It may not have been the result we all hoped for but as always, Augusta put on a spectacle to behold. By Paul Gallagher
If any typos seep their way through and onto these digital pages it’s because this latest instalment was compiled on Portuguese shores while celebrating birthdays, golfing, consuming cold ones and of course glued to wall to wall coverage of the Masters.
Not sure how you all feel, but it’s still too raw to fully digest. Four feet of prime golfing real estate and one shaky stroke became the pivotal moment of Rory McIlroy’s 2018 US Masters.
If the Holywood star drained his eagle putt at the par five second at Augusta, I firmly believe it would have given him the momentum to kick-on in that borderline cocky, yet sublime, manner in which we all know he can play. Instead, underlying frailties bubbled to the surface once more to cruelly end this particular chance of golfing immortality.
There will be other opportunities to don the Green Jacket and complete the Grand Slam but any psychological issues must be nipped in the bud right away before further scar tissue ruins future Masters chances for this most talented of golfers.
McIlroy’s Masters shakedown will continue in the coming days and weeks; everyone has an opinion and the debriefs and expert analysis from the sidelines will continue. At the end of the day, McIlroy will do what he thinks is right for him.
This year’s Masters was utterly compelling from start to finish. It always delivers. We might not always get the results and outcomes we desire but twists and turns down Magnolia Lane make for compulsive viewing.
The Masters not only marks the official start of the season (alongside keeping an eye on results from the West) but is one of the few tournaments that reaches out to a wider audience, to non-golfers. And that is a very good thing for the game.
Part of the preamble saw the kids take to the hallowed turf for The Drive, Chip and Putt competition, which was another master stroke for celebrating junior golf and providing young memories that will last a lifetime.
Pristine fairways, treacherous greens and the Augusta idyll, sometimes referred to as “heaven on earth” simply draws people in and holds our focus for hours on end. No other tournament has the same magnetism.
The season’s first Major is played at the same venue, so we are all familiar with it. Augusta is a place most people will never have been to, yet it’s a venue we all know so well. A certain Sunday evening in April is always kept free to watch the Augusta action unfold.
My earliest recollection is 1987 when Larry Mize holed that chip on 11 to win the playoff against Greg Norman when I was 12. I don’t remember anything about Jack Nicklaus’ win the year before but was glued from ’88 onwards when the European contingent of Lyle, Faldo, Woosnam, Langer and Olazabal dominated in pre-Tiger times.
I’ll never forget sitting up with my folks watching Sandy Lyle’s seven-iron from the glistening white sand in 1988 or Woosie’s tartan red pants and that striding fist pump in 1991. Masters memories remain some of the most vivid.
On this occasion I had hoped to celebrate another year on the clock by raising a glass to a McIlroy win, while with friends on a golfing trip in Vilamoura. It wasn’t to be, but hopefully there will be other times to celebrate a McIlroy win at Augusta.