Jeremy Ellwood enjoyed a Saturday night ‘Masters of old’ viewing experience and found Augusta National to be back to its absorbing best
With the family all away, I had the chance last night to immerse myself in my most complete Masters viewing experience for many years, especially after I had miraculously found a way to hook my laptop up to the telly!
And it didn’t disappoint, did it, despite not going the way Rory fans would have hoped. There was little to choose from really between him and Spieth in the dream final pairing, as both struggled off the tee and failed to show why they are ranked two and three in the world. The only real difference was that Spieth got away with his wild tee-shots more (the 3rd and the 7th) and putted infinitely better, holing a string of 5- to 10-footers to keep himself comfortably out front for most of the round.
However, as Lee Trevino once famously said, pros who putt for pars don’t last long, and eventually his raggedness got too much for even his miraculous putting stroke, with doubles coming at 11, and most critically, 18 bringing a whole bunch of other players right back into it on Sunday.
Rory couldn’t buy a putt and struggled with a hook at times, but will be buoyed by the two-shot swing on the 18th hole that keeps him in it if he can find a final round like last year’s 66.
Jason Day is right in the mix too after finally finding a way to get round the back nine, and he will start just three back in the company of Dustin Johnson, so expect some monstrous hitting from that pairing.
But, of course, most compelling of all was Bernhard Langer who gradually went from a nice little sub-plot to the lead story as a third-round 70 put him in the mix for a third Masters at 58 years of age, which would blow Jack Nicklaus’s ‘oldest to win a Masters’ title away by 12 years.
Could he conceivably do it? Let’s just hope his weak cut off the 18th tee last night was simply end-of-round fatigue rather than a sign of a disappointing Sunday to come. He will no doubt have been praying hard for more wind on Sunday as that would appear to give him his best shot.
Indeed, much like an Open Championship, it seems that what the Masters really needs to be at its absorbing best is a little wind, and Saturday for me had a real feel of those Masters of old where you just couldn’t drag yourself away from the set even for calls of nature.
With things now so tightly bunched at the top after Spieth’s final-hole double, it should make for a highly entertaining final day, regardless of what the weather does and what the men at Augusta decide to do over the accessibility or otherwise of the flags. GM has gone for Dustin Johnson and Lee Westwood, who had one of Saturday’s best rounds, among its final-round betting tips.
But a word of warning: with several of the game’s – how shall we say this – most deliberate players right at the very top of the board, don’t expect to be in bed particularly early tonight!