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The Masters: Is Zach Johnson just another major "freak?"

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

This is the most difficult column I've ever had to write on The Masters. It's a little easier today than Saturday, when it was nearly impossible to get it close to a good adjective.

Zach Johnson
ZachJohnsonMugshotAugusta National

In any case, a few random thoughts before we let the 2007 Masters slide into history - or infamy, as the case may be.

* Will Zach Johnson be one of those "freak" major winners like Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton?

I have a feeling he will be. Johnson is a good, solid player, but he doesn't hit it long enough to run with the big dogs. It wouldn't surprise me if he never wins another major.

* The inside-the-studio green jacket ceremony on CBS was totally bogus. It couldn't have been more forced, more stale, the green jacket all bunched up around Johnson's shoulders. He looked like a bewildered 12-year-old kid. The whole thing had an air of awkward, TV-unreality. Ditch it.

* Is the Masters a holy holiday? Is there a reason it's held so close to Easter?

Hey, I love the Masters. It's my favorite tournament, but those televised "Masters Moments" were so emotionally cloying they made me want to consult Genesis, Revelations and the Book of Ruth.

Even CBS analyst Nick Faldo got caught up in it. Where was the caustic commentary we've come to love and expect from the Brit? He was rather bland all week. I never heard one criticism from him, and Lord knows there was plenty to dish out.

I would like to have heard Johnny Miller's take.

* Did anybody else hear Stuart Appleby drop the F-word bomb on Sunday's Easter telecast? I always thought it would be Tiger Woods who would blurt it out on camera. I'll bet there were some spilled mint juleps inside the Augusta National sanctums.

* I still don't agree with Jack Nicklaus' incessant blubbering about how modern technology is destroying the world, but clearly the old boys in Augusta went a little overboard.

"The course is ridiculous," Henrik Stenson told reporters. "It feels like I'm walking around for five hours and someone is whipping me on the back. The only way to have fun on Augusta National is to play with your buddies and have a few beers."

"There is no sound here at all," Butch Harmon said to the media. "The electricity is gone. Is that what Augusta National wanted when they changed the course a couple of years ago? I don't think so."

There has to be a way to tweak golf courses to deal with the length modern players have now, without taking Fred Funk out of the equation. How about narrowing the fairways and putting in more obstacles 300-350 yards from the tee? I'm not a designer, but just a thought.

The shrewd, old boys at Augusta kind of backed down Sunday, didn't they, with their easy pin placements and watering of the greens?

"The course played good, the way it should, the way it was set up to," Adam Scott told reporters.

PGA Tour players whine more than the Republican minority in Congress, but this is one time there was some legitimacy.

* One reason to hate the Masters: limited commercial interruption. Man, those commercials were short. Every time I switched to the tractor pulls on ESPN Alternate, I found I had missed another double-bogey when I switched back.

* Tits on a bull department: The Golf Channel's "live" coverage of the Masters.

* Where was Jim Furyk? I didn't see him on CBS once.

* I also missed Phil Mickelson at the end. On a golf course with 18 potential train wrecks, the biggest train wreck of all didn't have a chance to try something incredibly stupid with it all on the line.

* For all you old-timers who love Nicklaus, here's one of his Masters records Tiger Woods will never break. Nicklaus had 24 eagles in Augusta, Woods nine.

* I agree with Chris Baldwin's comment that when the media describes a guy as "normal," that usually means he's boring. Johnson's personality is as white bread as another layup on a reachable par-5.

* The European major no-win streak continues, I'm happy to report. Frankly, I think if you put together a South African team, you'd have a major power: Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Rory Sabbatini, Retief Goosen and Tim Clark could probably beat both the U.S. and European teams.

* An Aussie has never won the Masters. Just thought I'd point that out.

* It was good to see some of the old-timers, if not do well, then at least make the cut and finish the tournament without requiring medical attention: Ben Crenshaw, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Craig Stadler.

I still think Gary Player should bag it next year, though. Let Arnold Palmer keep the consecutive Masters appearances record with 50. He deserves it more.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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