5 things we learned from the Masters
Tiger Woods is back to chase Jack Nicklaus’ record, but Rory McIlroy’s wait goes on.
Tiger Woods claimed his 15th major title after a gap of 11 years with a thrilling victory in the 83rd Masters.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things we learned from the first major of the year at Augusta National.
Woods is back
Of course we already knew he was to some extent following his close calls in last year’s Open Championship and US PGA, as well as his victory in the Tour Championship. However, another poor Ryder Cup performance contributed to the nagging, lingering doubt that Woods would ever add to his tally of major titles after being stuck on 14 since the 2008 US Open. That doubt was erased by Sunday’s triumph and Woods will be the predominant figure in golf again for as long as he remains healthy.
Nobody does it better
Child prodigy ↩️— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 15, 2019
World's biggest sports star ↩️
Fallen idol ↩️
Looking back over the career of @TigerWoods.
The manner of Woods’s victory was just as important as the win itself, highlighting the fact that when it comes to winning major championships, nobody in the modern era knows how to get over the line better. Despite ranking tied 47th for driving accuracy – and getting lucky not to find real trouble on several occasions – Woods was first in greens in regulation and the final round was a classic example of keeping himself in contention until the birdie opportunities arose on the back nine and his rivals began to implode.
The record is in sight
Woods clarified recently that the famed chart of Jack Nicklaus’s achievements he had on his bedroom wall as a child were to do with amateur records rather than his 18 major titles. But make no mistake, Woods is now taking aim at that total and has previously won major titles at the next two venues – Bethpage Black for the US PGA next month and Pebble Beach for the US Open in June. Woods has not played the Open Championship venue of Royal Portrush but enjoys links conditions and will be relishing the test.
McIlroy’s search goes on
Rory McIlroy's tee shot comes to rest in...a golf cart. pic.twitter.com/bN4rnAgfFo— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 12, 2019
Rory McIlroy was the bookmakers’ favourite and arrived in some of the best form of his life, including a victory in the Players Championship at Sawgrass. The 29-year-old revealed juggling and meditation were part of his preparations but was never in contention after an opening 73 and may now play the week before next year’s Masters after complaining of not being sharp enough. McIlroy insists the pressure of chasing a career grand slam is not a factor, but that is getting increasingly difficult to believe.
Experience of Augusta remains vital
Only three of the world’s top 20 at the start of the week had previously won a green jacket and one of them, Woods of course, ended the week as champion. He is not afraid to employ a conservative strategy where necessary, focusing on exploiting the scoring opportunities on the par fives and avoiding double bogeys at all costs. While Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Ian Poulter all attacked the pin on the 12th in the final round and found the water, Woods played safely to the middle of the green. He also hit the ideal spot on the 16th green, using the slope to send his ball back towards the pin for a decisive birdie.