This week Steve Carroll, Dan Murphy and Alex Perry join me in Fourball to ponder, going forward, who’s going to emerge from Augusta as battered or buoyed and how it might affect our dress sense…
Can I expect to see you in a mock turtleneck at some point in the coming months?
Steve: I had a drawer full when Tiger was in his prime and have spent the last few days tearing through the crevices of my cupboards feverishly trying to find them. I’m sorry but I find that red top/black trousers combination just hypnotic. I’ve a picture at home in that exact garb. In my head I was a legend. Could I get away with it now with a paunch? We’ll see. I’ve just bought one.
Dan: No more so than you can expect to see me tearing up Augusta’s back nine in the coming months. I’m more than happy for others to wear their mock turtlenecks though. Or indeed anything else. I’m no fan of dress codes.
Alex: I just think it looks odd because it looks like a T-shirt. And T-shirts should not be paired with golf trousers. It’s like when you walk down the street of [any American city] and people are wearing baseball caps with suits. This was a long-winded way of saying no.
Mark: I’m up for anything on the golf course but only as long as it involves some blue trousers and some variety of blue top. On a daring day there might be a splash of pink in there. I’m trying to think of a time in my life when I would have most suited a muscular turtleneck and I’ll be honest, I’m struggling a bit.
Take out Tiger, who comes away from Augusta as the most buoyed for the rest of the year?
Alex: Xander Schauffele has had four top-5 finishes in his eight major starts. He almost won the Masters. He won’t win the PGA He will win the US Open. And golf needs another winner called Alex. It’s been 119 years, dammit.
Dan: Possibly Jordan Spieth. He was out in 40 on Thursday. Had that sort of form continued and he’d missed the cut by plenty, I’m not sure where he’d have gone from there. If he’s finishing DFL at Augusta then he might even be obliged to step away from the tour for a little while. However, for the rest of the week he was nine under, and he eventually finished T21. That surely gives him something to build on and I’ll be watching him very closely at the Heritage this week to see how he gets on.
Steve: Brooks Koepka didn’t have his best tools by any means and was still within shout of winning another major. I think he will adore a souped-up Bethpage for the US Open. Many tour insiders see Patrick Cantlay as a major winner in waiting and, though he didn’t have the experience to get the job done, this should only bolster his belief. I’d expect to see another tour victory very soon.
Mark: I’m split between Koepka and DJ as, from what I saw, neither seemed to be at the peak of their powers other than Koepka on day one but they both finished second. I’ll side with Koepka who continues to make the majors look very easy and, turning 29 in a few weeks, has bundles of time to continue on his upward curve.
And who comes away as the most scarred?
Dan: Foolishly, I thought it was going to be different for Rory this year. I thought his game was too strong for him not to compete. I was wrong and it was more of the same for him. He made a whopping 16 bogeys which is a ridiculous total for a player of his calibre. Worse still, he proved in the last round that there is little or nothing wrong with his game (he shot a 68) which suggests to me that he still can’t get his head around what Augusta requires, and that’s quite worrying now he’s over 10 years into his professional career.
Alex: Every year that passes, more and more pressure piles on Rory McIlroy. I suspect he’ll finally get a Green Jacket when he’s in his 40s and nobody is expecting him to win. What a weekend that’s going to be, looking forward to that one.
Mark: Rory must be so used to what it feels like post-Augusta that I think/hope that he’ll just flick the switch and turn his attentions elsewhere. Molinari did too many good things in the week to worry too much about Sunday so I’ll go with Patrick Cantlay who, having eagled 15 and taken the solo lead, he then missed the massive funnel at 16 where everyone else was making 1, and then hit a weak drive at the next. This was a big test and he fluffed it at the last minute.
Steve: I’ll also mention Molinari. He’s ice cool, generally, but will losing a three-shot lead in the space of a couple of holes leave a mark? I don’t think I’d ever recover from having one hand in the Green Jacket and letting it slip away. If there’s a character that can come back stronger then it should be the Italian but we’ll have to see what happens.