Surprisingly Green at the 18th: the 2016 Masters
When they say that the Masters does not start until the back nine of Sunday well, they are right!
The 2016 Masters will be remembered as one of the most compelling, entertaining and surprising of all the 82 years of history, and much of this is for its last hour.
During the first three and an half days the defending champion Jordan Spieth was in complete control of the tournament, playing an impeccable golf from tee to green. He was nearly on target to make the tournament a repetition of 2015, where he flawlessly played four record-breaking days winning by four shots and his first Major Championship.
While everyone was expecting an epic battle among the giants of the games, the big names did not fulfill the expectations: patrons’ favorite Rickie Fowler shot an 80 on Thursday on his way to a MC, along with names like Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace and Ernie Els.
The par three sixteen killed the dreams of back to back Major victories for the Australian Jason Day: he scored a triple bogey on Thursday and he never really recovered, finishing one over par for the week.
World number three Rory McIlroy was the player everyone wanted to succeed at Augusta for many reasons: a redemption for 2011 where he blew a four shots lead with a triple on the tenth hole. With a win here he would also have become only the sixth player in the history to complete a Career Slam (after Gene Sarazen, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus). McIlroy was paired last with Spieth on Saturday but it was a one way game since the American seemed impossible to stop.
Four straight birdies from the sixth to the ninth convinced everyone Spieth has guaranteed himself another Green Jacket but again, the back nine of Augusta National Golf Club and the Amen Corner would not be so famous: Bogey-Bogey-Quadruple and the Texan was out of the lead for the first time since April 2015.
In the meantime, four holes ahead, Danny Willett learned from the leaderboard that he was the new leader of the Masters, with three holes to play.
There are defining moments that separate winners from underachievers, and that last hour of play was one of them. Willett holed a clutch birdie on the sixteen, but most important saved a par on the seventeen with an impressive chip from the left of the green.
The Englishman had been wearing all white on Sunday, but on the 18th green before holing the last putt decided to take off his white sweater revealing… a green shirt. This seemed to me a good metaphor for this year’s tournament where everyone was watching Spieth, but on the last hole the Englishman became surprisingly green!
*photo cred Getty Images