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Opinion & Analysis

Tiger Woods’ victory was great, but was it really the best Masters win in the past 15 years?

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After this year’s Masters, Jim Nantz proudly stated “It’s the best event I’ve ever covered. And I feel very fortunate to have been in that spot.” Now the hype train has slowed down a touch, we can look at this recent Masters and ask was it the best in the last 15 years?

We all know the Masters doesn’t start till the back nine Sunday, so I’ve judged the 2005 to 2019 tournaments on the storylines heading into Sunday, the leaderboard at the start of the back nine, and the final result. While doing this I realized two things, Augusta National didn’t really “Tiger Proof” Augusta, because he was around the lead most years, and we have been spoiled with some pretty exciting Sundays since Tiger’s last win in 2005.

15. 2008: Trevor Immelman (280)

No offense to Trevor, who has one of the best swings in recent years, but this Masters was very dull. Trev started the day with a two-shot lead over Steve Flesch and Brandt Snedeker, and by the 14th he had a five-shot lead. No one really made a run at the eventual champion, and he played solid, not spectacular, golf over the final day to close out a three-shot victory over Tiger.

14. 2014: Bubba Watson (280)

The start of the day saw Bubba and Spieth in the lead at 5 under, with Blixt, Fowler, and Kuchar tied for second. What started as a day with promise didn’t eventuate to much, and by the start of the back nine, it was a two-horse race between Spieth and Watson. While it was exciting to see our young hero Speith try to win his first Masters, both he and Watson pared the last five holes to give Watson a three-shot win.

13. 2007: Zach Johnson (289)

An interesting Masters if you’re a fan of meteorology as it was unseasonably cold and windy all week, but unfortunately had an unclimactic finish. Stuart Appleby started the day with the lead and hopes of becoming Australia’s first Masters champion, but by the start of the back nine Zach Johnson, Rory Sabbatini, and Appelby were one back of Retief Goosen, with Tiger lurking. Sadly for the viewers at home, Zach was the only player in contention to play the back nine under par and took the victory. You have to respect his clutch play and ability to score, but in the end, it wasn’t the close finish we were hoping for.

12. 2006: Phil Mickelson (281)

In a year where the course played quite tough, the final round started with Phil and Fred Couples in tied at 4 under. Phil played solid in the final round and cruised to victory over Tim Clark, Chad Campbell, Couples, Goosen, and Woods. While it was nice to see Phil get his third major, no one made a charge and it resulted in a mundane year.

11. 2018: Patrick Reed (273)

After playing great golf all week, Reed started the final round with a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy. Rory had his chances early but failed to capitalize, and by the turn, Reed had a four-shot lead over Rory, Fowler, Spieth, and Rahm. While Spieth and Fowler made an improbable late charge, Reed played solid golf and held on for the win. It was an impressive effort, but Reed’s victory will forever be marred by the awkward applause from the patrons.

10. 2016: Danny Willett (283)

A Sunday morning leader board that consisted of Spieth, Smylie Kaufman, Bernhard Langer, and Hideki Matsuyama. Everyone was excited to watch Jordan go back to back, and when he made the turn with a five shot lead it looked likely. However, after a cringe-worthy bogey, bogey, quad start the back nine he found himself was one behind Willet. The Englishman held onto the lead to capture his first major in what was a stunning final round. Sadly, for Willett, this Masters will be remembered for Jordan’s capitulation, and not his bogey-free 67 that lead to a three-shot win. All in all, a weird and interesting Sunday at Masters.

9. 2015: Jordan Spieth (270)

After an uninspired Champions Dinner of traditional caesar, grilled chicken breast, green beans, mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese, and dessert of confetti cake and vanilla ice cream, it was little surprise to see only two past champions in the top 10 heading into the final day. The main storyline for Sunday was whether Jordan was going to break the 18 under tournament record as he held a comfortable four-shot lead over Justin Rose. Over the front nine, Spieth had a few bogeys but over the back nine firmly regained the lead and ended up winning by four. Although no one really challenged for the title, it was a stacked leaderboard and was great to see Jordan get his first major and tie the tournament scoring record.

