Will Augusta’s Irish weather finally bring an Irish Masters winner?

Ronan MacNamara

Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, amateur Matthew McClean and Rory McIlroy on the Hogan Bridge (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Last month was the wettest March on record in Ireland, after February was the fourth driest in the history of this country. Climate change eh?

It appears the sequence of our March washouts has ventured westwards, across the Atlantic and by Saturday morning it will have unleashed all of its thundering rage on Augusta National.

Whisper it quietly, but there could be a first Monday finish for all of 40 years…


The weekend will be defined by Irish weather. So, will it yield a first Irish winner?

Rain is a guarantee on Saturday with temperatures set to plummet a whopping 13 degrees from Thursday. Thunderstorms provide an existential threat, like Kylian Mbappe at the Aviva Stadium, not an immediate threat but you don’t dare take the chance.

A significant portion of the field is set to be ruled out of contention by the elements over the weekend which by then will have rendered Augusta tailor-made for Rory McIlroy as the course softens and lengthens.

Shane Lowry boasts three standout wins in his career so far. the 2015 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, the 2009 Irish Open (as an amateur) and of course, the 2019 Open Championship. What do they all have in common?

It pissed rain.

Lowry is a proven bad weather golfer and his ability to hit fairways and find the heart of the green on tough golf courses gives him the artillery to go toe to toe with Mother Nature.

The Offaly man possesses the midas touch around the greens, although what happens on the greens has proven his downfall this term.

Lowry was third here last year, his chances scuppered by a fourth hole triple bogey in the final round but after flattering to deceive on his previous trips down Magnolia Lane, he looks to have found the magic formula.

Lots has changed for Lowry in the interim 12 months, he’s won at Wentworth but split from his long-time looper Bo Martin in January, with his tee shot to the fourth hole in Augusta seemingly the root of the problem – Martin will caddie for Tyrrell Hatton this week.

Lowry’s iron play is his strength and he is one of the leaders when it comes to strokes gained approach at Augusta.

Everything feels primed for McIlroy to finally, finally banish his Augusta demons and punch a ticket to golf’s most exclusive club.

The career grand slam is within touching distance for the Holywood native.

Augusta is tailor-made for him. His beautiful high draw and towering iron shots are the ideal formula for golf’s crown jewel, seven Masters top-10 finishes without the ONE.

Now a seasoned veteran at Augusta, McIlroy will be teeing it up in his quest for a green jacket for the 15th time. Surely his course knowledge will come to fruition?

Well… Familiarity brings suspense and scar tissue at the Masters. Only two players have won their first Masters after at least 15 attempts, Mark O’Meara and Sergio Garcia.

The 33-year-old has been fielding questions about winning the career grand slam since lifting the PGA Championship in 2014. In fact, the major he was destined to win first is the one he is yet to claim.

The narrative is that McIlroy has the best chance he has ever had around Washington Road but at almost every turn at Augusta there is a memory of what might have been for him. Like he has just come out of a long term relationship and everything he sees, smells and hears reminds him of her.

However, last year’s stunning Sunday 64 has perhaps seen him shake the shackles that only this baffling sport can have on someone and he arrived at this year’s Masters with a smile on his face and a quietly confident swagger.

When the gun goes off this evening, how he responds will tell a lot.

Seamus Power impressed on his debut last year with a top-30 finish and he is gunning for better this week.

The two-time PGA Tour winner is playing in just his fifth major championship but the Waterford man sees it as no reason to shy away from ambition.

“Game feels in a really good spot, so going to be a lot of preparation the next couple days and just try to give myself a chance going into Sunday,” he says. “I think that is what everyone is going to try to do, you know, on the back nine Sunday.

“Being in one of the last groups going into Sunday really give yourself a chance and see what happens.”

No Irish player has ever won the Masters, no Irish player has ever won the Low Amateur prize which incidentally hasn’t been won since Andy Ogletree in 2020.

Might a slice of history belong to Malone’s Matthew McClean?

“Can you go out and win it? Realistically, no. I don’t think there is any point in saying I can win, you have to live in reality,” said McClean.

“That’s not the goal for the week. There is six or seven amateurs playing. The goal is make the cut, to be there for the Saturday and Sunday. And then what comes with that is trying to win the low amateur. That’s my tournament.”

The fact Ireland has four golfers in the Masters for the second successive year is a brilliant achievement but can we go the full hog?

Will Irish golf be singing in the rain?

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