Although the official start of the season occurred several weeks ago, for the avid, but not overly obsessive golf fan, there is no better starting gun in the game of golf then the tight fairways, lighting quick greens and infamous Amen corner that is Augusta National.
For the fans, the excitement begins during the March stops on the PGA tour. This is not overly based on an interest in who wins these tournaments, but is instead because these tournaments allows us to begin our analysis of whose game is peaking in preparation of golf’s greatest Major Championship.
For the players, the Masters facilitates their shot at greatness, a greatness that can never be erased once they don the green jacket and join the ranks of Professional Golf’s Elite.
It is safe to say that there is no greater golf tournament than the Masters, so many players come to Augusta with questions, questions that can only be answered after 72 holes alongside the blooming Azalea’s and holding court under the Big Oak Tree. As each hole possesses a unique name, these holes also carry with them a plethora of unique stories about the greatness that has been witnessed therein. From Tiger Woods chip in on the 16th, to Gene Sarazen’s “Shot Heard round the World,” the stories held within the ropes can only be justified by the awe that Augusta National commands.
Influenced by the memories of numerous golfers who have captured their first major championship at Augusta National, questions begin to arise on whether other highly touted, yet relatively unaccomplished players, will be able to finally rise above their struggle and capture this major championship.
As each year passes Sergio Garcia, who now holds the infamous title of the best player to never win a major, is one such story. One cannot ignore the urgency he must feel come each new April in his finally living up to his potential.
The Masters has the ability to bring out the best in some of the PGA’s unknown golfers who play like they have nothing to prove, because in reality, they don’t. In doing so, golfers like Charles Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman forge their way through four rounds relatively unnoticed. Their accomplishment is only unveiled when the roar on 18 signifies that the crowd has finally acknowledged that the Masters has once again provided a golden opportunity for the beloved underdog.
Although it is difficult to predict what unknown player will challenge this year, Master’s rookie and two- time PGA champion, Webb Simpson may just be naïve enough to pull it off.
The Crown Awaits
Despite all of the storylines that can and will define this year’s Masters, there is one that stands above all the rest. Although this story will not be answered completely come April 8, there will be a substantial basis for us to finally determine who the greatest golfer in the world is.
In the forefront of this question as always is Tiger Woods. As the Masters served as Tigers initial statement when he won in 1997 by an amazing 12 strokes, it is hard to ignore that perhaps the 2012 Masters will serve as his reclamation of the title of greatest golfer ever.
A Heir Apparent Has Arisen
Each year we all hope for a new name to arise that will challenge for the right to be named the heir apparent to Wood’s long time domination.
In this quest, one challenger has arisen above the rest, a man with a gregarious personality, resolve of steel and a pedigree that should result in many Major Championships in years to come.
Rory McIlroy is playing golf with a vengeance leading up to this year’s Masters. With three top 3 finishes on the PGA tour this year, including a win at the Honda Classic and a runner-up in the Accenture Match Play Championship, one cannot discount that the Master’s may serve as the start of his tenure on top of the golfing world.
However, despite the optimism surrounding his game, McElroy’s has still must disprove that his 2011 final round collapse in the Masters does not overshadow the talent he possesses.
One can only imagine the excitement that will ensue if on Sunday the golfing world is thoroughly rewarded by witnessing a match play like scenario between the likes of McElroy and Woods as they vie to capture the throne of golfing supremacy.
Regardless of the golf that transpires after Arnold Palmer’s drive has landed in the middle of the fairway on Thursday, we can all rest assured that despite the rapid change that occurs in the golfing world, the history of this great game will walk hand in hand with the future when the 2012 Masters unfolds before our eager eyes.