An exciting weekend it was, essentially a match play format in the end, Sergio Garcia is your 2017 Master Champion. The Spaniard final got his major. It’s about time he got one.
Here are the Flops and Gimme’s:
Phil Mickelson: The beloved American was seeking to become the oldest Master’s winner ever. Approaching his 47th birthday in June, Mickelson entered the weekend four strokes off the lead. After two early birdies on the first and second on Saturday, Phil was in the thick of it. Sadly, lefty played the next seven holes at 5-over par that really derailed any moving day momentum he might have had. On a day where so many were moving up, Mickelson was moving down. Phil shot 74-72 for a 2-over weekend, ultimately leaving him in a tie for 22nd. Not the weekend performance Phil would have liked to produce.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler in Sunday’s penultimate pairing: Arguably the more exciting of the last two tee times, many pegged Spieth or Fowler as the eventual winner on Sunday afternoon. After comments about “Jordan-proofing” Augusta, Spieth looked eager and poised to come out guns blazing. He did quite the opposite. Loose tee shots and approaches led to a round that was defined by five bogeys and a double. Certainly not earning the roars so many were hoping to give. Similarly, Fowler who was donning his classic Sunday orange, just never got it going. It was there for the taking. After birdie on No. 3, everyone was ready for him to lead a charge. Sadly it didn’t pan out. With the result, Rickie now becomes the best player to not win a major. Hopefully he doesn’t wait as long as Sergio did.
Justin Rose: It would be easy to categorize his eventual Sunday outcome as a flop. After Sergio Garcia caught the trees left on 13 leaving himself an unplayable, Rose looked like he was going to be able to turn on cruise control and ride out the back-nine. Missed putts on 11, 13 and 17 let the Englishman down during the final round. Yet, since 2009, Rose has finished inside the top-25 in all eight of his Masters starts, four of those being top-10s, two being top-3s. Rose referenced it in his post round interview on Sunday, he believes he can win at Augusta. Despite being 36 years of age, Rose showed yet again that he has got the game to win there and it should surprise no one to see him contend or slip into a green jacket over the next few years.
Spain: Everything fell into place for a big celebration in Spain on Sunday. Sergio Garcia at long last claimed his major championship after years of coming close and contending. The raw emotion that he expressed on the No. 18 green after sinking his clinching birdie putt was truly remarkable. A (major) weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Sergio’s most notably made eagle on the par-5 No. 15 en route to forcing a playoff. Who was the last man to eagle the No. 15 during the final round and win The Masters? Jose Maria Olazabal in 1994, Sergio’s fellow countryman and idol. Furthermore, April 9, 2017, would have been Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday. No better day for Sergio to win his elusive major. Vamos!
Big-Hag: Shout out to amateur golfers everywhere. We all have the same amount of majors as Rickie. Stewart Hagestad earned low amateur honors this weekend at Augusta. After not carding a single double bogey all week, “Big Hag” (standing at 6’5”) showed that he could hang with the big boys this week. Giving gracious speeches both in Butlers Cabin and during the outdoor presentation, Hagestad became the first Mid-Amateur champion to take home low amateur honors at Augusta. Despite a successful career off the links, after a performance like that, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to be hearing his name again in the near future.
Now casual golf fans can twiddle their thumbs until the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in June. But there is always