2018 saw its first golfing major of the year, as players from around the globe gathered at the fabled Augusta in the state of Georgia to take part in the Masters tournament and compete for the much sought-after green jacket. This year saw its fair share of movement throughout the weekend, the return of Tiger Woods, slips and trips, hole in ones and some truly memorable displays of golf from world-class players. However, on the evening of Sunday 8th April, the golfing world welcomed its latest major winner and recipient of his first green jacket.
The week’s action began with the traditional Par 3 Contest on Wednesday, where players tend to try and relax before the tournament begins. Children dress up as caddies, spouses accompany their partners down the course and it is a fun way to unwind before the serious golfing business starts on Thursday. Wednesday saw some brilliant and beautiful family moments, as well as some spectacular holes in one. One such moment was courtesy of American golfer, Tony Finau, who managed to shoot a hole in one during the Par 3 Contest and sprinted off down the fairway to celebrate. Unfortunately, during his celebrations, Finau managed to fall on his ankle, dislocating it in the process. Taking a moment to steady himself, the American chose to immediately pop it back in and continue on with his round. What was more shocking however, was his standing on the leader board by the end of Thursday’s play.
The weather throughout the tournament offered players a variety of conditions to play in. The first two days were glorious sunshine, show
casing the true beauty of Augusta and the familiar sight of Amen Corner basking in light, surrounded by a plethora of colourful floral arrangements. Spots of rain and wind did little to hamper the tournament play, instead posing new challenges for those leading to stay there, for those chasing to keep in touch, and for those seeking to make a late charge to not fall away and completely out of contention.Thursday brought with it the anticipation of seeing who would emerge as an early leader and who could remain in contention as part of the chasing pack. As yet unsorted by their standing on the leader board, players went out at all times and sorted away from their rivals. By the end of Thursday, Jordan Spieth had applied his quality and moved to first place on -6, leading many to believe that Spieth would dominate the golf course once again. Following closely behind on -4 were Matt Kuchar and, somewhat unbelievably, Tony Finau, the man who had dislocated his ankle just the day before. Most of the chasing pack, including Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed were back on -3 after shooting rounds of 69.
Friday saw a drop in form for Spieth who ended up misfiring and finishing the day with +2 to move back to -4. While Spieth moved backwards however, his competitors showed no such lack. Patrick Reed moved to the top of the leader board after matching Spieth’s opening score to move to -9, two ahead of Australian golfer Marc Leishman, who finished on -7. Friday also saw some big names fail to make the cut, including defending champion Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard finished Friday with +15, and so Garcia joins a select group of players who failed to make the cut while defending champion which includes legends of the game such as Jack Nicklaus, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, as well as fellow countrymen Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. Some of the big names who also failed to make it to the weekend in 2018 include former British champion Danny Willett, Jason Dufner, and Charles Schwartzel. But the contest must go on.
By the end of Saturday, many considered the tournament to be a two-horse race. Patrick Reed stayed ahead of the pack after moving to -14 by close of play. His closest competitor was Rory McIlroy on -11. McIlroy was bidding to become only the sixth player to complete a career grand slam by securing the green jacket and had given himself a great opportunity to do so by closing in on Patrick Reed. Rounds of -7 from Rickie Fowler and Spaniard John Rahm also put them in contention at the top of the chasing pack. It was looking increasingly likely that there would be a new addition to the exclusive club of Masters winners, and only Sunday would tell that story. What a story Sunday told.
“Perhaps the most remarkable placement inside the top ten however, was that of Tony Finau, the player who dislocated his ankle on Wednesday. Many would not have expected that result”
Heading into the final day, all eyes were on Reed and McIlroy once they had teed off. As the leading pair they started last, behind the chasing pack who knew they could heap the pressure on with a few birdies. McIlroy sadly failed to replicate the heroics that had got him into second place, and quickly fell back to -9 and now six shots behind Reed who had moved up to -15. Jordan Spieth pulled out all the stops with a round of -8, despite bogeying the final hole after hitting a tree, and moved to -13. Roars went up around Augusta with every birdie Spieth holed, and there seemed to be nothing which could stop the man. Augusta often acts a large cauldron of sound, with cheers and exasperated sighs echoing across the course, alerting other players to nearby progress. Reed would have undoubtedly been aware of Spieth’s progress, and showed excellent professionalism and determination to stay focused on his own game.
Rickie Fowler surpassed Spieth on the day however, finishing in second with -14 after a final round of -5 thanks to some excellent putting throughout the back nine. McIlroy slipped back to -9 after a bad day on the greens, finishing alongside Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Cameron Smith. Perhaps the most remarkable placement inside the top ten however, was that of Tony Finau, the player who dislocated his ankle on Wednesday. Many would not have expected that result. As Reed approached the final hole, he knew he simply had to make par in order to win and after a superb second shot to the green, left himself with two putts to win the 2018 Masters.
“No doubt that this is not the last the golfing world will hear of Patrick Reed, as he will inevitably seek to secure more majors and championships in the future”
Patrick Reed held his nerve and was able to two-putt his way to victory at the final hole of Augusta, much to the delight of himself and the surrounding crowd. Reed was visibly emotional, and the crowds were treated to some splendid golf throughout the entirety of the week. A memorable display from Patrick Reed, holding off stiff competition in the form of Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth. No doubt that this is not the last the golfing world will hear of Patrick Reed, as he will inevitably seek to secure more majors and championships in the future. The first golf major of 2018 has finished, and eyes now turn to Shinnecock Hills course in New York, where the US Open will be contested on June 14-17.