The time has finally arrived as Molinari, Finau and Woods take to the course for what will be an epic duel at Augusta National.
An earlier than normal tee time due to expected adverse weather from 2:30pm local time means than there were no lie-ins, with Tiger Woods setting his alarm for 3:45am, “To get this body ready to play.”
So what are we to expect? Well it’s safe to say that Mr. Consistency Molinari is unlikely to blow-up and post a big number somewhere, so whoever wants to win this tournament is going to have to post a low one to get past him.
Four of last five 54-hole leaders at Augusta National have gone on to win and Molinari is now a Major Champion having won The Open last year, where he played in the final group with none other than Tiger Woods. His game has been revolutionised since he took up with coach Denis Pugh and having lost 4.5 shots to the field in putting last year at the Masters he has also worked with Phil Kenyon with the resulting 80 putts over 54 holes here this week shows he has transformed that part of his game.
Not a prodigiously long player, Molinari is however consistently straight and he’s hit 33 of 42 fairways as well as 39 of 54 greens in regulation in his first three rounds. He won’t be intimidated by big hitting Woods and Finau either and in fact it may play to his strengths that he will be playing first into most of the greens.
As for Woods, we know what to expect. He is going to attack the course but he will be controlled in his play and will choose where he thinks are his best chances to make up some ground, notably the par 5’s as he bids to capture his 15thMajor title and his 5thGreen Jacket.
For Finau, this isn’t his first time in the final group of a major having been in this position at Shinnecock Hills last year. It didn’t go his way that day but the early tee time today may just help him as he doesn’t have to wait around all day to get on the course.
Finau will be realising a childhood dream when he takes to the tee with Tiger Woods, the man whose win at the Masters in 1997 motivated Finau to take up golf and while he won’t be in awe of Woods, he has described this opportunity as a dream come true.
Let’s not forget the chasing pack either, particularly Brooks Koepka who has won 3 of the last 6 Major titles, Webb Simpson is also a Major Champion and Ian Poulter is flying somewhat under the radar but if he can visualise this as a Ryder Cup singles match then we could easily see him atop the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
Put your phone on silent, disconnect the doorbell and get the beer in the cooler, it’s Sunday at the Masters!