Jesus! Are you people watching this? So much has happened. God,I’m fried. Did you see Sergio rinse five balls and make a thirteen? Did you see Justin Thomas repeatedly chipping in from distance like a man dropping a letter in the mail? Did you see Tommy Fleetwood make six straight birdies? Voodoo. Witchery. He’s a demon. Excommunicate that guy. He’s double-dealing with Beelzebub. I like him though. He looks and talks like he could have been in Elephant’sMemory. And this doesn’t even take into account the leaders! I’m freaking out a little.
Everything is fine. Tomorrow never knows what troublingsplendors Sunday might bring. Let’s deal with some specifics.
The Young Guns
Masters Sunday is shaping up to be a two-man duel between a pairof extremely talented young players, the occasionally truculent but hugely gifted American Patrick Reed and the Northern Ireland-born minted future Hall of Famer Rory McIlroy. Reed leads by three heading into their Sunday pairing, but McIlroy holds the advantage in experience, having already won three majors and countless other high-profile tournaments worldwide. When his game is on, McIlroy is the best pure ball striker since Tiger Woods, and when he is putting well he is virtually unbeatable. He’s putting well this week and feels like a good bet to overcome Reed in what essentially amounts to a match-play exhibition between the two of them, playing together in the final round. Both are enormously capable of putting up a low number, and both have a tendency to run hot emotionally, so you can safely tune in and expect fireworks regardless of the outcome.
Can someone make a run at Reed and Rory and get themselves intothe championship picture? The aforementioned Fleetwood is eight shots off the lead and probably too far behind, but the popular American Rickie Fowler has the game and the momentum to post a low score and make things interesting. He is five back after carding an impressive sixty-five Saturday. If he can approach anything like that number today, he may well find himself in the mix. Also, keep one eye out for the long-hitting Spaniard Jon Rahm, who also shot sixty-five on Saturday and has the sort of game that can turn long par-fours into a massive drive and a simple wedge. He’s six back, and relatively inexperienced in such a pressurized atmosphere. But we’ve seen the likes of Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman come out of nowhere to triumph at Augusta. It could happen again.
The Old Guys
Going into the week, much excitement surrounded the chances ofthe forty-something legends Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both of whom have storied histories at the Masters and both of whom had shown promising form of late. Turns out, not so much. Woods has struggled from the tee and with his long irons, and Mickelson has just plain struggled. Both made the cut and neither has embarrassed himself, but to see them so far out of the mix on Sunday can’t help but feel like a disappointment. Like the Rolling Stones beginning around the time of Black and Blue, this may just be Tiger and Phil the way we’ll have to learn to love them. There will still be hits and highlights, but at any given major, don’t get your hopes up.
For the newly indoctrinated, you will learn about Butler Cabinonce we have a winner. Butler Cabin is sort of like the Masters’ version of the Red Lodge in Twin Peaks. A lot of weird things happen in there, which can feel at once deeply moving and terrifyingly strange. The big thing is, the man who won the green jacket last year places a green jacket on this year’s winner in a deeply odd ceremony that one assumes, but cannot know for sure, goes on at private corporate retreats around the world. Typically after this, CBS will play an extremely treacly song by Dave Loggins—cousin of Kenny—which references the “wooden shafted legend of Bobby Jones” and feels far more debased than anything on the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat album. The last thing you will feel watching this is sort of icky and unctuous but also strangely ready for more. That’s the Masters!
So What Do We Want To Happen??
Can’t speak for you, but I am all in for Rory McIlroy completinghis journey to the career grand slam. He is an electrifying combination of sheer brute force and pinpoint finesse and a nice kid from a middle-class background without all the privilege of so many tour pros. He was my wager going in and he’s the horse I intend to ride all the way to weird Butler Cabin. As a matter of full disclosure, I have a bit of a shred for British and Irish golfers, who are just super cool in general. I even took a vacation to the legendary St. Andrews course in Scotland a few years back and it was amazing. Did I also write a