A November Masters Like None Other

A November Masters Like None Other

It’s November, and we are watching golf in Augusta, Ga. What is the world we live in? The Masters, perhaps the world’s most prestigious golf tournament, happened this fall after Covid-19 bumped it from its usual April start. But due to the recent stress that this 2020 induced, this year’s Masters came just when the public needed it.

Over the course of four days, fans watched some of the best golfers in the world try to tackle arguably the hardest golf courses in the United States. With a field of 92 golfers, the Masters was anyone’s match to win. Heading into the first day of play on Thursday, there were a few golfers who stuck out as clear favorites to receive the illustrious green jacket on Sunday evening. First was all-time great Tiger Woods. After winning the Masters in 2019 following a decade-long drought, Tiger seemed poised for a vintage title defense. One golfer who was extremely confident coming into Thursday was the California native Bryson DeChambeau. This heavy hitter believed he had what it took to take down the rest of the field. After putting on more than 20 pounds of weight during the offseason, DeChambeau’s new approach focused on hitting the long ball, which helped him win this year’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot. He was extremely confident, one might say almost too confident, coming into Thursday. Other contenders for this year’s green jacket were Jon Rahm, Rory MclIroy, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, among others. 

 When Thursday finally came, it brought some weather problems. The first round was delayed 10 minutes due to fog and then later delayed due to rain. With the delays, the first round had to be completed on Friday.  At that point, multiple players led the pack, with Dustin Johnson on top at seven-under. Tiger Woods had an extremely strong first round, shooting a no-bogey 68. Others near the top of the board included Justin Thomas, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Mathew Wolff. Both DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy had tough first rounds, with McIlroy shooting poorly on the back 9. 

As the weekend progressed, many dropped back as the leaders drew further away from the pack. However, there was one golfer that stood out over all four rounds. Dustin Johnson set a course record at Augusta National, shooting 20-under and winning the tournament by five strokes. His long drives, clean iron play and excellent putting were an insurmountable combination for his opponents. While other golfers struggled with the unusually slower greens at Augusta, Johnson did not. Despite the fact that he was diagnosed with Covid-19 less than a month ago, Johnson was still able to show up and blow away the competition. 

Behind Johnson and tied for second place were Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im. Smith had something else to be proud of; he was the first player ever in Masters history to break 70 in all four rounds. The Australian native is someone to watch closely over the next four years. Other notable finishes included Justin Thomas at 12-under, Rory MclIroy finishing at 11-under despite a tough first round, and Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka tied at 10-under. 

Another headline that came out of the tournament was Tiger Woods’ disastrous fourth round. Woods, who played decently all weekend, shot a dismal 76 in the fourth round. On the twelfth  hole, he hit the water three times and needed 10 strokes to finish the hole. The lackluster performance of DeChambeau was another disappointment; he had talked a lot prior to the tournament about his optimism and skills but didn’t live up to his own hype. 

In the end, the Masters was just another reminder that Dustin Johnson is without a doubt the number one golfer in the world, as ranked by the PGA. Overall, the action-packed weekend at Augusta was as exciting as ever, with new course records and astonishing victory margins. This Masters put golf back on the map (and television) for many fans, and hopefully the next tournament will rejoin the skill of today’s elite golfers with the energy of in-person fans.