It takes more than grit to win The Masters, and it’s more specific than it used to be. Adam Crawford predicts who will win and why it matters.
Beneath the Surface is peeling back the layers of this onion we call sports.
Between the years of 1997 and 2005, Augusta Nationa was perceived to be owned by one man. Sure a few lucky winners broke through during that time, but, all in all, Augusta belonged to Tiger Woods. He dominated those years, winning four out of the nine. But then something happened.
Augusta decided it didn’t want one man to own the rights to a green jacket forever. So they changed it. What might seem like a simple change to most casual golf fans, adding approximately 500 yards to the total length, was monumental in how players had to approach the course.
Golf is an introspective sport. It’s a sport that requires grave self-discipline and a drive to continually seek improvement. But with the changes made to the course after the 2005 tournament, some golfers just may not have a shot regardless of how they apply those principals. Let’s look at who has won since 2005.
Hard hitting left hander who loves to play a swinging slice (ball moving from right to left) and go after pins. When he’s putting well, he can sink them from any spot on the green.
Shorter hitter, but plays a constant trap-draw (again, right to left ball flight). Putts out of this world and a great short game to boot.
Also plays a sort of trap-draw, and he had an exceptional driving week at the 2008 Masters.
Power hitter that is the only one who truly plays a right-handed fade (left to right shot) on this list. Cabrera has kind of been the outlier in both of his major victories. The shot he hit out of the pine straw at Oakmont in 2007 was absolutely insane.
Again, plays a draw, hits it fairly long. Birdied the last four holes on Sunday (which is unheard of).
(See Phil Mickelson description)
One of the most fundamentally sound golf swings on the planet. Plays a draw and hits beautiful, crisp iron shots.
(See 2006, 2010, and 2012)
The golf course doesn’t set up for someone who hits a power fade. A fade doesn’t roll out as well, so it doesn’t travel as far due to the spin. It’s less accurate when the wind picks up, and the guys who hit fades can’t take advantage of the par-5s that go left, like numbers 2 and 15.
It’s not impossible for a player with a left-to-right ball flight to win. This is golf; anything can happen. But I’m saying the odd’s are stacked against those who don’t play a draw. Especially those who don’t hit it long OR play a draw.
Last year Tiger Woods missed the Masters due to injury, it was the first one he’d missed in 20 years. And though he has faired well at Augusta, even in the years since 2005 when he hasn’t had a victory, this isn’t his year. His short game is in shambles, and his confidence on the back nine on Sundays hasn’t been tested in a major in quite a while. But why should we care? Isn’t it time for Rory McIlroy to take his official place on the throne of golf? Or for Jordan Speith to swoop in like the Silver Surfer and ice McIlroy?
We have to care.
We have to care because Tiger Woods has changed the way golf is perceived by so many people around the world.
He changed the way we see any and all tournaments played on tour.
He changed the way people view winning margins.
And he’s changed the lifestyles of every single PGA Tour Professional since 1997.
Tiger Woods IS modern golf. And when the results of one man’s actions are so far reaching within a sport, we have no choice but to care what he does. The problem is, does Tiger care anymore?
In 2009, his life changed forever. His marriage ended shortly after and his golf swing has been picked apart and pieced together like a 1974 Beetle. But we care because golf is a redemption sport, and we want him to rise from the ashes. We want him to make one last run and validate what he’s validated 14 times since 1997—that’s he’s the greatest golfer who’s ever played the game.
We care because we don’t want to see an athlete with the world in the palm of his hands never recover from a career-ending scandal. And it doesn’t matter how many times he wins on tour now if it’s not a major, it doesn’t matter. The golfing world needs Tiger to win this week.
But sadly, he won’t. He’s just not there. And the course isn’t going to forgive him for not being prepared.
It’s going to be Patrick Reed. Between him and Jordan Speith, they have played some of the best golf in the world since last year’s Masters, but I don’t think Jordan is ready.
Reed will win the Masters this week, but we won’t love him like we do Tiger. He doesn’t command us too.
Photo: Flickr/Julie Campbell