Scheffler leads a changing of the guard at Augusta National

Peter Finnan

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Peter Finnan

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As the 2024 Masters enters its final day, i feel a sense of something momentous happening at the top of the game. Yes, roars echoed through the Georgia pines, breath-taking shots were played, and patrons donned their finest green attire. But beneath the familiar charm, a subtle shift seemed to be taking place – a changing of the guard, if you will.

For the past decade and a half, golf has been enthralled by a generation of superstars – McIlroy, Johnson, Spieth, Thomas all names synonymous with multiple Major victories and each enjoyed periods of dominance as world number ones. It seems like only yesterday they took the baton themselves from Woods and Mickelson who dominated the 2000’s. At the top of any sport however, evolution is key and this week at Augusta National I feel a sense of vulnerability has hung around the old guard. Their once untouchable dominance seems to be waning, replaced by the relentless rise of a new breed.

Scheffler, Morikawa, Aberg, Homa, Hojgaard none of which had Tour cards five years ago are not here just to take part, it seems they are here to take over. As we face into Sunday at The Masters all five – still in their mid 20’s are poised to pounce and become a Masters Champion.

The new guard doesn’t seem burdened by the weight of expectation or the scars of past failures. All five play with a carefree attitude even under the most intense spotlight.

This isn’t to say the established guard is fading entirely. Yes, Rory will have plenty more chances to complete the Slam and Tiger’s record-breaking cut streak is a testament to his enduring legacy. But even Woods, with his sheer willpower, couldn’t quite keep pace with the sheer firepower of the next generation.

Of course, questions remain. Will this new breed struggle as they accumulate experience and taste defeat? Will the thrill of their fearlessness fade? Only time will tell. But one thing is certain – the 2024 Masters feels like a turning point. The future of golf is here, it’s long, it’s loud, and it’s rewriting the script.

Over the last three years lines have been drawn and divisions set at the top of the professional game. It has made us question the morals and motives of the current crop as some chose financial gain over legacy. No matter what side of the fence they lay, this new generation seem ready to take over. Be it Scheffler chasing his second Green Jacket, Morikawa chasing his third Major or Aberg looking to taste Major glory at his first attempt, Sunday at The Masters promises to open the next chapter on golf’s future.

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