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The Masters


In the shadows of the Georgia Pines, it was Patrick Reed who slipped on the Green Jacket as the 2018 Masters champion.  Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIllroy no doubt looked on thinking what might have been.  Fowler couldn’t buy a putt early, then played his last 11 holes in 6 under, birdieing the 18th to put some pressure on Reed.  Spieth’s final round was almost the stuff of legend.  No one had ever come from 9 behind on Sunday to win The Masters, alas the record remains intact.  McIllroy was poised to create some history of his own by becoming just the 6th player to complete the Career Slam.  Rory carded a mediocre 74 to slip to T5. 


Patrick Reed left the door ajar early but Rory and Rickie just couldn’t step in.  Then on the par-5 13th, Reed received a gift from the “golfing gods” when his 2nd shot stayed dry, it definately shouldn’t have.  Freddie Couples, Adam Scott and defending champion Sergio Garcia received the same gift and went onto victory and now Patrick Reed has experienced the same fate – omen?  If that wasn’t enough, his 1st putt on 17 from long range cannoned into the back of the cup coming to rest a few feet from the cup.  The putt had pace but instead of struggling to make a 4, Reed made his next for a par and held steady.  It was Patrick Reeds 6th and definitely biggest win on Tour.


Rickie Fowler worked his way into the tournament with a sparkling 65 on moving day but his blade wasn’t behaving early Sunday.  A pair of birdies to close out the front half got the ball rolling and he closed with a 32.  A birdie on 18 moved Fowler to 14-under, 1 shot off the lead which forced Reed to make par up the last. 


Jordan Spieth opened with a 66 and held the 1st round lead only to follow up with 74, 71 and fall off the leader board.  Starting Sunday 9 back with “no pressure”, Spieth went out in 31 (5-under) and yet, still no one really gave him a chance…. surely not.  Playing ahead of Reed, Spieth holed a bomb on 16 to get to 14-under and a share of the lead.  A heartbreaking bogey on the 18th and Jordan Spieth’s Masters dream was dashed.


Rory McIllroy had it all before him and coming off a Saturday 65 he looked destined to sit alongside Sarazen, Hogan, Player, Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only men to win all 4 Majors.  McIllroy carved his tee-shot on the 1st, played a miraculous recovery to the front green-side bunker and got up and down for an unlikely par - maybe it was to be his day.  On the par-5 2nd, McIllroy knocked his 2nd shot to within 6-feet with a look at eagle and a share of the lead.  He missed and made a birdie moving him to within 1, alas that was that closest he got and he fell out of contention.


World No.3 Jon Rahm opened with a 75 in his 2nd appearance at Augusta, then shot 68, 65 to begin his final round at -8.  Whilst Rahm fired a very creditable final round 69, it was not enough to seriously challenge and he finished 4th at 11-under.  McIllroy tied for 5th with Cameron Smith, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson.  Smith was out in par then had 6 back-9 birdies to assure himself of a Masters invite next year and finish 9-under.  Cameron Smith has already won over $2 million this season and is a very creditable 22 on the FedEx table. 


Bubba Watson was never really in contention and aside from the bright pink boots he wore in the final round, he was fairly inconspicuous.  After opening with a 73, Watson shot 3 consecutive rounds in the 60’s but didn’t go “really low” and was never in it.  Stenson is playing nicely, just not spectacularly this season.  He has recorded 4 top-10’s in the 5 events he’s played so far, but just can’t get the job done.


Australia’s Marc Leishman had his 2nd best result at Augusta – 9th.  Leishman was 7-under after 2 rounds and on the verge of seriously contending.  Moving day arrived and Marc Leishman needed to move on the back of a fine 67 Friday, Unfortunately Leishman had a frustrating day on the greens holing nothing and had a disappointing 1-over 73.  A final round 70 saw Leishman finish -8.  Jason Day -2 and Adam Scott +1 both made the cut but neither found their way to the front page of the leader board.


Once again The Masters gave us a roller coaster of drama and emotions, with the golf course ultimately having the last laugh.  Defending champion Sergio Garcia had his butt severely kicked with a 13 on opening day to which he never recovered.  In the oppressive Sunday afternoon heat at Augusta, Patrick Reed stood tall and withstood the challengers to prevail.  A deserved winner indeed.