8. 2010: Phil Michelson (272)

Lee Westwood and Phil were in the final group on Sunday with Tiger a few shots back. A lot of golf fans were hoping that Lee could snag his first major and at the start of the back nine it was, Lee (-11), KJ Choi (-12) and Mickelson (-12) battling it out. The back nine was exciting with birdies and eagles and a 64 from Anthony Kim, but this Masters will always be remembered for the shot from the pine straw on 13 by Lefty. It helped him keep momentum and he ended up winning his third green jacket by three shots.

7. 2009: Angel Cabrera (276)

I feel bad for putting this win here, but outside of the year-round golf fan, the 2009 Masters didn’t spark much interest. However, if the same storyline was carried out by big-name players it would’ve made the top four. The round started with Angel and Kenny Perry tied for the lead with Chad Campbell two back. By the 10th Perry had a one-shot lead over Campbell and a charging Mickelson. As Mickelson failed to make up any more ground, Perry took a two shot leading with two holes to play. Everyone at home was thinking “OMG Kenny Perry is going to win the Masters!!??”. However, two closing bogeys lead to a Campbell, Perry, Cabrera playoff. With a gutsy up and down on the first playoff hole, Cabrera managed to make par and head to the second playoff hole with Perry. Here Cabrera made a routine par and captured his second major in the process.

6. 2017: Sergio (279)

After a week of solid golf, Sergio entered the final round tied with Justin Rose at 6 under, with several quality players within a few shots of the lead. Most fans were hoping it would finally be Sergio’s first major. But could he do it on his 74th attempt? Over the front nine, the two overnight leaders separated themselves from the pack by going out in 34. Starting the back nine, Sergio’s bogeys at 10 and 11 gifted rose a two-shot lead. This lead would last to the 15th hole where Sergio made an awe-inspiring eagle and Rose birdied for the pair to be tied at 9 under. On the 16th, Rose made a clutch birdie to take firm control of the tournament. But Rose’s weak bogey on 17, followed by him and Sergio making pars on 18, sent the tournament into extra holes. Sergio made birdie on the first playoff hole, handing the Spaniard his first major on what would’ve been Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday.

5. 2013: Adam Scott (279)

For some people, fifth might be a bit too generous ranking for 2013, but as an Australian, it was hard to not put this near the top. Angel Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker were in the final group Sunday with three Australians Day, Scott, and Leishman just off the lead. By the time the final group made the turn, Cabrera held a two-shot lead and looked well on his way to a second green jacket. But the back nine had some interesting moments, as Scott and Day made some birdies and Angel stubbled. When Adam rolled in a 25-foot bomb on the 72nd hole the tournament appeared over, until moments later when Angel hit a clutch wedge to three feet to tie. The playoff ended with Scott birding the second hole, giving Australia their first Master’s title.

4. 2012: Bubba Watson (278)

The 2012 Masters Sunday will be remembered by two incredible shots, but it started off with little know Swede Peter Hanson holding a one-shot lead over Phil Mickelson, with Oosthuizen and Watson a few back. The front nine was one of the more exciting in recent years with Oosthuizen gaining the lead with an albatross on the second hole. By the time the leaders made it to Amen Corner, there were five players within three shots of the lead still held by Oosthuizen. In the end, it came down to a three-player race between Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson, and Matt Kuchar. When Kuchar eagled 15, he temporarily tied Oosthuizen at 9 under but fell away with a bogey on 16th hole. Watson made four consecutive birdies and Oosthuizen made one more for the pair to be tied at 10 under through 72 holes. In the playoff, Watson and Oosthuizen made regulation pars on the 18th after narrowly missing their birdie putts. On the next, Oosthuizen hit the fairway while Bubba missed way right in the trees. We all thought Bubba was done until he managed to sling hook a wedge to 10 feet, and after Oosthuizen made a weak bogey, Bubba had his first major.

