Masters-ful


The 2013 Masters tournament was controversial and thrilling, producing some magical moments and others that certain individuals may want to forget. It came down to a play off between 32 year-old Adam Scott against the Argentine Angel Cabrera. On paper they shouldn’t have even been contesting for the title – Scott was world number 7 and runner up at the 2012 Open Championship, while Cabrera was ranked some 262 places behind the Aussie and had a highest result of 7th in any Major Championship since his victory at Augusta in 2009.  But something about this course brings out the best in the Argentine and he was agonisingly close to taking the title with a putt that finished less than 30 centimetres away from the hole.

It was a truly special four days of golf that threw up pretty much everything you could ask for from a Major. There were tantrums (namely from Tiger Woods), penalties, sublime shots and lots of balls finding the water – spare a thought for Kevin Na and last year’s winner Bubba Watson, who both took ten shots to complete the par-three twelfth hole after having real troubles negotiating the river in front of the green. But there were also many players who had much more luck, such as Luke Donald and Jason Day who both managed to find the hole when stuck in the bunkers. They may say that they meant to do that and this may be true, but everyone knows that any shots that holes from the bunker has to had some element of luck, no matter how good they are. There were also plenty of similar shots from outside the green to, the most memorable of which came from Italian Matteo Manassero – he was six over par and fighting to make the cut to take part at the weekend when he produced a special shot to eagle the par-five eighth, finding the perfect spot on the green that allowed his chip to spin back and find the cup.

One man who may be cursing his luck more than most, however, is Woods. Having reclaimed the number 1 spot in the world rankings in the lead up to the tournament, there was a huge buzz about the possibility ofthe four-time Masters winner claiming his 15th Major. He played solidly, if not spectacularly, throughout the tournament and was at one point leading alongside Day on the second day before throwing the lead away, including finding the water at the 15th which led to a bogey, and finished three shots behind going into the weekend. But this was to be later increased to five shots after he was given a two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. Basically, when he took the shot at the 15th again after finding the lake he dropped the ball two yards behind the original starting position, which should have incurred an addition of a further two shots to the bogey he had already made at the hole. This would have meant he would have scored a triple bogey but this wasn’t marked on the card, as Woods didn’t think it had to be. Normally an incorrect scorecard would lead to disqualification but the officials didn’t feel that was necessary seeing as it was clear to them Woods had no intention of breaking the rules. This spurred him on to play even better golf but the gap was just too big to bridge and he had to settle for equal fifth place overall.

Another player on the wrong side of the officials was Guan Tianlang. At the tender age of just 14, the Chinese player had already made a name for himself after becoming the youngest ever player to appear at the Masters, before playing beautifully to finish only three over par at the end of the first day. But he was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons come the end of the second day, being penalised a shot for slow play. Fortunately he still made the cut for the weekend, an impressive feat given that he’d never played the course before or even appeared at a Major Championship

On the homegrown front things weren’t so positive. Lee Westwood was the best of the Brits, carding three under par for the tournament to finish equal eight, while Justin Rose will be disappointed with his two over after such a promising start to the tournament. Amateur David Lynn took the tournament by storm with a round of 68 on the first day but fell away badly on the third day to finish well down the field while Scots Paul Lawrie and Sandy Lyle, twenty five years after his victory at Augusta, also made the cut for the weekend but finished well in low positions. The Brit who will be most annoyed at his performance, though, will be Rory McIlroy – having started the year playing like a drain, the Northern Irishman finally found some form the week before the tournament, finishing second at the Valero Texas Open, but he never really looked in contention for victory here. His putting was very ordinary at best and he just fell apart on the third day, carding a round of 79 to leave him five over par. He recovered well on the final day but, like Woods, it was a case of too little, too late.

There were no such problems for Scott – going into the final day he was six under par, one shot behind leader Cabrera. While both were extremely consistent throughout the tournament it was the Argentine who found himself in the spotlight, surprising everyone with his delicate putting and gorgeous tee shots, allowing the Aussie to quietly get on with his game. He was also overshadowed by fellow Australians Marc Leishman, leader after the first round, and Day, meaning Scott could concentrate on himself without having to worry about any media frenzy. All of a sudden he appeared alongside Cabrera at the top of the leaderboard, taking casual fans and experts alike by surprise. It’s not as if no-one knew he could do it – he has improved his game year-on-year and always played well at Majors – but few people were actually following his progress that closely. However, he is a more than deserving winner of the Green Jacket after a supreme four days of golf in which he was one of few not undone by the conditions and kept his nerve superbly in a tense play-off to become the first Australian to ever win one of Golf’s Major Championships.

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