Course Changes Verdict Watch, Vol. 3

Bob Spear breaks out the pom-poms for Hootie's home state paper and declares that the changes were a huge success. (I believe Spear also wrote in an earlier piece that "Jones and MacKenzie would now doubt approve" of the changes).

The layout that some of golf's treasured champions claimed had been ruined with its added length joined the winner in sharing the spotlight in the 70th Masters.

After these past four days, the claims from Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer sound absurd.

I'd love to see Spear that say that to their faces. Maybe when they're are wearing their green jackets!

Remember the rhetoric? With the changes, thrilling finishes would be passe, run-away winners would be more likely and only the longest hitters need apply for contention.

Isn't that kind of what happened?

Historians insist the Masters does not begin until the back nine on Sunday, but they're wrong. The tournament "started" long before - thanks to the changes that both challenged the world's best golfers and also yielded to quality play.

I liked it better when it started on the back nine Sunday.

Mark this down: At 4:10 p.m., 17 players stood within three strokes of the lead.

That's not incredible. That's impossible.

Case closed!

Before he did, however, the tournament "got pretty exciting out there," Couples said. "For a player to win on this course now, (every part of his game) has to click."

Intentionally or not, he described what a major championship test should be, and perhaps now more than ever, Augusta National fit the definition.

That's right. All of those jackets won prior to the changes? Tainted! Take 'em back!