Major golfing event arrives

Posted: April 11, 2014 in Golf
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The first major of the year has arrived. The only major always played at the same venue, the Masters is a truly unique golf tournament. I can’t claim to be a golf fanatic. The fact that I have a vicious left hook that I can’t seem to fix certainly doesn’t help. But like many others it is hard not to get caught up in everything that the Masters is.

As an Australian the Masters had begun to feel like it was the one we might never win. Many had come close, but close doesn’t cut it. Darkness was closing and Adam Scott succeeded to become the first Australian to clinch the green jacket (the fabled prize awarded to the winner) in 2013. When Scott rolled in his putt to beat Angel Carbrera in a play-off he etched himself into Australian sporting history. Quite simply he broke Australia’s duck at golf’s most prestigious tournament.

For many of the world’s top players it has been a tough start to 2014. Henrik Stenson took all before him in the latter part of 2013 but has found the going far more difficult in 2014. Scott has played well and looked a winner in his most recent tournament a couple of weeks ago before fading. Mickelson and Day have both endured injury problems. And Tiger Woods is out injured. I read an amazing statistic a couple of days ago (but can’t find it now) regarding the number of winners this season. There have been about 21 different winners in the 24 tournaments so far. That alone shows how open the 2014 Masters is.

Most commentators, and even players, believe it takes a golfer time to get to know the undulations, best approaches and greens at Augusta. Since 1935 only Fuzzy Zoeller has won the Masters on his first visit in 1979. It is this fact that led Englishman Luke Donald to all but rule out the 24 first-timers teeing off at Augusta this year. It is also very difficult to go back to back, as Scott will be aiming to do. If he wins Scott will join Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicolas. Not bad company.

While a golf tournament can’t be won on the first day it can certainly be lost. And after day 1 plenty will be ruing their slow starts. Bill Haas (4 under) won’t be one of those as he has the Clubhouse lead after day 1 of a major for the first time in his career. Haas is followed closely by three players who have enjoyed great results at Augusta over the last couple of years. Bubba Watson (2012 Champion), Louis Oosthuizen (2012 runner-up) and Adam Scott (2013 Champion) are tied at 3 under after carding 69’s. They were the only players to break 70 on the first day.

Jimmy Walker is the best placed of the first-timers and he sits in a tie for fifth after a solid 2 under 70. One further back is the man who started joint favourite, Rory Mcllroy. It’s easy to forget that he is only 24. He has experience at the Masters and will no doubt be hoping to make amends for his final round 80 in 2011 after starting the final round with a four shot lead.

Those with their work cut out for them now include Day (3 over), Mickelson (4 over), Cabrera (6 over) and Donald (7 over). But they are certainly not alone as many struggled with the tricky course on the opening day.


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