Following The Masters
Sport Eagle’s Craig White recaps the action from Augusta National
Day Four – Bubba’s Tears of Green
At the start of the day it seemed only five golfers would have any chance to win the gold, or green in the case of The Masters. It ended in a playoff with a golfer surpassing everyone’s expectations.
Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Pagraig Harrington all fell short after valiant attempts. All starting their rounds strong and trying to pressure the leaders. Each man playing aggressive golf and creating birdie after birdie, however it wasn’t to be.
Phil Mickelson and Peter Hanson started in prime position but as the day went on, they both seemingly cracked. Although it is certain once they have time to reflect, they will both be happy where they finished especially when you consider their form coming into the event.
The most exciting competitive pair of the day was Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen, the pair that would produce a winner. Early on Oosthuizen produced a tournament winning shot with an eagle on the 2nd hole, becoming the first player in history to archive such a feat on the course. However, this didn’t faze the energetic Bubba. He created four consecutive birdie chances in the back nine and kept himself in the running.
Coming down the final stretch, it was in the hands of Bubba and Louis, question of who wanted it more. On the final hole, after a good drive the South African hit a majestic iron onto the green, leaving him with a good birdie chance. However, Bubba wasn’t going to be out done and produced a fine second shot himself leaving him with a birdie chance. Who would hold their nerve, neither, thus we head to a playoff.
First extra hole was the 18th, each man showing real courage and using a driver, their aggressive shots rewarded as they flew straight down the middle if the fairway. Could the two be separated? No, both hit good irons to the green and two-putting. Then they took the short walk to the 10th and the second extra hole. And this is where the playoff came to life, both golfers hit terrible drives. Each man with difficult second shots to the green, would they even find the green or would one of the players produce a master stroke and win?
Up steps Bubba, he had trees on either side of him, a gap of maybe 7-feet and over-handing trees aiming him well left of the green. The American assesses the situation he is in, then steps forward and huts the perfect draw. The fans watch in anticipation and wow, was it worth the wait. He just played a shot worthy of winning any event in golf. Louis wasn’t so lucky and only managed a five leaving Bubba with two putts to win, which he duly accepted to win his first major, the major that most considered the hardest to capture.
Bubba is The Masters champion 2012, he had managed to control his nervous energy, he had managed to come through a playoff. In the clubhouse to accept his well-deserved member’s jacket, the American finally had the chance to release some of the energy and emotions. He expressed how excited he was to be able to go home to his wife and 5-week-old first-born son. With regards to the American’s career going forward, he will certainly be pushed up the world rankings and now has the experience to challenge and win future majors.
Day Three – The Hanson and Mickelson show.
At the start of day 3, there were a number of players who could put themselves in contention for the green jacket. However by the end of the day, its seems like two players have the trophy in their sight. Mickelson, who ended day 2, with the fans and momentum behind him, started like a freight train, created birdie chances at will and the American certainly took advantage from his opportunity.
Hanson who is currently Sweden’s number one performed as if he was always challenging for Majors, demonstrating consistency off the tee and getting to greens in regulation. Both players showing controlled aggression, finishing the day at the top of the leaderboard going into day 4.
Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen both managed to grind out good scores having not played their best golf, although they sit in a good position leading into last round. Can Louis reproduce the form which took him to his first Major or would Bubba be able to take control of his nervous energy going down the closing stretch? It will be answered on Sunday.
Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy all had terrible rounds, Woods just appeared to struggle like he did on day one, lack of consistency and the inability to one-putt seems to have left him too much to do this year. Jack Nicholas’s record of 18 Majors appears safe for now.
Garcia and McIlroy played together, Garcia seems to lose his spark from day two and McIlroy showed amateur golfers that the pros even have off-days. They tried everything to improve their rounds, and both secured birdies at the 11th. Then Garcia decided a group hug with McIlroy would kick start both their rounds. However it certainly, didn’t work and all three have a mountain to climb on Sunday.
