A collection of golf news and notes, and thoughts from the week as Spain’s Sergio Garcia won The Masters. The 37 year-old beat Olympic champ Justin Rose, 36, in a playoff at Augusta.
Death, taxes and Sergio Garcia not winning a major. The last item an insert in sporting chat since just before the turn of the century the year. The Spaniard was just not mentally tough enough down the stretch to win a major, no matter the multiple tournament victories, Ryder Cup and other team golf triumphs nothing was going to be enough to fill the space and the unfulfilled talent was going to be that, unfulfilled, Sergio himself told us in recent years. It was ironic that a virtual match-play type environment when he went shot for shot with Rose down the back nine at August and then for a 73rd hole before Danny Willett gave him the green jacket. Once the Borriol-born player relinquished a three-shot lead to Rose it appeared his charge was doomed and that perhaps even Thomas Pieters or former winner Charl Schwartzel might be the ones to challenge Rose.
In the wake of the controversy in the first women’s major of 2017, the ANA Inspiration, there was a brief period of possible drama for Garcia on the 13th hole when he had to take a drop. After taking what was his third shot, for the second week running a viewer contacted course officials, but upon review tournament bosses ruled Garcia did not move the ball the when shifting some of the nearby pine needles. Crisis averted for what would have been the fourth dramatic penalty incident in a men or women’s major in the last 12 months.
Garcia’s triumph was his second for 2017, moves him up to world number seven in the rankings and is his tenth victory since 2011.
Player performance notes:
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me related to capital investment if that’s your thing. This weekend the Harbour Town Golf Links hosts the RBC Heritage event on the PGA Tour – the event was won in 2016 by South African Brandan Grace.
Under 20: Matt Kuchar. The 2014 winner produced an ace to flirt with the top few late at Augusta on Sunday and has two top ten finishes in 2017 to his credit. Has an early tee time (8am) on Thursday to try to set the pace.
20 to 50: Tyrell Hatton. The World number 16 missed the cut at the Masters but before that hadn’t finished worse than T17 in his last seven starts. The Englishman is slowly adapting to playing in the USA as evidenced by his T4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
20 to 50: Charley Hoffman. Like the Masters Hoffman started well here last year going 68-68 before he packed it in on the weekend going 71-75. His best here would have Hoffman a huge chance.
20 to 50: William McGirt. Second after the first round of the Masters before he finished T22 McGirt went out in the recent Match Play round of 16 but was T9 here last year.
50 to 100: Aaron Baddeley. Looking to build on Marc Leishman’s recent win fellow Australian Baddeley, a former winner here, who was also T9 last year looks good when you consider that 2016 performance was coming off a missed cut at the Houston Open. This year he finished T15 in Houston a fortnight ago.
50 to 100: Danny Lee. The Kiwi has finished inside the top 25 at three of his last four starts. The last of those was the Houston Open when he fired a consistent 69-69-72-72. A vast improvement on run of five tournaments which saw him miss four cuts and plus have a withdrawal.
Greens in regulation
After 74 attempts to win a major Garcia has got the monkey off his back so who is next? Garcia’s streak was as much a burden as it was a show of his consistency in terms of showing up at events and keeping his body in condition to play at the top level. Even Brandt Snedeker, one year Garcia’s junior and the world number 25, has only played 38 majors. Snedeker (who has contended in the Masters notably when T3 in 2008 when Trevor Immelman won) could be the next of the ‘veterans’ to break his duck. As for the current rankings, a quick glance shows us Hideki Matsuyama (four) is the highest ranked yet to win a major. Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas, nine and ten, respectively also don’t have a major yet. Of the top ten five of them have won ‘only’ one major. From the top ten I’d go for Japan’s Matsuyama to be the next to break his major duck, Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed from 11-20 would be my pick in that bracket and Belgian long-hitter Thomas Pieters in the 21-30 range along-with Snedeker. For a speculative pick outside the top 100 I’ll go for Taiwanese golfer CT Pan. A solid Web.com performer now on the PGA – the 25 year-old has risen to inside the top 200 since 2016 and has gone close to winning on the PGA Tour.
Elsewhere this week the LPGA resumes after the controversy of So Yeon Ryu’s ANA Inspiration triumph with the field teeing it up in Oahu as Australian Minjee Lee attempts to defend the crown she won last year in the Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club. It doesn’t have the prestige of Augusta National, the home of the Masters, but the European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II event is at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Morocco. The tournament, won by South Korean Jeunghun Wang in a playoff last year, is staged at what is the only golf course in the city of Rabat (home to around 600,000 people with a broader metro population of over 1 million) and includes Roman column ruins on some of the holes.
Image via cnn.com