O’Grady: The Masters provide intrigue, even without Woods
Rachel O'Grady | Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Despite the forecast, spring has officially sprung and it’s practically time for a tradition unlike any other — the Masters. It is, what I believe, the very best and most fun week of golf, from the tradition to the song and of course, to Augusta National.
Having said that, this year already feels a bit different, because — in what has turned into the norm — Tiger Woods will not be not playing in this year’s tournament. For even the most amateur of golf fans, myself included, this is at the very least odd, given the ubiquitous nature of the Tiger Woods name.
But it’s OK that he’s not playing. The golf world is such a great place right now, and there is so much more to pay attention to. It’s not just about Tiger anymore — and it hasn’t been for a couple of years.
For Jordan Spieth, this year is a chance to finally rid himself of the memory of the quadruple-bogey from last year’s disaster of a tournament. His collapse was incomprehensible, but he finally has the opportunity to overcome the demons that have no doubt haunted him over the past year. As Spieth said himself in an interview last week, “The Masters lives on for a year. It brings a non-golf audience into golf. And it will be nice once this year’s finished, from my point of view, to be brutally honest with you.”
For some in the field, a shot at making history is at stake. Only once since 1966 has someone won all four major championships, and Rory McIlroy — perhaps the most likable golfer on PGA Tour right now — has the opportunity to complete the career grand slam this weekend. With a suboptimal performance at the 2016 Masters, McIlroy is surely chomping at the bit for that green jacket.
While Phil Mickelson has no shortage of green jackets, with a win this weekend, he would be the oldest person to win the Masters, cracking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 46 years old. Additionally, with his fourth win, he would join Arnold Palmer, Woods and Nicklaus as the only golfers with four of the coveted jackets.
Finally, while Dustin Johnson is easily a favorite to win the 2017 tournament, he is — at the very least — slightly overhyped. While there is no denying Johnson is good — great, even — coming off three wins in as many starts, to go for a fourth in a row is difficult task to achieve, particularly at the Masters. On a practical level, Johnson’s ball flight is left to right, while Augusta typically favors those who play a draw. That’s not to say that’s the end-all-be-all for Johnson, but it certainly doesn’t help. And while a fourth straight win would be impressive, it’s important to recall the words of Johnson’s former caddy Bobby Brown, who said “He’s not the most dedicated player on the planet … And thank God for the rest of us that he isn’t.”
So regardless of who you’re cheering for, or if this is the only weekend you watch golf all year, the Masters is filled with a collection of incredible storylines, and there is no denying this year’s tournament will be something unlike any other.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.