By Seth Rivello
April has rolled around and sporting events are beginning to pick up. Major League Baseball is back, the NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, NFL draft, and the Masters are all within sight. The Masters is arguably the biggest golf tournament ever with its first tournament held in 1934. Taking place at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., many legendary golf moments have taken place and engraved there.
Tiger Woods’ impossible chip in on the 16th in 2005, Adam Scott sinking his final Putt on 18 to win in 2013 and you can’t beat hearing Jim Nantz saying “a tradition unlike any other” before the rounds begin. If you’ve never watched golf or aren’t a golf fan, this is the match to watch. It’s a great group of guys this year and there is always a chance for an upset.
There are many past champions in this tournament, old men and guys looking to make a name for themselves. Fred Couples is back in the field again with his last and only Masters win coming in 1992, and his last PGA Tour win coming in 2003. Couples is 58 years old and does have 13 wins since 2013 on the Senior PGA Tour but that means nothing to the young guys. It would be awesome to see Couples get another green jacket and a split of the $11 million purse but it is highly unlikely.
Woods and Phil Mickelson, who are both past champions, have been surrounded by talk recently.
Mickelson’s last Masters win came in 2010 and his last PGA Tour win was last month at the WGC-Mexico Championship. That was his first win in five years. Now Tiger, on the other hand, won his last Masters in 2005 and PGA Tour event in 2013.
Both Tiger and Phil have been consistent in that last handful of matches they’ve played. Augusta is not a short course totaling 7,435 yards. If they make the cut, which I imagine they would, it could be 72 holes of torture. Tiger struggles with injury more than Phil but constantly playing out of pine straw, high rough, trees, and sand is not good on the body. If either do make a push and win one of the four major championships again, I think it will be this one.
Then you have the young and proven players. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, last year’s champion Sergio Garcia and Hideki Matsuyama. Spieth does have a green jacket from 2015 when he tied the record for best score at 18-under-par, but he hasn’t won a tournament in almost a year. In 2016, he choked away back-to-back chances as he had a quadruple bogey on 12. He’s never played the same in The Masters since then.
Dustin, Justin, and Hideki have everything in their arsenal to take down this course. They have a great long game, finesse wedges perfectly, and accurate putting. Dustin missed last year’s Masters with a back problem and looks to add another major to his already impressive resume. If nerves can be controlled I wouldn’t be surprised to see their names at the top of the leaderboard to end Sunday.
Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and Rickie Fowler all have huge names in the sport but have one thing in common, they can’t win The Masters. They’ve all came close but can never finish. All McIlroy needs is a Masters win to complete his career grand slam (winning all four majors). He would join an elite group of six and that number could increase if Spieth wins the PGA Championship and if Mickelson can win the U.S. Open.