3. 2005: Tiger Woods (276)

After an exciting third round played over Saturday and Sunday morning, Tiger would hold a three-shot lead going into the final round paired with Chris DiMarco. After his 65 in the third round, which included seven straight birdies, Tiger looked like a sure thing to capture his fourth green jacket, and this was punctuated by a birdie, birdie start. After a week of great golf, barring the back nine in the third round, DiMarco played solid golf over the front nine, and made the turn three shots behind Tiger. After Tiger struggled through Amen Corner, his lead was down to one as the pair stood on the 16th tee. DiMarco had the honor and hit a great shot below the hole, while Tiger pulled his tee shot left leaving his ball in an extremely difficult situation. What looked like a two-shot swing in Dimarco’s favor quickly evaporated, as Tiger holed his chip for birdie, in what some think is his greatest shot ever. The disappointing part of this Masters was Tiger’s bogey, bogey finish to force a playoff, and if DiMarco’s chip on the last hadn’t lipped out we could’ve had a different champion.
On the first hole of the playoff, Tiger made a 15ft putt to seal the victory and his ninth major title.

2. 2011: Charl Schwartzel (274)

After playing flawless golf all week, Rory McIlroy looked set to comfortably win his first major, but his four-shot lead at the start of Sunday’s round was cut short with a bogey at the first. The front nine had its moments with Schwartzel’s eagle on three, Tiger’s front-nine 31, and numerous players hanging around the lead. After Rory made triple on the 10th, Tiger, Schwartzel, Cabrera, and Scott were tied. Over the back nine, eight different golfers looked like they might win the event. Schwartzel eventually made four birdies in a row to pull away from the pack and beat Day and Scott by two shots. In an afternoon where the cameras struggled to capture every meaningful shot, it truly was an exciting Masters, but it didn’t have the potential playoff or champion many were hoping for.

1. 2019: Tiger Woods (275)

I originally started writing this article thinking 2011 was better, but when you look at the altering leaderboard on the back-nine, the eventual champion, and the mix of new and ‘old’ generation golfers, this was the best Masters in the last 15 years.

With the treats of thunderstorms in the area, tee times were moved up Sunday and the players went out in groups of three. Francesco Molinari held the lead at the start of the day, and had control of the tournament until he made a double bogey at the 12th. Tiger, who was paired with Molinari, gained a share of the lead after a regulation par on the 12th, which left patrons and tv audiences around the world buzzing with the possibilities of Tiger’s Cinderella story. Over the final stretch, DJ, Koepka, Schauffele, Cantlay, Fowler, Rahm, Watson, Finau, Simpson, and Day, all made runs at the lead but were unable to top Tiger, who birdied 13, 15, and 16 to take control of the tournament. I will forgive a “weak” but controlled bogey on the last to see the GOAT collect his 15th major. The fist pump, the tour sauce quality of the family embrace, and the walk to clubhouse left few dry eyes in the house.

 

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James was born in Sydney, Australia, and has been golfing since he was 14 years old. He played college golf in Texas where he studied finance and philosophy. He now works in the energy industry and golfs as much as possible.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Holland

    May 11, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    Aside from the content of this article, the editing, spelling, and use of English is pathetic. You even misspelled Mickelson at one point!
    Cabrera ‘stubbled’?

    Have you not heard of proofreading? This is a pathetic attempt at writing. Do better.

  2. Barry

    May 11, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    My reaction to this article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilcRS5eUpwk

    James….seriously. Please tell me you were drunk, high or both when writing this article.

    Your #2 pick (Charl Schwartzel, 2011) is easily bottom 3. Totally forgettable, except for the trainwreck was Rory that day. A great tournament is WON, not lost. You probably loved the 1996 Faldo victory too.

    Also, you cannot rank Patrick Reed winning anything low enough (that was #99 out of 15), and Phil’s 2006 needs to be way higher (as does El Pato’s 2009).