The Tour visits South Carolina this week for the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head and it’s “back to work” for the majority of the Tour.  Check in for our full review.


Click here for final leader board








The Masters



As far as we’re concerned, there’s only two events that come around every year.  There’s Christmas and then there’s the Masters.  Actually The Masters might be better, at least you don’t have to sit in front of the TV with your extended family at 4:00am.  It’s just you, the dog and a cup of coffee glued to the golfing equivalent of DisneyLand.  I mean seriously, is there any other time of the year when you bounce out of bed four mornings in a row well before the sparrow has even stirred, let alone farted.




The Masters. Say those 2 words to any golf fan and watch their face light up. Like "The Open", The Masters only needs 2 words to let anybody know just what you are talking about. Yes, the PGA and US Open are big tournaments as well, but they do not have the tradition that Augusta has. This is really the key to The Masters... Tradition. Its the only major that really, hasn't changed. 


Yes, of course, the golf course has changed in many small ways. Tees have been moved, greens have been re-shaped, holes have been lengthened. The golf course in 1940 measured 6,218m and the current course is 6,799, but that is not what I am talking about. The tradition involved with The Masters has not changed. Look at any other major tournament and you will see what the difference is. This tournament has been staged at Augusta alone, since 1934. Every single other major has a rotation in effect. The tournament moves from state to state, from course to course and every year it is significantly different. Not The Masters. Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts bought this land and commissioned Dr. Alistair MacKenzie to build a golf course. It opened for play in 1933 and in 1934 it staged the first "Augusta Invitational Tournament". It was won by Horton Smith and the prize of $1500 was awarded to him. The present name of "The Masters" was not adopted until 1939 and the front and back nines were initially, the other way around. Some things have changed at Augusta and for the better. Originaly, Clifford Roberts was famous for saying that "golfers will be white and caddies will be black as long as I am alive." Roberts shot himself in 1977, but was elevated into the golf Hall Of Fame in 1978 for his work overseeing The Masters from its inception to 1976. 


It took until 1961 for a non-American to win here and when Gary Player did achieve his breakthrough, he was the only non-American to win again until 1980, when Seve took the title. If you look down the list of winners here, you will not see many players names that do not belong in hall of fames everywhere. Sarazen, Nelson, Hogan, Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, Floyd, Watson, Ballesteros, Crenshaw, Langer, Faldo, Lyle, Woosnam, Couples and in recent years, Mickelson, Bubba, Speith, Woods and of course Scott. The multiple winners here are the stuff of legend. Byron Nelson won 2, so did Ben Hogan, Ben Crenshaw, Olazabal and Seve. Sam Snead won 3 and so did Player, Faldo and Mickelson. Then there are the rare ones like Palmer and Tiger, that have won 4. Nicklaus with his final victory in 1986 won 6. 


It's provided nothing but heartbreak for most of its history to Australians. The list of runner ups is long. Jim Ferrier was 1st in 1950, Bruce Crampton ran 2nd to Jack in 1972, Jack Newton to Seve in 1980, Greg Norman three times was 2nd. First to Jack in '86 after his amazing back nine and then famously to "The chip in" from Larry Mize the year after. Finally being soundly beaten by 5 shots from Nick Faldo in '96. Adam Scott and Jason Day were both equal 2nd in 2011 to Charl Schwartzel before Scott finally had the Australian breakthrough with his playoff victory over Angel Cabrera in 2013.


There are so many other reasons why this is such a great tournament. Firstly, for me, it's the field. You have to be invited to this tournament. Even though there are qaulifiers, you still have to be invited to play here. I would think that there is nothing as good for a professional golfer than to recieve a letter and when you open it, its an invitation to compete in The Masters. This letter would find its way into a frame and be on a great deal of pro golfers walls at home. The way the tournament is conducted is another thing that stands out for me. There is no running, no mobile phones, no yelling out "mashed potato" or any other nonsense. If you do, you will be politely asked to leave the grounds. This needs to happen at more tournaments, because the "idiot" factor is taking over the PGA Tour. The concession stands still sell the same style food, as they have for decades and the prices remain the same. The lottery for tickets has become something that you feel like you have won big time, if you manage to get a ticket. Recently, the governing body has started to crack down on some of the re-selling of Masters tickets and there have been stories of some being forever struck off the chance to ever buy tickets again. 


