Hardy: Recapping the Story of the 2018 Masters Tournament
It’s time to recap the Masters, and I need a template. Good, bad, ugly? Par, bogey, birdie? Both of those would work, but let’s not get too cute.
Instead, I’ll focus in on 3 guys who, for better or worse, were the story of this tournament.
Patrick Reed put on a clinic in virtually every aspect of the game to win his first major; he averaged 299.1 yards in driving distance (6th overall) finished 2nd in PP GIR (putts per greens-in-regulation) and led the field in birdies (22).
While many of his fellow competitors struggled on the par 5s in the first 3 rounds, he played them in 13 under par. His final round 71 was a study in patience, consistency, and strategy. He did nothing to jeopardize his lead on route to a 1 stroke victory, because he knew that winning by one is still winning.
But he didn’t seem to win over the Augusta crowds – excuse me, “patrons.” From my vantage point on the couch back in Boston, it appeared they were too busy cheering for 2 other guys who provided the real excitement on Sunday.
Rickie Fowler fired a final round 67 and fired up the galleries in the process. This guy is easy to root for. He’s a young, friendly, good looking guy who crushes the ball despite being 5’9” and 150 lbs soaking wet. Plus, he made a charge on the incoming holes as if he were out to prove the adage that the Masters begins on the back nine on Sunday.
A birdie at the par 3 12th hole got it started. Two more on the par 5s, 13 and 15. The 3 he made on the 18th capped an incoming score of 32 on the back nine, and had it been any other venue, people would’ve lost their minds. But, this being Augusta National, they were mindful of their surroundings and merely cheered. Until…
Jordan Spieth. This was the best surprise moment on Sunday. Spieth birdied 16 to move into a tie with Reed at 14 under par. The guy operating the old school scoreboard near the 18th green was caught on camera peeking out of the head-sized hole before he posted the number, and when he put the red “14” in place, that’s when people lost their minds. The excitement for Spieth continued right up until his par putt didn’t find the cup on the 72nd hole that would’ve given him a 63, and everyone realized that Reed would in fact be the one putting on the green jacket.
As Reed made his routine final par, I was reminded of “Without Limits,” the movie about distance runner Steve Prefontaine. In the film, a race announcer sums up an event with the line, “one man made the race, and another man won it.”
The 2018 Masters was won by Reed, but we should thank Fowler and Spieth for making it worth watching.
— By Rob “Hardy” Poole, 98.5 The Sports Hub
You can hear Hardy’s thoughts weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. ET on the Zolak & Bertrand program. As well as the Sports Hub Golf Club every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET during the season. Follow him on Twitter @HardyRadio.