"We'll have to see."

There was so much to enjoy in Tom Watson's post round press conference, but I most enjoyed the jabs at Augusta National and the R&A for over-the-top course changes. Granted, these things have been said many times before by Watson and others, but something about the setting and the magical week transformed these from mere jabs.

Q. With it all said and done, would you have rather gone through this experience at this stage in your career or have the memories be about things you did decades ago?

TOM WATSON: You mean having a chance to win it again?

Q. Yeah.

TOM WATSON: Well, hell, yes. Yeah, darn right. Winning it again was -- as I said, I don't like to go to Augusta anymore because I feel like I'm a ceremonial golfer there; I can't play that golf course anymore unless I'm absolutely perfect. But out here I have a chance. And I knew I had a chance starting out. So, yeah, I'm glad this happened.

Q. Do you think you'll also have a chance at St. Andrews, which is where next year you'll be, of course?

TOM WATSON: Well, it depends on the wind. If the wind comes from the west there, I have a hard time with that golf course. Hole No. 4 gets me. I can't hit it far enough to get it over the junk. You have the rough there, and it depends on how deep the rough is. I'm driving into the rough all the time. It's like the 10th hole at Bethpage Black there at the first U.S. Open; when they moved the tee back, nobody could get to the fairway.

But I feel like I can play St. Andrews. I still have some of the shots to be able to play that golf course. We'll just have to see. We'll have to see.

The fact that a west wind makes the carry at No. 4 nearly impossible does speak to the silliness of these newly installed tees, but also to player perceptions of R&A setup inflexibility.

Speaking of that, did anyone else notice the par-3 tees at Turnberry? All of the divots were in the same general area. The 11th tee appeared to not move more than a five yards over the four rounds.

"What was he doing making sand angels in the bunker on the final day of the 2009 Masters?"

Thanks to reader Warren for spotting Brad Rock's in-depth story on the antics of Steven Davis, the genius  bonehead  loser  patron who made a splashy but little untelevised spectacle on the 17th hole of this year's Masters finale. Turns out, he can't blame the alcohol. He's just that big of a loser.

"I was turned off by all the stuffiness and arrogance, and even the players seemed so arrogant," he said.

Despite the big stage, he didn't get picked up by the TV cameras, and only small stories appeared in the newspapers, detailing how a fan had jumped into the bunker to retrieve his billfold and sunglasses.

"It was a lot more than that," he said.

He suspects there were photos taken of his stunt, but Masters officials blocked their release. Only credentialed photographers can shoot the event, and cell phones and private cameras are not allowed.

"I ran maybe 100 yards up the fairway, past the players. I was running as fast as I could," he said. "I was jumping and hooting and hollering and then I jumped as high as I could and dove into the bunker like a swimming pool."

And they include this proud moment in his obituary...

The highlight of the day — at least for Davis — was while he was lying on his back in the sand, as Mickelson peered warily over the lip of the bunker.

"The look on his face was priceless. His jaw dropped so far," said Davis. "He looked me in the eye and was shaking his head like, 'What's going on?' I fist-pumped and said, 'Go, Phil!' while I was doing an angel."

“I didn’t see the playoff hole"

Chad Campbell is handling his Masters defeat quite admirably, at least based on this Doug Ferguson note. After all, this can't be easy viewing even with the missing playoff:

Chad Campbell had a tough time going over some of the shots he missed on the back nine of the Masters, where he lost in a playoff, but it didn’t keep him from watching the tournament on tape.

But not the entire final round.

“I didn’t see the playoff hole,” Campbell said with a smile.

That’s probably a good thing, for he was in the middle of the 18th fairway with a 7-iron, blocked it into the bunker, blasted out to 5 feet and missed the cut to get eliminated.

It’s not like Campbell turned off the TV or turned his head. He used a digital video recorder, and well ...

“You know how it works with playoffs and stuff,” he said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t continue to record. And for some reason, it didn’t record it (the playoff). I really don’t know what happened, to be honest. My wife just told me that it didn’t get the whole thing.”