Lee Westwood’s day hasn’t been straight forward. His start was slow, although it did pick up in the middle of the first nine holes but he continued to be inconsistent for the rest of the day. Lucky, his performance over last holes allowed him to be pretty close to the top on the leader board in contention for the last day.
Martin Kaymer is sure to be happy, he made the cut. His play on day three hasn’t been as good as we were expecting and thing went from bad to worse for the German which made his chances of winning the green jacket virtually impossible this year.
Five players appear to have a chance of clinching the season’s first Major, however as to who has the ability and the strength of mind will be determined over the last day.
Day Two Moving Day at Augusta
Conditions were good which gave all the players the opportunity to shoot low scores and book a place for the weekend. What was intriguing, would anyone decide to make their run for glory now, like previous winner Tiger Woods, or did the players want to play within themselves to make the cut.
Martin Kaymer chose the latter, having failed to make the cut in any of his masters appearances so far. He certainly played up to his nickname “Ice Cool” and took the opportunity when it arose to make low score or recover, he finished on level par and breaks his Masters duck.
On the whole the European contingent seemed to cope with the course conditions better. Lee Westwood produced an inspired performance using his skills that come naturally: controlled golf and then attacking the easier flags when the chance is there. He went back to the style that took him to number 1 in the world last year, sinking putts from inside 10 feet as if they were only two inches away. The Brit who has never won a major will need to take control on day three and push on from there.
Of the Americans, Bubba Watson was creating magic; the lefty was moving the ball around the course as if the ball was pre-programmed. Maybe it’s his natural draw that gives the American the edge. He is in an ideal position for the weekend. The question – can the American hold his nervous energy especially being such a hyper individual?
The battle of the two prodigies failed to live up to expectations. Both, woods and Rory MIlroy played some exuberant golf at times, and on a few occasions it appeared as if either man could take advantage of the course and conditions. However the pressure of the event or their personal duel seemed to get the better of them, both are in good position to try and make their move Saturday.
Looking up, Fred Couples and Sergio Garcia showed us some of their class. Both the American and Spaniard making the course look easy, good straight drives, greens in regulation and one-putting. Whether or not Freddy’s age will catch up with him or Sergio loses concentration remains to be seen but they both make the cut for the last 36 holes.
Crowd favourite, Phil Mickelson, had a pretty good day even if considered slightly erratic. However, he improves at the right time. Although the three-time Green Jacket winner started slow, he finished strong and had the fans and momentum at the end of the round, if Phil could have played the last two rounds today then I’m sure he would. Once he gets in this position then he’s normally in the running for a title.
The tournament hasn’t really shone as yet but with the weekend lineup it’s sure to produce fireworks.
Day One of The Masters produced some interesting scores.
Martin Kaymer had a streaky first round of 72 thus putting him in great shape to make the cut. Lee Westwood produced the round of the day, with a 5 under-par 67. He demonstrated tremendous ball striking from tee to green and sublime touch on or around the green.
However, Henrik Stenson was on 6 under at the 15th but finished with a triple bogey to end the round on 71. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both had indifferent rounds and will not be happy to be back in the clubhouse. Neither player seemed able to strike the ball as cleanly as they can or should to win the event.
The weather the two days leading up to the event was wet, this seemed to play into the Europeans’ hands who dealt with the conditions better, the leader board proves this notion. Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson were two exceptions. Oosthuizen finished 4 under having played some of his best golf since the South African won his only major the 2010 Open Championship. While Watson gave the Americans something to cheer with probably the most creative round of the day because of the vast amount of movement he gets on the ball.
What I am certain of is that the event is set up perfectly for next 3 days. The Green Jacket is there for the taking!
Stay with Sport Eagle for up-to-date news regarding Martin’s, Tiger’s and the field’s progress during The Masters. Craig White (@Cags_SportEagle) and Salman Mitha (@Sal_SportEagle) will be tweeting during the year’s first major.