Fairways / Hybrid’sJuly, 2011
It will be remembered as the moment Rory had a meltdown, but there were other interesting themes at Augusta too
1 It isn’t easy to be young and talented
SO, in the space of the last 12 months, arguably the game’s three most talented youngsters have held a big 54-hole Major lead and failed to break 80 in the final round.
First came Dustin Johnson in the US Open at Pebble Beach, who led Graeme McDowell by three, shot 82 and finished 8th.
Then Nick Watney, at Whistling Straits in the PGA, finished in a tie for 18th after a closing 81. He had begun the day leading Johnson by three shots.
At Augusta Rory McIlroy, four clear, carded an 80 to tie for 15th.
In the process, each ran up a triple bogey – and remarkably neither McIlroy’s nor Johnson’s involved a penalty.
2 The American Major drought is realised
AND with that, America holds precisely none of the four Majors. The last (and only previous) time this happened was in 1994, with Jose Maria Olazabal, Ernie Els and Nick Price (Open and PGA) winning the year’s four Majors.
Never since the Masters began has America failed to win any of five consecutive Majors. Which is something that may weigh heavily on the host nation’s shoulders at Congressional next month.
Tiger Woods (below) was the only American in the top eight.
3 The curse of the broom handle continues – just
NO-ONE has yet won a Major using a broom-handle putter – though Adam Scott made quite a run at putting that statistic to bed.
Scott had plummeted down the rankings until recently, largely due to his sub-standard putting.
After watching him hole putt after putt at Augusta en route to his best Major finish, what price the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and/or McIlroy, to name but three, trying it out in the near future?
In the space of the last 12 months, arguably the game’s three most talented youngsters have held a big 54-hole Major lead and failed to break 80.
4 The curse of the Aussies at Augusta continues – just
NO Australian has ever won at Augusta. Nor an Asian for that matter. Yet at various stages of Sunday we saw Scott, Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy and KJ Choi all reach the top of the leaderboards.
In Australia’s case, that a country with such a small population should continually produce so many outstanding golfers is remarkable. As for Asia, we can safely assume YE Yang’s win at the PGA in 2009 will be the first of many for players of that continent. It is worth noting Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa also finished in the top 20 at Augusta and, along with Choi, is probably the most likely to follow in Yang’s foorsteps.
5 Rory isn’t yet a serial winner
CHUBBY CHANDLER, McIlroy’s agent, made a very interesting point after the Masters.
“The problem with Rory is that he doesn’t play a lot so he doesn’t get that much practice at winning,” he said.
“That’s the balance you need to strike – how many times you should play to develop the winning habit while at the same time staying fresh and focused.”
McIlroy has won twice as a professional, once in Europe and once in America.
This is exceptional considering his age, not least because an American 21-year-old would most likely still be at college.
But what it means is that he is taking on the strongest fields in the game with limited experience of winning. In achieving so much so quickly, he has missed out on the years of steadily accumulating tournament know-how.