rating since 2004 when Phil Mickelson won his first Masters on Easter Sunday, when ratings typically are lower.
That’s no surprise. The Masters is the best TV in golf. Woods is the biggest star.
But the time is coming when Woods and Mickelson (who missed the cut for the first time in 17 years) will no longer be active. Golf is better when there is a dominant player, and golf has had Woods for nearly two decades.
Would having a 20-year-old Jordan Spieth in a green jacket have helped? Possibly. One reason the ratings were not better is that Spieth was never closer than three shots over the final hour. The last time the Masters limped to the finish was when Trevor Immelman built a big lead in 2008.
In the absence of a star, sport needs a good rivalry. Golf has neither at the moment.