The Masters has just concluded, with great results for some, while not so great scores for others. But, from the tournament, we learned four key things:
1. Jordan Spieth is the new face of golf
Even though Jordan Spieth is only 21 years old, he could just be the next Arnold Palmer.
Spieth won the 2015 Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia, with a score of 18 under. At the end, he was four strokes ahead of Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson. In addition, he broke the 36-hole record, 54-hole record, and tied with Tiger Woods for the 72-hole record (he was 19 under after 71 holes, but he bogeyed the last hole of the tournament). Furthermore, in his first round, he catapulted to the lead with a score of eight under.
He has also been dominant for the last few tournaments. Since March 12, excluding the Masters, he has played three tournaments, with spectacular results. He won the Valspar Championship, while placing second at the Texas Open and Houston Open. This calendar year, Spieth has played in nine tournaments. Minus the Farmers Insurance Tournament, when he missed the cut, his worst finish was 17th at the WGC Cadillac Tournament. In the other seven tournaments, he has placed in the top ten.
Spieth is ranked number two in the world right now. If he keeps excelling, he will be number one.
2. Tiger Woods is back
Tiger Woods has been slipping lately. After missing the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open, his world ranking slipped to 104, his worst since his rookie year in 1996. His Masters finish, though, showed that he is still dominant.
At the Masters, Tiger Woods finished 17th with a score of five under. Even though his first round was one under, and he was in danger of missing the cut again, Woods recovered with a spectacular second round, turning in a score of three under. The third round, he did even better. In that round, he hit six birdies en route to a score of four under. And, even though he was one over on the final round due to a bogey on the 18th hole, he had a spectacular 13th hole.
On the 13th, Woods hit two drives which were reminiscent of the vintage Tiger Woods. These drives led him to ideal ball location, which led to an eagle. It was his first eagle of the tournament, and not even Spieth hit an eagle for the tournament.
Even with a relatively low score for the tournament (the top five ranged from 18 under to 11 under), Woods showed that he can still hit the ball well.
3. Rory McIlroy is the best golfer…not from the United States
Rory McIlroy was on a tear last season, winning the Open Championship (British Open) and PGA Championship. He also placed eighth in the Masters that year, and only needed a Masters win to complete the career Grand Slam, since he won the US Open in 2011. However, this year, he faltered again.
McIlroy was only two under for the first two rounds of the Masters, but finished 12 under. Still, he finished in fourth place.
McIlroy has not done poorly lately, but has also not done well. This year, he has participated in four tournaments on the PGA tour. In these tournaments, his highest place was ninth at the WGC Cadillac Tournament, and missed the cut at the Honda Classic. In addition, he has not won since the PGA Championship last year. Thus, even though he might be the best golfer outside of the United States, he cannot compete with Jordan Spieth.
4. Even with Spieth and McIlroy ruling the golf world, a new batch of youngsters could take over.
Even though Spieth and McIlroy are one-two in the PGA Tour, a new group is emerging to challenge them at the top.
There is a group of great golfers, all 30 years old or younger, that could challenge Spieth and McIlroy in any competition. These include Russell Henley, Hideki Matsuyama, and Dustin Johnson.
Henley only placed 21st in the Masters with a score of three under. However, he is ranked 50th in the PGA tour and placed in the top ten in three tournaments last year. Even though he has not showed spectacular results yet, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Matsuyama, a rookie, placed fifth in the Masters with a great score of eleven under. He is ranked 26th in the world, and finished T-3 at the Frys.com Open and T-4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And, let me remind you, he is only a rookie. With such good results this young, he should get even better as he gets older.
Finally, Dustin Johnson. He placed sixth in the Masters with a score of nine under. He also won the WGC Cadillac Championship and was second at the Northern Trust Open. He is sixth in the world, and remains the biggest American threat to dethrone Spieth.