The par 3 contest the day before is great. Pros take out their families and legends compete with todays champions to create a spectacle that all other tournaments just do not have. Same to be said about the Honorary Starters. We have lost Arnold, but I am sure that Jack and Gary will still be there teeing off in the morning mist to start proceedings. These are things that will stick in the mind of the viewer for years after they have happened. I still remember Snead and Sarazen teeing off from years ago. You cannot say that about any other tournament.


Who's got the game, who's got the nerve and more importantly who's got the patience to finish on top of the heap Sunday afternoon?  There is usually 1 shot or 1 "lucky" break that falls the way of the eventual winner.  In 1992 on the short par-3 12th, Fred Couples ball stayed dry when it shouldn't have and he went on the win.  Then there was Phil's 6-iron off the pine straw, between a couple of trees from 207-yards to 4-feet.  Nicklaus winning at 46 years old, he came from behind to beat Norman, Price and Seve on an incredible back nine run and we can't forget Bubba hooking a wedge 165 yards long and 45 yards sideways to beat Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole in 2012.


This is the point of The Masters, there are always 'moments' that make the difference. These moments end up being the difference between winning and losing. Who will have 2018's moment? Who will be this years "Yes Sir" (when Nicklaus sank his putt), or "oh my!" (when Tiger's ball took that one more roll), or will there be a "Shot heard round the world" like Sarazen's albatross in the 1935 tournament. The Masters seems to etch these moments into our memories year after year. Yes, the other majors do this, but not to the extent that The Masters does it. The traditions involved in this tournament is what sets it apart and makes us remember what happenned here always. 


To this year's Masters. Who will win it? There are so many stories to put in here, but we have not got the space, so let's just concentrate on the favourites. After his recent form turnaround and his victory in the WGC Dell Match Play, you would have to give the top billing this week to Bubba. Not only does he already own 2 green jackets, but his game and especially his putter, are in spectacular form. He has to go into this week as the hot player. The other that we believe will be in the mix is Justin Rose. The Englishman has been runner up here twice in 2015 to Jordan Speith and last year to Sergio and he has the form and the game to put up a winning score around Augusta.


Modern day legends and old foes Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have both tapped into the past.  Tiger's return to the game is a win short of spectacular and Phil turned back the clock a couple of weeks ago in Mexico.  What of young guns Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas?  Can Spieth turn it around with the blade?  Johnson, who won 3 straight last year before falling down the stairs the night before last year’s Masters, isn’t in the same form.  And is Thomas ready for the oppressive Sunday afternoon heat?  Defending champ Sergio Garcia appears comfortable with his game and would love nothing more than going back to back.


Can an Australian don the Green Jacket?  Jason Day’s schedule has been light leading in this year, playing only 4 events.  He won the Farmers and was T2 at Pebble, but they were in January and February.  Day’s March form was not as encouraging finishing out of the top-20 in 2 starts.  Adam Scott’s program is always set for him to peak at Major time but his recent results haven’t been outstanding.  In fact, Scott has broken 70 just 3 times this season and shooting par won’t win the Masters.  Marc Leishman’s form has been indifferent.  In 8 tournaments this year he’s had 3 top-10’s but finished well down in the rest, missing 1 cut.  In 2013 when Scott won, Leishman had his best result finishing T4.  In his 4 other starts, Marc Leishman hasn’t cracked the top-40.  Cameron Smith is the only other Australian teeing it up in Georgia, this will be his 2nd start.  In 2016 he finished T55, unable to break par in his 4 rounds.  This season Smith has been solid; 10 events, 9 cuts, 4 top-10’s and sitting 20th in the FedEx Cup.  Just 1 start at Augusta might work against him.

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And then there's the Green Jacket that's placed on the winners back by last years’ champion.  Every champion gets only the one jacket and even though they get to take it away and wear it everywhere for the year after their win, it always finds its way back to Augusta and they are kept in a special locker room for whenever that champion comes back for the Champions Dinner. Each jacket wearer also becomes an honorary member of Augusta. From all reports, the jacket costs very little to produce and frankly it doesn't go with much.  But regardless of the colour shirt and slacks the winner is wearing, Masters Green goes with everything. A few jackets that have found there way off the grounds at Augusta, the most famous is the one Seve had in his trophy room at his house. I don't know anybody who has a problem with that though. Who will wear it this year?



Gunga galunga



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