The 2014 Masters Tournament was not a keeper. Clearly the audience agreed.
While Bubba Watson was obviously the most dominant player in the field and earned his second green jacket, the drama that defines the Masters was conspicuously absent. With firm and unreceptive greens, the final nine was a complete dud. If that’s what comes with perfect weather, bring on the rain.
The 7.8 overnight rating on CBS for the final round was the lowest since 2004 (7.3), when Phil Mickelson got his breakthrough win on Easter Sunday. It was a 24 percent drop from last year’s 10.2 and lower than Watson’s playoff win in 2012 (8.1).
Saturday’s broadcast enthusiasm was even worse, with a 4.4 rating that hasn’t been that low since 1995.
The lack of drama or anyone pushing Watson down the stretch was obviously a factor, but clearly Tiger Woods was missed. When he’s not in the mix (T22 in 2004, T40 in 2012), the numbers are lower than all the other years when he’s at least featured among the top 10.
But the results still count, and Watson’s burgeoning legacy was the biggest winner. Here are a few more Birdies & Bogeys from the 2014 Masters:
BIRDIE: Jordan Spieth. Full credit to the 20-year-old for hanging in there admirably under pressure and very nearly winning as a rookie. There is zero doubt that he will become a regular force to contend with at Augusta National. A star is born.
BOGEY: Spieth. While his passion and emotion are no doubt what make him the player that he is, he needs to learn how to harness them better on the course. Even G-rated outbursts (and a club slam on 10) can come across as petulant to the viewers at home.
PAR: Adam Scott. Defending champ got rave reviews for his Australian-themed Champions Dinner menu, especially the Penfolds Grange Shiraz. After solid start, however, his repeat bid fizzled with a Saturday 76.
BIRDIE: Miguel Angel Jimenez. Spanish senior was the only guy to make any noise on the back nine Sunday with 33 en route to solo fourth. “I’m not going to get bored of myself,” he said. Neither will we of him.
BOGEY: Matt Kuchar. Poised to seal his legacy with major win, he dropped from tie for lead with double on 4th Sunday and never threatened thereafter. Needs work on his closing skills.
BIRDIE: Jonas Blixt. Most of the attention was paid to Spieth, but the other rookie runner-up impressed with four consecutive under-par rounds. The Swede was T4 in last year’s PGA, so perhaps we should pay more attention.
BOGEY: Patrick Reed. The former Augusta State star garnered a lot of press attention for his talent and ego, but when things went sour on the course he blew everybody off and stormed home after cut. Top 5 players are expected to stand up to scrutiny.
BIRDIE: Rory McIlroy. Despite a few bad breaks, losing to a marker and another blowup round (77), the Northern Irishman rallied with a 4-under weekend to post his first top-10 at Augusta.
BOGEY: Dustin Johnson. First Masters missed cut also deprived patrons of two more days mingling with Paulina Gretzky.
BIRDIE: Rickie Fowler. Tie for fifth was “a big step forward” for the 25-year-old who’s never missed a cut in four Masters starts.
BOGEY: Pinehurst. Tiger missed Masters for the first time in his career after undergoing back surgery on March 31. Now his good friend Notah Begay says Woods is likely to remain sidelined for 90 days, which “would push him past the U.S. Open.”
BIRDIE: Kevin Stadler. Rookie earned a return trip with T8. Would have been nicer if he’d more warmly acknowledged the presence of his father (1982 champion Craig) behind 18th green Sunday.
BOGEY: Past champs. Bubba’s repeat couldn’t mask hugely disappointing efforts from recent winners Phil Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera and Trevor Immelman.
BIRDIE: Old guys. A record six players 50 years or older made the Masters cut, three of them finishing in the top 20, including a T8 by 56-year-old Bernhard Langer.
BIRDIE: Jeff Knox. The 51-year-old local amateur outdid himself as a marker, beating both McIlroy (70-71) and Larry Mize (77-79) in consecutive days.
BOGEY: Marc Leishman. In 15 long holes on Friday, the Aussie went from solo leader at 5-under to missing the cut at 5-over. But he deserves major credit for standing there to talk all about it (see Reed above).
BIRDIE: Drive, Chip and Putt. This well-run and compelling skills competition was a massive hit and probably did more to grow game among juniors than all of the club’s other initiatives combined. A welcome new Masters Week tradition.
BOGEY: Ben Crenshaw. After rounds of 83-85, he announced the 2015 Masters will be his last. He’ll go around one more time with legendary Augusta caddie Carl Jackson on 20th anniversary or their second green jacket.
PAR: Fred Ridley. A welcome uneventful week for the Chairman of the Competition Committee after a tumultuous 2013.
BOGEY: Rule of 17. Spieth’s fade ended the symmetry of the historical 17-year arc of youngest Master winners from Jack Nicklaus (1963) to Seve Ballesteros (1980) to Tiger Woods (1997).
BIRDIE: 17th hole. Without the Eisenhower Tree blocking half the fairway, the scoring average on Nandina actually went up from 4.220 to 4.239.
BOGEY: Back-nine roars. Whether it was a set-up too tough or weather too nice, the back-nine lacked drama all week and it was noticeably quiet. Nobody could hold the 15th green and overall eagles (20) were fewest since tedious 2008.
BIRDIE: Waffle House. Bubba picked iconic brand for post-victory late-night snack. Krispy Kreme will have to hope Phil wins again to regain the limelight.
BIRDIE: Pace of play. In a season defined by glacial players and a year after Tianlang Guan earned a stroke penalty for delay of game, the final pairing Sunday finished in under 4 hours and the average time was 3 hours, 57 minutes.