We’re due a great Masters, so here’s hoping

Mark McGowan

The crowd erupts on 18 as Rory McIlroy holes from the bunker (Photo: Scott K. Brown/Masters Media)

Mark McGowan

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Rahm won by four last year, Scheffler four-putted the final green and still won by three in 2022. Matsuyama had the luxury of being able to bogey three of the last four and still win in ’21, and Dustin Johnson sauntered off to win by five in 2020. The last Masters that was particularly close coming down the stretch was the 2019 edition, but even then, Tiger could safely bogey the last and still win by one.

Basically, what I’m saying is, we’re due a grandstand Masters finish. Not that Woods’ win wasn’t among the sporting highlights of the decade, but had he had to make par on the last, had he needed to cut that iron shot around the tree on the right side of the fairway and onto the green, to pitch that third shot in close, or to hole that 15-footer, it would’ve been even better.

The old adage: “The Masters doesn’t begin until the back nine on Sunday” may have stemmed from a time when the back nine was all that seen and the Sunday broadcast was the one most tuned in to, but it’s seldom been more irrelevant than it has in recent years.

Don’t get me wrong, if it’s McIlroy, Lowry or even Woods that’s in front, I’ll gladly take a back nine procession but if none of these three are in the equation, make it tight. Give me half-a-dozen guys battling it out, where each birdie is monumental and each bogey soul-destroying. Give me somebody going eagle-birdie on 15 and 16 to come racing from behind and join the hunt.

Give me Greg Norman on the 18th vibes where somebody practically shanks one miles right and needs an outrageous up-and-down to get into a playoff (spoiler alert, he didn’t), give me somebody needing the Sandy Lyle bunker shot, the Phil Mickelson putt, the Larry Mize chip-in….

Give me the Schwartzel final four holes, the Nicklaus final nine, the Sarazen ‘shot heard round the world’. Give me the Tiger chip on 16, the Rory bunker shot on the last (but have it mean something more than solo second), the Norman collapse….

Above all else, give me drama.

The Masters is the tournament most looked forward to, the tournament most watched and the tournament most coveted by the game’s elite players. We need look no further than Jon Rahm for proof of that when he said earlier this week that the leap from having no majors to having a US Open title was nothing compared to the leap from being a US Open winner to a Masters champion.

As men’s professional golf continues to be blighted by bickering, by separation and by greed, the players’ have prospered financially while us, the fans, have been the ones to suffer.

So give us a great Masters – a Masters for the ages. It’s the least we deserve.

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