19th Hole

Greg Ellis
Great Golf Academy
Goodyear, AZ

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Hang Tough and They Will Falter

Masters golf week is my favorite week of the year. The first major of the year happens, Spring is in the air and the Azaleas are in bloom. This year was probably the deepest field for potential Masters Champions that I can remember. There were only 87 players in the field and there were at least twenty players with the chance to win.  

Thursday started out with the traditional first shots by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and now it is time for the players to do their jobs. Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka were your first round leaders. Brooks is the new major king and it looked like he was on his way to another major win. 

In the second round, Brooks was still on top of the leaderboard, now joined by Adam Scott, Louie Oousthuizen, Jason Day and Francesco Molinari with the leaderboard getting crowded at the top. Five guys were co-leading for the first time ever in the history of the Masters. Now you add in Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and South African Justin Harding just one shot back. Who will be the 2019 Masters Champion? As we moved toward Saturday, the plot thickened. Enter one more element, Mother Nature became a competitor in this year’s Masters. Rain was in the forecast and talk turned to when the event would be completed. 

Saturday, moving day, was everything that we could ask for in the first major of the year. This was a leaderboard like no other. Saturday was exactly what we anticipated. Guys were moving up and down the leaderboard and then the five, 3rd round leaders turned into one outright leader, Francesco Molinari and Tiger still lurking 2 shots back. This is not a very big lead going into the final round and we have all seen these leads disappear quickly on Sunday. However, you have the hottest player in the world in control. Then the announcement that the starting times were moved up, due to a stormy forecast, and the field would be playing in threesomes. This was going to be weird for the leaders to play in threesomes and going off 3 hours earlier than normal.

Evidently the word traveled quickly to the patrons and the early start was not a deterrent for them to arrive at the golf course to exalt the greatest players in the world. Tiger’s wake up call came at 3:45 a.m. to allow him time to warm up for his 9:29 starting time. Tiger arrived at the golf course in his traditional red and black attire and it was a pro-Tiger crowd.  

They say that the Masters actually begins on the back nine on Sunday, and this year’s Masters was no exception. Francesco appeared to be in control with his 2 shot lead over Tiger. Many guys would move closer to the lead and then it happened. Francesco “blinked”; however, he wasn’t the first. After playing 65 holes and only making 2 bogeys, he did the unthinkable. How many times have we seen the leaders back up? Francesco rinsed his tee shot on the 12th hole along with 3 others in contention in the last two groups. After Francesco made a double bogey on 12, the entire complexion for what would transpire over the next 6 holes was quite shocking. Tiger was now a co-leader. There were 3 or four lead changes before Tiger took charge. He would birdie 13, 15 and 16 to have a two shot lead going into the 18th hole. Tiger stayed in his game plan and even planned for a bogey on the final hole to secure his fifth Green Jacket; the first in 14 years and his first major in 11 years.

Brooks, Dustin, Xander charged up the leaderboard to try and over take the “Big Cat”. None of these guys were around 14 years ago to experience the Tiger effect.  They all got a taste of it and now know that Tiger is back. Tiger plodding along and being patient paid big dividends. Each guy took a shot at Tiger and couldn’t take him down. What a great finish!

Thus begs the questions, will Tiger catch Jack’s 18 professional major championships? Is Tiger the G.O.A.T? Can Tiger win the Grand Slam this year? Is this the greatest comeback in Sports history? Will Tiger dominate again?  

You will have to answer these questions amongst yourselves and your friends, as this will be my final writing in the last issue of Arizona Golfer. Nancy Howard has been keeping you up to date on Arizona golf, great golf tips from many local golf professionals and reviews of excellent golf destinations for over 27 years. It has been an honor to have this platform to share my tips and my opinions through the 19th Hole or my column each month for the past 18 years. The Arizona Golfer has been an icon complimentary publication keeping you informed. Unfortunately, all things must come to an end and this ends on top of the media publications list. Thank you Nancy, you are the true Masters Champion.

Remember to tune into Arizona SPORTS 98.7 FM every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 9:00 for the Bunker to Bunker Golf Show for more tips, updates on all of the week’s golfing news in the Valley and around the world. Join Greg, Marty Monaghan and Jim Hill for a comprehensive look at the golf world for the week. You can also catch them on the Arizona Sports App. or the Internet by going to www.arizonasports.com. Also, remember to go to www.bunkergolf.com for all information about their Bunker Club, the Bunker Tour and if you missed a show live, listen to their replays posted on BunkerGolf.com.