"Because Luis was unknown to the green jackets and mostly speaking Spanish he was able to blend in."

Alan Shipnuck's outstanding reporting of Angel Cabrera's heartburn-inducing post-Masters celebration prompted a reader to wonder if it was actually original reporting upon reading a column last week where the same anecdotal evidence was regurgitated nearly verbatim (without any mention or credit given to Shipnuck's SI story).

So I emailed Shipnuck to see if his piece was the original source. It turns out there's a great story behind the reporting process that speaks to the value of big-budget media operations:

When I went to Cordoba two years ago I was accompanied by SI writer-reporter Luis Fernando Llosa. Luis bonded with Cabrera-as much as anyone can with a prickly, standoffish character who has no use for the media--and he has maintained the relationship, doing a Q/A with Cabrera last year for Golf Magazine and hanging out with him a bit more while reporting a subsequent Andres Romero feature.

Following the third round of this year's Masters I had a strong feeling that Cabrera was going to win so I called Luis in New York to see if he would jet into Augusta to help me out. (Luis was let go by SI last year as part of the grim staff downsizing and has been freelancing ever since.) Luis eagerly agreed, catching a flight the next morning. He had never been to the Masters - he arrived around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, and I walked him through the post-round choreography should Cabrera win, showing Luis the back door to Butler Cabin, where the champion's dinner is held, etc.

Luis walked all 18 holes with Cabrera, hanging out with his Spanish-speaking entourage, many of whom we had met in Argentina. After Cabrera's victory Luis just floated along with Angel's crew, partying in the Butler Cabin after the jacket ceremonies, sitting at Cabrera's table for the champion's dinner with the Augusta National membership and then retiring to Angel's where he partied til 3 a.m.. (With Luis on the Cabrera beat I was freed up to trail Tiger and Phil and their people and then spend some time with K. Perry and his family after the crushing finale.) Throughout all of the post-round festivities Luis was texting me updates of what was happening, and I was responding with requests for specific details and offering potential questions for the champ. Without a doubt Luis was the only reporter in the Butler Cabin and at Angel's after-party. I am 99.8% sure no other scribe managed to crash the champion's dinner. As a rule, reporters are not allowed in there - two years ago I walked in with Zach Johnson and lasted through the toast until I was recognized by a Masters official and tossed out. Because Luis was unknown to the green jackets and mostly speaking Spanish he was able to blend in.

"It was a great win for Oakmont."

Gerry Dulac reports that the folks at Oakmont are quite happy with Angel Cabrera's Masters win. For a while there, they were thinking maybe they'd have to rethink all that over-the-top rough and the narrow fairways for giving them a one-off major champ. But not now...

Club officials have been wanting to bring Cabrera back to Oakmont so they can officially -- and ceremoniously -- present him with their own version of the green jacket, symbolizing lifetime membership in the club. Oakmont does that for all players who have won a major championship at its club.

They also want to show him the room in the club's newest guest cottage, overlooking the swimming pool, that bears his name. Located on the second floor, the Angel Cabrera room is right down the hall from rooms that bear the names of Steve Melnyk (1969 U.S. Amateur champion) and Gene Sarazen (1922 PGA), other past winners at Oakmont.

Angel has to know he's made it when he shares something in common with Melnyk.

"Gee Nick, I didn't realise that you are such a big guy. How come you used to hit it so short?"

John Huggan examines the Phil-Tiger relationship and shares several juicy anecdotes. Two of my favorites:

Then again, Mickelson is hardly devoid of a sense of humour. Less than two weeks ago at the traditional Tuesday evening Champion's Dinner, he got stuck into, of all people, Nick Faldo. Standing next to the six-time major winner for the official photograph, the present world number two didn't miss the past number one. The trash-talking conversation went something like this:

Phil (loud enough for everyone to hear): "Gee Nick, I didn't realise that you are such a big guy. How come you used to hit it so short?"

Faldo: "Listen Phil, when you shoot 19 under par to win the Open at St Andrews you can start giving me a hard time."

Phil: "I understand that. But how come you hit it like such a pussy?"