    Please seek professional help.

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Opinion & Analysis

5 most common golf injuries (and how to deal with them)

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You might not think about golf as a physically intensive game, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still a sport. And as with every sport, there’s a possibility you’ll sustain an injury while playing golf. Here’s a list of the five most common injuries you might sustain when playing the game, along with tips on how to deal with them in the best way possible so you heal quickly.

Sunburn

While not directly an injury, it’s paramount to talk about sunburns when talking about golf. A typical golf game is played outside in the open field, and it lasts for around four hours. This makes it extremely likely you’ll get sunburnt, especially if your skin is susceptible to it.

That’s why you should be quite careful when you play golf

Apply sunscreen every hour – since you’re moving around quite a lot on a golf course, sunscreen won’t last as long as it normally does.

Wear a golf hat – aside from making you look like a professional, the hat will provide additional protection for your face.

If you’re extra sensitive to the sun, you should check the weather and plan games when the weather is overcast.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. This group are the main muscles responsible for swing movements in your arms. It’s no surprise then that in golf, where the main activity consists of swinging your arms, there’s a real chance this muscle group might sustain an injury.

To avoid injuries to this group, it’s imperative you practice the correct form of swinging the club. Before playing, you should also consider some stretching.

If you get an injury, however, you can recover faster by following RICE:

Rest: resting is extremely important for recovery. After an injury, the muscles are extremely vulnerable to further injury, and that’s why you should immediately stop playing and try to get some rest.

Ice: applying ice to the injured area during the first day or two can help. It reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles.

Compress: bandage the rotator cuff group muscle and compress the muscles. This speeds up the muscle healing process.

Elevate: elevate the muscles above your heart to help achieve better circulation of blood and minimize fluids from gathering.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist tendons can sustain injuries when playing golf. Especially if you enjoy playing with a heavy club, it can put some strain on the wrist and cause wrist tendonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation.

You should start by putting your wrist in a splint or a cast – it is necessary to immobilize your wrist to facilitate healing.

Anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve some of the pain and swelling you’ll have to deal with during the healing process. While it might not help your wrist heal much quicker, it’ll increase your comfort.

A professional hand therapist knows about the complexities of the wrist and the hand and can help you heal quicker by inspecting and treating your hands.

Back Pain

A golf game is long, sometimes taking up to 6 hours. This long a period of standing upright, walking, swinging clubs, etc. can put stress on your back, especially in people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activities:

If you feel like you’re not up for it, you should take a break mid-game and then continue after a decent rest. A golf game doesn’t have any particular time constraints, so it should be simple to agree to a short break.

If you don’t, consider renting a golf cart, it makes movement much easier. If that’s not possible, you can always buy a pushcart, which you can easily store all the equipment in. Take a look at golf push cart reviews to know which of them best suits your needs.

Better posture – a good posture distributes physical strain throughout your body and not only on your back, which means a good posture will prevent back pain and help you deal with it better during a game.

Golfer’s Elbow

Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow occurs due to strain on the tendons connecting the elbow and forearm. It can also occur if you overuse and over-exhaust the muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip and rotate your arm:

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the way to go to alleviate the most severe symptoms of the injury at the beginning.

Lift the club properly, and if you think there’s a mismatch between your wrist and the weight of the club, you should get a lighter one.

Learn when you’ve reached your limit. Don’t overexert yourself – when you know your elbow is starting to cause you problems, take a short break!

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TG2: Our PGA picks were spot on…and Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball

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Rob picked Brooks to win the PGA and hit the nail on the head, while Knudson’s DJ pick was pretty close. Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball and we talk about some new clubs that are going to be tested in the next couple days.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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The Gear Dive: Vokey Wedge expert Aaron Dill

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Titleist Tour Rep Aaron Dill on working under Bob Vokey, How he got the gig and working with names like JT, Jordan and Brooks.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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