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2023 Masters Tournament Wrap-Up: Rahm Wins His First Green Jacket

After four days of prototypical Georgian rain, conventional thunderstorms, and anomalous falling trees, another exciting yet familiar Masters Tournament has come and gone. A winner was named and the coveted green jacket was issued to the subsequent new number one golfer in the world Jon Rahm, who was a favorite to win the tournament and finished the tournament 12 under par.

There was a litany of stories to follow during the coverage of this year’s tourney, some of which have been covered for weeks now. Such as Tiger Woods’ decision to play or even Rickie Fowler chasing a top 50 spot in the Official Golf World Rankings in order to make the field.

The Big Three

One of the main narratives being regurgitated through the golf pipelines was this year’s Masters basically being declared a competition between the top three guys in the game currently, and that it was almost a certainty that one of these golfers would be going home with this year’s emerald tuxedo. I’m talking about Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Jon Rahm, of course. Amazingly, for once, the sports media world came together to correctly predict the outcome of something, seemingly unanimously. Everybody seemed to know one of these three guys was going to win, and what do you know? One of them did.

Jon Rahm’s win firmly secures his spot above the other two golfers and he now sits at number one in the Official World Golf Rankings. Meanwhile, McIlroy struggled mightily on the weekend, putting up a score of +5 before missing the cut, whilst Scottie Scheffler had a fairly decent outing, finishing T10 with a -4.

Other notable stories from this weekend include that of Amateur Golfer Sam Bennett (Texas A&M) who was playing in his first-ever major. Bennett finished T16 on the weekend, good enough for Low Amateur by a mile with a score of -2. Things for him are probably somewhat bittersweet right now, as an amateur isn’t able to receive any of the purses for a pro event, and he also just barely missed a top-12 finish which would have meant an automatic invite for next year’s tournament. But it should be easy enough for him to put those things aside, as he’s definitely in line to rake in some serious NIL endorsements after his impressive performance.

Not Out Of The Woods Yet

Tiger Woods made the cut for the 23rd consecutive time at the Masters, this year, tying Fred Couples and Gary Player for the record. Fred Couples coincidentally set another record this year when he became the oldest player to make the cut at the Masters at the age of 63 years old. Couples finished the tournament near the bottom T50 with a score of +9, but he played impressively over the first two days of the tournament.

Tiger on the other hand also played fairly well over the first two days of the tournament but ended up withdrawing due to injury on day three. He was clearly struggling throughout the beginning of the tournament, something made fairly obvious by his awkward movement. His old coach Butch Harmon commented on this and was quoted as saying:

“I hate to say this but yesterday (Saturday) at the end of this show I was just hoping that he wouldn’t make the cut, that he’d just finish one outside. Not because I don’t want to see Tiger Woods play, we always want to see Tiger Woods play, but you could just see he was in agony trying to get around there and it wasn’t a surprise at all to be honest that he had to withdraw.” Butch Harmon on Tiger Woods at the 2023 Masters.

LIV Golf

Out of the players who finished in the top six in this tournament, half of them were from the PGA (Jon Rahm, Russell Henley, Jordan Spieth), and the other half from LIV (Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed). The league rivalry is coming in nicely. Despite my allegiance to the PGA, I can certainly see the argument for Majors becoming increasingly more interesting years down the road if/when LIV players ever become eligible for world-ranking points again.

It’s clear most of these guys probably possess some sort of disdain for anyone in the opposing league at this point, and it would potentially make for some extremely entertaining rivalries within the sport of golf in the near future. For this reason alone, I hope LIV golfers get world-ranking points again eventually. I’ll be honest, it was a blast watching Koepka blow it this week. Seemingly the entirety of the golf world was rooting against Brooks, and he didn’t disappoint in making Jon Rahm ten times the hero he would’ve been otherwise.

I really have never cared at all about Jon Rahm, but he was super easy to root for this week, knowing the alternative was Brooks Koepka. Having it come down to a PGA and a LIV golfer, made the decision of who to root for even easier. For the sake of sport and entertainment, there is almost certainly room for both of these leagues to co-exist, heck, it might even be fun.

Closing Notes

There’s something to be said I’m sure about Phil Mickelson’s performance to secure a T2 finish. Not sure anybody really expected that. Along with Lefty, there were a few other notable performances by Russell Henley, Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland, Shaith Theegala, and Patrick Reed, Cameron Young. Nothing to write home about for these guys though probably.

Jon Rahm started his round on Thursday with a double-bogey which included a 4-putt. He finished that round at 7-under which set the record for the best round in the history of the Masters that began with a double-bogey or worse.

Rahm was quoted afterward about the double bogey, blaming it on a surprising reason, his good friend and current NFL TE Zach Ertz.

“For those people who believe in jinxing, Thursday morning when I was getting on the golf cart to get to this putting green 10 minutes before my tee time, I saw a text from a good friend of mine, and I’m going to name him because he’s a Super Bowl winning champion, Zach Ertz,” Rahm said. “He sent the text, and I’m going to paraphrase here, but he said, ‘That first green looking like a walk in the park — or something like that — right now.’ Ten minutes before I four-putted to start the tournament. So thank you, Zach. Don’t ever do that again.” Jon Rahm jokingly blaming Zach Ertz for his tournament-opening double bogey.

To which Ertz replied:

“I apologize for absolutely nothing! You can expect these texts every major going forward my friend! Congratulations!”. Zach Ertz

The next major will be the PGA Championship starting May 18 at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. It’s got quite an act to follow.

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