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Golf Barometer: The Old Tiger is not Coming Back

David Ferris

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

Bubba Watson: I need a mulligan on this one, because I didn't think Watson had enough creativity and patience to tame Augusta. I had him missing the cut, and instead Watson had a green jacket in his grasp Sunday evening. Head back to the tee and hit a provisional, Ferris. Watson also gets points for being very human in the postgame, giving thoughtful answers to the press room, breaking down here and there, and then engaging scores of his friends Monday in social media. Golf needs more stories like this.

Matt Kuchar:
It doesn't feel like he's had that impressive a season and then you look and see no missed cuts, four consecutive six-figure checks and a snappy T3 at the Masters despite no rounds lower than 69. Kuchar's ball striking was angelic the entire week; he just needed to putt a little better to forge into the playoff. He's too good not to win a major eventually, especially since he fully believes it's within his grasp.

Andy North, ESPN:
He just might be the most underrated voice on the entire network c it's a shame ESPN doesn't have more of a presence with golf. North never throws shtick at you, and he has a sound, reasoned explanation for why anything happens on the course. From strategy to the mental game to swing mechanics, North knows it all - and he can describe things in a way that pleases both the novices (easy to understand) and the experts (there's a deeper layer of analysis).

Jim Furyk:
Things were a little choppy early in the season - he gave away his match in the first round of the Accenture Match Play - but Furyk's steady way has been back for a solid month now. The tie for second at the Transitions Championship sounded the alarm, but it was nice to get the validation of his T11 check at Arnie's Place and the T11 run at the Masters (despite never breaking 70 in any round). Harbour Town is the type of layout that plays to Furyk's game and personality (patience, patience, patience), so make sure you use him this week.

Bo Van Pelt:
He might be the best player no one talks about, one of those steady guys who starts to pick up his game in the latter part of his 30s. Van Pelt really didn't play well at Augusta until Sunday and still turned that into a T17 check, and he's banked $124K or more in five of his last six events. Everyone thinks of him as a bomber off the tee, but he's sitting 38th in driving accuracy, second in putting strokes gained and first in all-around ranking. Show some respect to the Oklahoma State product.

Downgrade

Tiger Woods:
Come on, Big Guy. Time to grow up a little bit. Phil doesn't throw his club when he messes up. Rory doesn't turn into a Class A jerk when a meltdown comes - and he's had two meltdowns at Augusta the last 13 months. Not everyone in the field has that petulant body language after missed putts, like it's the green that screwed up, not you. We understand that it's hard to get adjusted to a golf world doesn't revolve around you, but if you want to make a legitimate run at Jack's 18 majors, you have to find a way to win big events when no one in the field fears you. The overpowering and intimidating Tiger is gone for good, and unfortunately so is the guy who willed in so many critical putts. Time for a reinvention, a little maturity and the benefit of perspective. Take some time off if you need it.

K.J. Choi:
He's had no trouble making cuts other than last week, but Choi hasn't contended since the T5 finish at the Tournament of Champions, and his ball striking has been mediocre all year (136th in total driving, 103th in greens in regulation). There's a reason we don't chase after any career year that shows in someone's early 40s. Choi is back to being just another good player, not the force of nature he showed in 2011.

Holding Steady

Peter Hanson:
Leading the Masters into the fourth round, that's wonderful. Basically throwing up all over yourself on Sunday, that's a different story. Hanson might have been a little too respectful and deferential to Phil Mickelson and the Masters itself; to be a winner in this sort of spot, you need to fully buy into the idea that you're the best player in the field this week. Hanson didn't trust himself over the front nine Sunday, and it basically handed away all legitimate claims at the title. He'll learn from it; this is a ball-striking stud who can compete anywhere.

Phil Mickelson:
It's a gift and a curse, thinking you can get away with any swashbuckling shot when you need it. If we want to embrace Phil's cojones in the 2010 Masters victory, we have to accept the mess he made at the fourth hole Sunday, where he was the only person on the grounds who didn't see what a poor decision it was to try to play his second shot as it lay. If Mickelson replays that hole and somehow finds a way to make a three or a four, he's probably your Masters champion by the end of the day. Still, you love that the wedge has come back nicely, and Mickelson's putting has been more reliable this season. He's still one of the 3-5 best players in the world, bar none.

Nick Watney:
He was steady, if not great, for the first three rounds, and then he threw up a 77 on Sunday. Watney's greatness as a player has yet to be validated in big events; he has a handful of mediocre showings (T18, 46, MC, MC, T12, T32) over his last six majors. Watney doesn't turn 31 until the end of the month, so no one hears the biological clock ticking yet. But maybe he's just meant to be another good player, not a true superstar.