Faldo: "I played golf the proper way."

Phil: "Yeah, like my wife."

And...

Still, even when Phil and wife Amy sent the Woods family a present to celebrate the birth of daughter Sam, there was an edge to the gesture. The miniature ping-pong table was a not-so-subtle reference to the fact that, at every Ryder Cup, Lefty is too good for his teammate when it comes to table tennis. (Rumour has it that Tiger has searched out expert coaching in order to rectify that situation next time round).

Final Masters Question: Is 60 Minutes That Important?

Other than providing a strong lead-in to CBS's Sunday night magazine show, I cannot comprehend any rational reason for continuing to decide Masters playoffs in sudden death.

Sunday's frenzied playoff was the latest example of the awkward, anti-climactic feel that has tainted past sudden deathers.

Just think: all of that work and all of that great play, yet the coveted first major often comes down to a missed putt or bounce when a three or four hole playoff could eliminate such concerns (as evidenced by widespread praise for the Open and PGA's aggregate playoff formats).

As a wise observer pointed out to me today, never has a Masters sudden death playoff gone more than two holes. In recent years, those holes have been played with the sun about to set. The observer couldn't help but wonder if the pressure of not finishing in the daylight adds to the chaotic nature of things.

Now, with the improved course setup this year, pace of play was significantly faster. Simply moving tee times up 30-40 minutes would open up enough of a window for three holes to be played while still providing that strong lead-in to 60 Minutes (Except on the West Coast).

So is it something about the late light looking a certain way that encourages the club to stick with the current "tradition," even though it would seem like an odd way to culminate a major championship?

Or is 60 Minutes and the lure of a big prime time rating just that important?

Or is it something else? Help!

 

"Did Woods try to accomplish too much, too soon? Has he simply changed?"

Jaime Diaz's engaging, must-read look at Tiger Woods' Masters week raises all sorts of fascinating questions.

So the speculation will begin again. For all the great wins since he began working with Haney in 2004, have the swing changes been the right ones? Is the relationship with Haney in jeopardy? Is there lasting damage in the left knee? Did Woods try to accomplish too much, too soon? Has he simply changed?

Diaz goes on to detail all of the key moments from the week, highlighted by Friday's driving range session:

Steaming, he marched to the range and immediately—and uncharacterically—began pounding drivers. Williams, reading the moment, got away. Haney, who stayed to face the heat, got an earful. Woods eventually cooled off, had a long exchange with Haney and gave the fans who applauded his longer than usual hour-long session a grateful, if clearly discouraged, wave.

Ultimately, it still sounds like for all of the analysis and swing struggles, some perspective is in order. Tiger was off for eight months and simply hasn't played enough tournament golf to be sharp. Diaz doesn't quite go so far as to say it, but based on this next bit, you have to wonder if Haney has pointed out to Tiger that as miraculous as Torrey Pines was, even Tiger needs to play more competitive rounds to work off the rust and to give majors a little less high-pressure urgency.

Though they are words sure to make Haney wince, he took a bullet for his player. "Tiger worked as hard as humanly possible to come back for the Masters," said the swing instructor after the dust had settled Monday morning. "Maybe a little more tournament play would have helped, but he did everything he could. There were a lot of things that you can point to in his not winning, but all it does is point out how hard it is to win major championships."

Especially when they've become all that really matter.

Second Masters Question: It was more than just the weather, no?

I was going to start this post asking why course setup was such a major topic (again) going into this Masters and yet, how few actual details we learned about what went into the committee's efforts to finally make Augusta National resemble its old self.

Sure, the committee will never be the chatty types, but how about some basic observations on tee and hole locations based on observation (you know, by leaving the press center). Or true player/caddy insights into what they actually saw? (And not just that the greens were clearly soft. We at home could see that.)

But then I saw this USA Today headline on a Jerry Potter story:

Players say scoring at majors often dictated by course setup

Rumor has it that tomorrow they've got a grabber titled, "Players say lowest score at majors often wins."

From what I've seen so far of the post Masters issues, the weeklies offer little in the way of details. However, a few reviews are in and, as warranted, they are quite positive.

