The 86th Masters is the first major on the PGA Tour. It comes every April as spring begins. It is so good to see the azaleas and how beautiful Augusta National is. The tournament was invited by Booby Jones who also is the architect of Augusta. For the first five years, the tournament was called the Augusta National Invitational. The tournament always starts with a ceremonial tee shot from the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Arnold Palmer. Since Arnie has passed away, they brought in Lee Elder to fill the spot. Elder was the first African American to play in the Masters. Mr. Elder passed away recently so this year it was Player, Nicklaus, and Tom Watson who have won the tournament multiple times. Hideki Matsuyama, the defending champion, had a stellar champions’ dinner that included authentic sushi, wagyu beef, and a Japanese strawberry shortcake.
The biggest story before round one started is whether Tiger Woods was going to make a comeback at the Masters. That answer was made on Wednesday as Tiger announced he was coming back after a 14-month absence. Woods was involved in a horrific car accident that caused multiple injuries including a broken leg. He mentioned that his swing was there, but would his leg be able to carry him for a 72-hole tournament. In round one he shot a one-under-par round of 71. At times he looked like a vintage Tiger with the fist pumps. Multiple players like Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, and Brooks Koepka all struggled in round one. They all shot rounds over par which in some cases are hard to come back from. Sung-Jae Im was the first South Korean-born player to lead the Masters shooting a five-under-par 67.
Round two began with Im still leading. The biggest question to start the day was how Tiger’s leg was and would he make the cut. Well, it will not go down as one of the better performances by Woods as he shot 74 but he made the cut being at one over par for the tournament. By the end of the day names like Bryson Dechambeau, Jordan Spieth, and Brooks Koepka all missed the cut and watched the tournament from home. There was a new leader in Scottie Scheffler, the number one ranked player in the world. Scheffler shot a 67 and held a five-shot lead over four players including Matsuyama. I think that Woods playing the weekend was a great comeback story after his accident. The field was set, and it was an exciting weekend at Augusta National and the Masters.
Round three did not start with any excitement. It took near the end of the group going out when Justin Thomas made a move but at the end of his round shot an even-par 72. He sat eight shots behind the second-round leader Scheffler. So far, he had everything going his way. Despite only shooting a one-under-par 71 in round three. He still held a three-shot lead over Cameron Smith who shot a 68. Smith had a cool look with his mullet and his mustache looking like Joe Dirt. The biggest story was Tiger Woods. He had his worst round ever in his Masters career shooting a 78, six over round. He was 17 shots back of Scheffler. It would have been cool to see him win and contend. First-round leader Sungjae Im was only five back heading into the final round.
The final round of any major is always exciting. The final run of the Masters did not disappoint. Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith were in the final group out. Many eyes were still on Tiger Woods after the worse round in his career happened on Saturday. Well, he shot another 78 and finished the tournament 13 over par. He was noticeably limping after he finished. Woods came out and committed to playing the Open Championship the final major of the year. The other two he is unsure about. Scheffler stayed solid through his final round and did not allow the pressure to get to him. After the Amen Corner, Smith was done for the tournament. He hit his ball in the water on the par 3 12th hole and he hit some bad shots after that.
Some exciting moments were the group of Rory McIlory and Colin Morikawa as both hit into the greenside bunker at 18 and then both holed out from the bunker to get the crowd excited. As the final group came to the final hole, Scheffler had a four-shot lead but he made a double bogey but still walked away with the green jacket. Last year’s winner, Hideki Matsuyama, presented and put on the green jacket for Scheffler. He is one of five players to be the number one player in the world to win the Masters. McIlroy finished second and the Masters is still the only one of the four majors he has never won. To me, this was an exciting way to start the majors off in golf. I also have to say it was great to see Tiger back and now we move on to the PGA Championship in mid-May.
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