Monday, 11 April 2016

How Will We Remember This Masters?

Jordan Spieth is not the first player to lose the Masters when it might have looked to be in the bag.  He is also not the first person to dunk a couple of balls in Rays Creek at twelve.  That's the downside of being the leader in perhaps golf's most-watched Major.  Sometimes you will lose that lead.  And sometimes it will be lost dramatically.

Seve dunked one twenty years ago to allow Jack Nicklaus give those of us fortunate enough to be watching one of the greatest thrills we've ever had, seeing him win his sixth green jacket.  We had to watch Greg Norman lose a big lead to allow another Englishman, Nick Faldo, win another green jacket.  Sometimes, in golf, you have to wonder whether fate, or the golfing gods, are in control.

Was it coincidence that Danny Willett's caddie had the same caddie number as Jack's son in 1986?  Was it coincidence that Danny Willett's son was born early, his due date being Masters Sunday?  Isn't the first child often late in coming?  If we look hard enough we might find other interesting "coincidences."  Many golfers understand the fact that luck, good and bad, plays a huge part in this game.

You cannot control the outcome in this game.  A perfect putt can hit a spike mark, an imperfection, or a grain of sand you might not even see, and miss.  A putt on the wrong line might hit the same imperfection and go in.  At twelve at Augusta the wind might puff up, or swirl just as you hit it, and a good shot becomes a disaster.  That's golf.  

All anyone can do is the best they can and accept that it's never over until it's over and, despite your best efforts, you can't control the outcome in this game.  Danny Willett is a fine player who admits he feels empathy for Jordan Spieth.  It was his day.  He played a marvelous final round and, as Jack Nicklaus pointed out, didn't blink coming in, even when he became aware that he was the leader.  That, as golf's greatest Major champion said, is "the mark of a champion."

We will long remember this Masters for the drama it provided.  As is so often the case the tournament began on the back nine on Sunday.  Despite Jordan Spieth's incredible determination in holding onto the lead all week while obviously struggling with his ball striking, it all once again came down to those last nine holes.  

Unfortunately for Danny Willett, and perhaps also for Jordan Spieth, it will be remembered as the Masters Jordan lost rather than the Masters Danny Willett won.  That Jordan so quickly recovered from the debacle at twelve and played great golf coming home, makes me certain he will recover and learn from this loss.  But he will have the scars.