Doug Ferguson rightly praises the overall change in tone. "The magic of the Masters, however, is not so much about the score as it is the opportunity."

Ron Sirak noted this detail, which seemed to have been overlooked but which was apparent on television (and almost noted on-air by Feherty at No. 15 before he realized the club has snipers trained on him in case he reverts to his true self):

Also, grass was allowed to grow ever-so-slightly longer, preventing balls that in the past may have rolled into water to hang up just short.

Steve Elling had a different take, not convinced just yet that the course is all the way back.

Even with abnormally idyllic weather, softer greens, easier pin locations and front tees that were used liberally throughout the week in a notable departure from the norm, the low score was 12 under par, marking the third time in eight years that the Masters winner finished at that exact number. Thus, it was hardly a sub-sonic total, yet it required perfect conditions and plenty of course tinkering to pull it off.

That represents a flashing yellow light.

Regular readers here know that after Shinnecock, Oakland Hills and way too many other recent rounds, I am fascinated with the idea of courses becoming silly when it's 75 and the wind is clocked at a whopping 15 mph.

So last week for me that "flashing yellow light" came in the form of intentionally soft greens. We should applaud whoever made the call to make the greens slower and softer, because it helped mask the deficiencies in the architecture and gave us a memorable week.

In recent days I've polled folks in the know, asking who deserves the most praise for making this call. They unanimously say Billy Payne deserves it for setting a new tone and essentially overruling the committee charged with setup. Still, let's nod our caps to Fred Ridley, course super Marsh Benson and the committees who found a few new hole locations and did the dirty work.

Of course they should not have to work so hard if the architecture was in better condition. Yes, it was clear the second cut has been negated in many key areas by a discreet widening out of holes.  And the frontal additions to several tees clearly helped based on comments by Crenshaw and Weir. But still, is this quote from an AP notes column (nice spot reader David) really what the club wants to read:

"We played the ladies' tees two days in a row." – Steve Williams, caddie for Tiger Woods, on the course setup.

There were a few times I was worried about player safety on No. 11 when it looked like a Palmer follow-through might lead to a plunge off the front. Then again, wasn't it wonderful Sunday to see the 15th play so short that players were able to bomb it past the abhorred Fazio/Hootie tree farm?

Which is the issue at hand. The committee had to work their tails off to offset the glaring deficiencies: the decrease in width, the second cut, the still-missing ebb and flow of the back nine, and the lack of genuine tee "elasticity." (Oh and we'll give a shout out to Brandel Chamblee who rightly questions the deepening of key fairway bunkers to the point that they eliminate the temptation factor.)

Minus the rough, minus the Christmas trees that are turning into monsters (shrewd planting work there!) but with a few old tees and corridors widened out to their old selves, firmness could be restored. Remember, Bobby Jones HATED soft greens, even writing an essay about it that originally appeared in the USGA Green Section Bulletin and subsequently in Masters of the Links

Wider and firmer does not necessarily mean players would be put back on the defensive. On the contrary, it should lull them into a false sense of security, a primary tenet of great risk-reward design.  And best of all, the committee wouldn't have to work so hard covering up the mistakes made in changing the course.

But can we all agree, the overall change in tone the last few years was not merely a product of the weather?

"Cabrera's appetites are like his drives — prodigious."

SI's Alan Shipnuck files his typically rich-in-detail-no-one-else-has Masters game story. So rich, I'm running for the Pepto tablets just thinking about Angel Cabrera's diet:

Earlier in the evening a quaint Masters tradition had compelled him to eat a champion's dinner with the Augusta National members. Eschewing the lobster macaroni and cheese and other delicacies from the buffet, Cabrera settled on an irresistible item called the Tiger Woods Cheeseburger. The burgers were smaller than expected, so a famished Cabrera ate nine of them, washed down by gulps of red wine. Back at the house, as it neared 2 a.m., he took lusty sips of his favorite drink: Coke mixed with Fernet Branca, a bitter, aromatic spirit brewed from grapes and more than 40 herbs and spices.