By Brady Campbell, Staff Writer
The Masters has always been the pinnacle of the golfing season since its inception in 1934. With this year’s tournament came a lot of different storylines, including many players that have defected to the new LIV Golf Tour returning to this Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) event.
Players such as Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed were invited to play in this year’s Masters event.
Broadcasting alumni Ryan Boettcher was not surprised with the strong play or reception of the LIV golfers.
“I think that the LIV golfers themselves were going to be publicly shamed by people. The main issue with LIV is that players sold out to take more money with LIV Golf. Now with them returning for The Masters, which is the biggest tournament of the year, I would not have been surprised if they won, but I think that they would have been hated if they did,” he said.
Ray Garvey, a pro shop associate at the Pine Hollow Country Club in East Norwich, agreed with this sentiment.
“I felt like the LIV golfers were going to make an impact on the Masters, and I figured that a couple of them would contend for the title, which did end up happening,” he said.
The weather did not do the golfers any favors as the rain caused play to be suspended on both Friday and Saturday, April 7-8, meaning they had to make up holes the next day. Garvey believes that the weather definitely hurt the player’s game.
“Some golfers like to get into a routine and like things a certain way,” he said. “So once the delay happened, it threw some of them off.”
One particular golfer that was heavily affected by the weather was Tiger Woods. Woods, a five-time Masters champion at 47 years old, has had his career interrupted several times due to injury. This time he re-aggravated his plantar fasciitis.
Despite all of these injuries, Boettcher thinks that Woods still has some golf left in him.
“I think he will still play in the majors like he said he would. I’m going to say about five more years. Potentially when his son becomes a professional, I think that is when he will retire completely and pass it off to him,” he said. “That would be fun to watch.”
While the veterans continued to dominate on the course, a young amateur by the name of Sam Bennett shook up the tournament when the 23-year-old had a great start before dropping a little in the leaderboard in the final days, finishing tied for 16th at -2.
Although he dropped off a little at the end, Bennett opened a lot of eyes with his performance two years after losing his father to Alzheimer’s.
“I love the story with his father and his pursuit of becoming a golfer, but I do not really see him being a star or beating out these guys that are in LIV or the PGA. Never say never, but I don’t see it happening. He had a great run on the first day or two though,” Boettcher said.
One of the LIV golfers that caught the eye of many was Phil Mickelson, who has won the Masters three times. Against all odds, the 52-year-old had an incredible final round to come from behind and finish tied for second with Koepka.
Garvey believes that Mickelson proved that he still has some good golf left in him.
“Phil is getting up there in years, and I think he has been lucky with no major injuries, and he isn’t getting any younger. I believe he can play at a high level for three to five more years,” he said.
Koepka, who had a four-stroke lead on Jon Rahm heading into the final day of play, seemed to be in a good spot. However, a string of bad holes cost him the victory, and he ended up losing by four strokes.
“I’m not worried about Koepka at all,” said Garvey. “Brooks is one of the better majors players we’ve ever seen. He had an off day, and Jon Rahm deserved it.”
Jon Rahm, the 28-year-old from Spain, had only one major victory, the 2021 U.S. Open. Rahm has always been in the mix in a lot of tournaments, but previously the victories had eluded him. He finished tied for fifth in the 2021 Masters and fourth in the 2018 Masters, the closest he came to a green jacket before this year.
Boettcher believes that this win will help Rahm continue to be a force in the PGA for years to come.
“I think that he is going to have a strong run for the next five years. He has proven that he can do basically everything at a top-tier level. He came back and played a consistent game,” he said. “He capitalized when Koepka failed, and he has shown that he is by far the best golfer in the world right now, and I don’t see anything that can change it.”
Be First to Comment