The PGA Tour in general has been lacking a marquee figure since Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs surfaced, combined with a struggle to return to form, all of which started occurring in 2009. The Masters, professional golf's first of four major tournaments each year, thankfully has provided interesting storylines with its last couple of winners, and this year ultimately proved to be no exception.
The constant through all four rounds of the tournament was a South African golfer named Louis Oosthuizen, who shot four under par 68 on the first day and would shoot even par 72 on the second to remain in contention for a title and a celebratory green jacket for the win. Hot on Oosthuizen's heels for the first two days was Bubba Watson, a recent pro and hometown favorite from the University of Georgia who was experiencing his own personal turmoil. Watson and his wife were going through the adoption process, and the three weeks leading up to the Masters, one opportunity fell through, but a week later another opened up, and they wound up adopting a baby boy days before the tournament. The third round came to a close with Oosthuizen shooting a 69 and Watson a 70, finding themselves third and fourth, respectively, behind Peter Hanson and a surging three-time champion Phil Mickelson.
The final round proved to have as many twists and turns as one would expect, starting with a double-eagle by Oosthuizen which helped send him into the lead. Hanson faded over the day, shooting a one over 73 (following a 65 the day before). Mickelson hit a shot on the fourth hole that hit a guardrail and ricocheted into the woods. Rather than go back and hit the shot again, he tried hitting out of it, incurring a triple bogey and knocking him down the leaderboard while Oosthuizen and Watson dueled. Even with Oosthuizen's 69 on the day, Watson's run of birdies on the back nine resulted in a 68 and a playoff, where an improbable shot would wind up winning the title for Watson on the second hole of sudden death.
This highlight film, presented by (presumably) the Augusta Country Club and the sponsors of the tournament, and hosted by Jim Nantz, the broadcast voice for the tournament on television each year. Running just under an hour in length, the piece covers each round nicely and covers not only the leaderboard, but the Amateurs in the tournament, with the one who scores the lowest over the tournament receiving an award as well. The piece does an admirable job conveyed the tension of the tournament over the four rounds and sudden death holes, shows us some of the nice shots, and occasionally goes to split screen to show a shot from this year's tournament, while comparing it to a near-identical one from years past.
If there is one thing that limits this highlight film, it is the subject. Golfers tend to possess a tremendous amount of focus and concentration, so the film tends to lack any additional insight past an occasional voiceover from a particular golfer in a post-round interview or something along those lines. Thus, the film basically looks like a compilation reel of golf shots from various different angles. If you want the feature to be good, branch out a little, but it is clear this is catering to fans of the sport and tournament.
As far as the sport itself, it may still remain dry to some. But for Watson, a guy who is a family man and embraces both his southern roots and Christianity, a guy who received no formal instruction on the sport (and to my knowledge, continues this behavior), stories like this are the reason we watch sports. The highlight film does not tell his story, but how we got to the point of recognizing and admiring his achievement is handled somewhat nicely in the film, and maybe a new name to watch for golf has arrived onto a wider stage.
The Masters highlights are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, some of the feature shot on film, other parts appear to be straight from the television broadcasts, but they all look good. Film grain is present while viewing and there is no noticeable edge enhancement or image haloing during viewing. Colors are reproduced accurately and black levels are decent, without little in the way of crushing, and general image noise is at a minimum. All in all this is a decent and faithful look at the tournament.
Two-channel stereo sound rules the day. I can't say I was surprised at the results. I mean, golf is not a dynamic sport from a sound perspective, so all of the action winds up fixed in the front channels and sounding clear and free of hisses or chirps, other than the birds at Augusta. Dialogue and interviews sound equally clear and free of distortion issues. There is no real immersion, all of the action occurs up front and sounds fine, and the soundtrack is perfectly capable.
Additional footage rules the day, starting with a ceremonial tee-off from legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player (4:25). Masters Champions all, the players, now in their seventies and in Palmer's case, eighties, provide a nice moment which has served as a tradition before the tournament. A press conference with the three (19:57) follows. The awarding of Watson's green jacket in front of past champions and the gallery is next (10:58), and a press conference with him recalling the win (23:49) wraps things up.
This highlight film of the 2012 Masters Tournament is basically that, with an interview segment tossed in here or there to try and make 52 minutes of golf shots perhaps a bit more palatable. With some out of the box thinking they could possibly improve on films such as this, but this is very focused towards the golf fan that you know, love and/or like, so get it for them if they want to relive what 'Bubba Golf' is about.