With The Masters Tournament in the books, the 2012 golf season can now be officially declared underway. The tournament began with legends Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus ceremonially teeing off on Thursday morning in front of numerous former Masters Champions. The heavyweight show of force seemed out of place with the rest of the tournament, as the weekend saw all of the big names of years past succumbing to a new wave of less-credentialed, highly talented players. If you tuned in, you caught some of the most memorable golf in recent years. If you didn’t catch the action, here’s some of what you missed:

- A Saturday that saw three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson put up a scintillating 30 on the back nine to put himself in the final pairing for Sunday.

-A Sunday that saw Tiger Woods mocking his own patented dramatic fist pump on 18, where he finished with a birdie to card a 2-over 74, finishing at +5 for the tournament.

-A Sunday afternoon that witnessed 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen in the lead after posting the first double-eagle ever during Masters tournament play on the 575-yard No. 2. From the fairway, the 29-year-old South African striped a 252-yard 4 iron to the front of the par-5 green and watched his ball slowly funnel to the pin on the right side, where it dropped in neatly for the 2. Oosthuizen was nearly unflappable, flashing a slightly cocky half-smile and a reverse-grip putting stroke that he couldn’t miss with until the bitter end.

-A sudden-death playoff where a big-swinging, fan-favorite lefty whipped the crowds into a frenzy by hitting a pressure-packed shot that shouldn’t have been possible on a video game, much less to decide the most storied tournament in golf. Oh, by the way, that lefty wasn’t Phil Mickelson, who saw his Sunday hopes vanish after a triple-bogey on the par-3 4th hole; it was Bubba Watson. The Florida native and former University of Georgia standout, known as a premier shot-shaper, put 40 yards of hook on a 150-yard wedge shot out of a tree-flanked lie in the pine straw right of the 10th fairway during the second playoff hole. The shot landed on the green and cozied up to around 10 feet, which left Watson a two-putt for the green jacket after missing potential tournament-winning putts on the previous two holes. After lagging up near the hole and tapping in for the victory, the emotions of one of golf’s defining moments caught up with him, and the tears flowed as he embraced his caddy, Ted Scott, and mother, Molly Watson. The outpouring of emotion was sharpened by Watson’s recent adoption of a son, Caleb, and by the memory of his father, Gerry Sr., who died in 2010 after a protracted battle against late-stage cancer. “He’s up in heaven watching his son play golf, and I know he’s enjoying it,” Watson explained during an interview in May. With the victory, Watson has assured that many more in the golf world will now be watching and enjoying the free-swinging, big-hearted style he brings to the game.

To recap: the drama that unfolded Sunday was unpredictable, compelling, and did not prominently feature Tiger, Phil or current heir-apparent Rory McIlroy. Without those canned storylines, the tournament was the latest chapter to an old story of a course – and a game – where hope springs eternal.

Side Note: Sunday must have felt like Christmas morning for the folks at PING. PING hats, bags and clubs were used by Watson and Oosthuizen, as well several other players who were in contention Sunday. We predict a deluge of pink PING logos coming soon to a clubhouse near you!

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