Let’s get the basics out of the way. Tiger Woods has Masters title number five, major win number 15 and has joined Jack Nicklaus in elite company having won at least one Masters title in each of three decades. His Sunday triumph at Augusta was the first time he came from behind at 54 holes to win the green jacket. Notably the Nicklaus span of Masters wins is 1963-1986 and Woods is 1997-2019… and beyond?
At 13 under Woods prevailed in an early finish on Sunday at Augusta National after impending bad weather saw the tee times moved up and players going out in threesomes. This grouped Woods with Francesco Molinari (who had a two-shot lead after the third round) and prolific majors top ten performer from 2018 Tony Finau.
Patrick Cantlay held the lead for a brief period before several others tussled at the top on the run in only for Woods to have a two-stroke buffer with two to play before saulting by one stroke.
With plenty of carnage for the final two groups taking hold on the 12th it was a stunning 20 minutes or so to see four players Ian Poulter, Brooks Koepka followed by Finau and Molinari all find the water short of the green. The same hole that claimed Jordan Spieth in 2016 took the legitimate chances of multiple players on Sunday before the Tiger Roar engulfed the course over the final few holes as the chances of a victory, improbable only 18 months ago, became all but certain.
Greens in regulation
One of the great images from Sunday will be Woods hugging his son Charlie. Yes, he has won recently but both his children (including daughter Sam) haven’t seen him win a major, Woods noted they had teased him as ‘the YouTube golfer.’
As writer Kevin Van Valkenburg noted on Twitter Tiger has been ‘a prodigy, cautionary tale’ before producing ‘joy.’ His flaws (and there are many) and Van Valkenburg also astutely notes are relatable. The image with his son was relatable as was his note talking afterwards that “Sam lost a state soccer tournament yesterday so I sort of convinced them You want to come up to watch the Masters? I was lucky to be able to win.” Woods now humble, isn’t so robotic in those vulnerable moments as he had been previously.
One of the final notes of interest of Woods’ victory was him and Augusta Chairman Billy Payne sharing space in such a public stage at Butler Cabin and the outdoor presentation after Payne took the unprecedented step of lambasting Woods upon his return to the Masters in 2010 following his scandal-plagued period from the end of 2008. Payne, in part, said, “He disappointed all of us and more importantly our kids and grandkids…Is there a way forward? I hope so. I believe so.” Payne’s scolding of Woods would be mildly amusing if it wasn’t for the fact Woods has done so much for the tournament. Woods inspired many of the players he competed strongly with on Sunday (including Tony Finau and Xander Schaufelle,) Woods drives ratings, and his influence on majors and all of golf is this era is unrivalled.
Finally it’s worth remembering Payne did make those comments in 2010 nearly two years BEFORE Augusta National admitted its’ first female member. But, as Payne said in the same pre-tournament press conference in 2010 “We’re very secure in who we are… We do things our way.” Our way indeed.
14th at Harbour Town last year the Englishman produced an largely unnoticed T21 at the Master but that came after he fired 11 under par over the final three rounds to salvage an opening 78
Not only a winner already in 2019 the Northern Irishman won this event six years ago and having not played the Masters might work in his favour this week and several top hopes might have their spirit broken after letting chances slip to win a major.
Satoshi Kodiara was a course debutante when he won last year and Ancer at 60 in the world is ranked at a similar mark of Kodiara’s 46 having won at the back end 2018 as Kodiara had on the Japan tour in late 2017.
The Canadian returns to defend her title in Oahu Hawaii and despite the fact she is only 21 has already defended a title before winning in Portland in 2015 and 2016.
Feb 13: Nelly Korda win and Paul Dunne third.
Feb 20: Ledioda missed the cut and in Mexico Ancer (T39) was the best of the three.
Feb 27: Best two were Brooke Henderson (T15) after taking an eight on one of the par fives in her opening round and Harrison Endycott T17.
March 6: Matt Millar T23 in NZ was the best result in the tough weather on the South Island.
March 13 Justin Thomas T35 was the best of the TPC Sawgrass four.
March 20: Went off a week early with Kisner but in the Valspar Jon Rahm was T6 as the best result.
April 4: Matt Jones’ T30 was the best of the four options last week after Rahm’s T6 finish the week prior.
April 11: Xander Schauffele. T2 at his second Masters appearance is impressive a show well for the future.
Image via Time.com