The Masters: A look back at an Epic 2018 Tournament
As the calendar rolls around to the month of April so too begins the PGA Tour major golf schedule. The Masters is what starts it all. A tournament invented by what might be considered the greatest golfer of all time Bobby Jones. The course that the tournament is played on also was founded by Jones he named it Augusta National.
The winner receives two trophies; one is a replica of the clubhouse the other is the famous green jacket. The winner also will choose a champions dinner where all the past champions can attend. 2018 was one to remember with Tiger Woods playing in the tournament for the first time in many years.
The tournament begins on Wednesday with a fun par 3 contest. Every player is invited to play. Most of them will bring their families, girlfriends or wives. There is what they call a curse. The player that wins the Par 3 has never won the tournament. In this year’s par 3, the legends of the game were the headline. The threesome of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tom Watson shows signs of their past dominance.
Tom Watson would go on to win the par 3 but was not playing in the tournament. On the 8th hole, Jack Nicklaus grandson hits his first ever hole in one and the future looks bright for him. Another bright moment in the par 3 contest was Tony Finau would dislocate his ankle but be still able to play.
The first round begins with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player tee off. It used to be Arnold Palmer but he passed away and they are trying to find a replacement for him. After the two tee off, the commissioner of Augusta National announces the Masters has officially begun. Leading up to the start the talk was Tiger. He started his day on the driving range and people started to pay attention. The course on day 1 was in great shape to go out and score. So, many of the players took advantage of it.
Former champion Jordan Speith took the first round lead while Tiger struggled. Tony Finau who dislocated his ankle in the par 3 would go on to shoot a 4 under first round. One tragic event that happened, defending champion Sergio Garcia took a 13 on the 15th hole hitting many balls in the water.
As the second round began the course became harder. The winds that howl around Augusta National started to show their teeth. Most of the players made adjustments. Some of the top players didn’t make those adjustments. Woods, Mickelson, and Garcia struggled. After the tragic event in the first round, the defending champ missed the cut. Woods and Mickelson made the cut but barely.
The third round brought other stars on the tour to the top. Those stars like Rory Mcilroy and Rickie Fowler. Both of them had great starts to the third round which propelled them up the leaderboard. While Woods and Mickelson continue to struggle. Mickelson had issues in the trees where he whiffed a shot.
On the other hand, he hit a driver off the fairway from 298 yards and then made the putt for an eagle. Another rising star Tommy Fleetwood had a great back nine that put him in the driver’s seat as he climbed up the leaderboard.
As the final round began a not so familiar name was at the top of the leaderboard. He had been there since the end of the second round that name is Patrick Reed. In the third round, Reed eagled both the par 5’s to take the lead in the final round. Now the final pairing was Mcilroy and Reed. These two had past history at the 2016 Ryder Cup. They were the first pairing out in Sunday singles and they went back and forth at each other. As they started their final round Mickelson and Woods were finishing Mickelson finished 2 over and Woods finished 1 over. Woods said that he would have like to The Masters at even par. Nonetheless, he bogeyed the last hole or he would have achieved that goal.
Speith, Reed, Mcilroy, and Fowler all were making their moves to try to win the green jacket. Other stars like Hoffman, Fleetwood, and Casey also had their moments. Hoffman had an ace on the par 3 16th but not the traditional way. Most players use the slope as it tracks towards the hole. Hoffman’s ball hit just over the bunker and rolled into the hole.
Paul Casey set a record for going five straight holes with a birdie or better. Casey had just recently won the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, FL. Speith brought his A game and shot a final round 64. Thus, giving Mcilroy and Reed something to think about. Fowler was in the group in front of Reed and Mcilroy. He also posted a great final round. Reed never seemed to let the pressure bother him. However, Mcilroy faltered down the stretch and would now have to wait till next year Masters to finish the career grand slam.
Reed stood over his par putt on the final hole and sank it finishing two shots ahead of Speith and one head of Fowler. This was Reed’s first major and he made his mark moving forward. His best finish in a major prior to The Masters was runner-up to Justin Thomas in last year final major, The PGA. Speaking of Justin Thomas, who I picked to win, he finished middle of the pack but he still considered a rising star.