Bandwagoning the Big Ones: 2016 Masters

IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE! The best possible excuse to not help unpack at my new place IS HEREEEEE!

The Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club starts today and it comes just in time for me avoid hanging up the clothes that have been in trash bags since last Friday.

But seriously, I’m super excited. It was right around this time last year that I started to really take my own golf skills seriously, which resulted in lessons and a few angry blog posts. Today was also the tipping point for one of the best years of golf ever (for a new fan) since Jordan Spieth, one of my faves since day one, took hold of the Masters lead and rode that pony to the finish line. The wire-to-wire win was the first of four major tournament rampages – even though he won only (ONLY, she says) two of the four, he barely lost the others.

This year, everyone is gunning for Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Jordan or insert-golfer-here, based on the direction of the wind and the birdie count. No one can make up their mind. Resident Cinderella story Jason Day had back-to-back wins, including the WGC Dell Match Play, so everyone is freaking out about him…while failing to remember that Adam Scott also won in two consecutive weeks just before that.

Then you have your purists – those who think Jordan can repeat what he did last year because he’s Jordan (completely disregarding his rollercoaster play these last few weeks). The McIlroy lovers are similar – they seem to think that Rory can do anything at any course regardless of current form, because he’s hungry for the Grand Slam.

It’s a free-for-all. For what it’s worth, I’m gunning for Rickie Fowler, but that has more to do with my irrational crush than anything based in logic.

More updates to come as we get rolling.

Wednesday: Par 3

RICKIE AND JUSTIN WITH THE BACK-TO-BACK ACES! I had to sign myself out of Twitter to stop myself from retweeting every photo of them celebrating.

Thursday – Friday: Here’s the thing.

We’ve had it out with Comcast because they’ve delivered our cable box to the wrong person TWICE. Meaning I don’t have cable for Masters week.

Luckily, I’ve been able to pass off the live stream as a VERY interesting webinar at work, so I’m getting by. Not only that, but my Twitter feed might as well be Golf Channel in tweet form. I’m able to catch glimpses, but right now, all I know is that Rickie imploded with a round of 80 (and made this joke about it on Twitter) and that Jordan is still in the lead after Friday’s round.

And frankly, that’s all I need to know.

Saturday: Still no cable, but I’ve found a sports bar with the coverage on and I’m silently raging into my quesadillas because I can’t hear the commentary.

For those of you wondering why I don’t just live stream, I’m out and about today doing adult things. Worst possible timing for that, but weekends are the only available time to get things done after my big move. Alas, I’m stuck with crappy streams when I’m in the car and the occasional bar pit stop for some corn dogs.

I’m getting a little nervous about all the coverage – the round itself isn’t particularly exciting, but reading articles on Golf Digest’s Facebook and the like, it’s obvious that people think Jordan has this in the bag.

After every birdie, someone is tweeting something like, “So, does Jordan put the green jacket on himself, or…how does this work?”

Even the booth and analysts during the broadcast are having trouble hiding their man-crushes, because all they want to talk about is golf’s Golden Child. I love Jordan too, and want nothing more than to see him do this two years in a row, but let’s slow down and realize that he’s got an entire field of men behind him, trying to unhorse the prodigy.

Jordan is still leading at the end of the round. If nothing else, the headlines will be great tomorrow.

Sunday: OH MY GOD, THE 12TH HOLE.

So I’m sitting in a Red Robin, after flirting my way into a channel change (the kid at the counter seemed absolutely floored that a female would not only ask for golf coverage, but that she knew words like “Masters”, “Spieth” and “back nine.”). I’ve managed to miss most of the front nine, but I know via Twitter that Jordan’s got a five shot lead and most of the others are struggling.

So I’m shoveling this salad into my mouth, having missed twice (once while the server was making eye contact with me), and I’m stress-guzzling this root beer because Spieth has bogeyed 10 and 11.

He still has a lead, though, so we’re okay.

And then…and then it happened. He found water, but you know what? That’s fine. The kid still has six holes left and one of them (16) is playing ridiculously well. But then he pulled the move that all amateurs recognize. The “I’m super pissed at myself, so I’m going to take my anger out on a large chunk of ground under my ball” move, and found water AGAIN.

Back nine through three holes –> bogey, bogey, QUAD bogey.

I might cry in public.

At this point, we have to leave the restaurant, and part of me is feeling like this is all my fault. He was having a dream round before the turn…before I sat down to watch. Maybe if I leave and ignore the coverage, he can get back some control of this round.

(About 40 minutes later) No, no he can’t. Even though he missed an easy birdie putt on 16, I still had faith that he could go birdie-birdie or miraculously hit an eagle to force a playoff. But…no.

Danny Willett is the new Masters champion, just the fourth Englishman to don the green jacket. Poor Jordan was so shell-shocked that he damn near fell over when he stood up at the ceremony and his face after the fact was akin to someone who just watched his mother shoot his dog.

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I’m devastated for him – he’s been a favorite of mine since day one, and he’s such a great person and golfer. He deserves all the success in the world, but at the end of the day, some of the carefully crafted Under Armour seams started to unravel, and we’re presented with a learning experience instead of a trophy.

But what people need to realize before they start inevitably bashing Spieth on social media is that he’s 22 years old. He’s played the Masters three times in his career and hasn’t finished worse than second place. He’s a class act – even after a gut-wrenching loss, he took everyone’s questions and fought back tears while he mentally relived what should have been a victory lap.

When I was 22 years old (*cough* two years ago *cough*) I wasn’t fully immersed in my career yet and was spending more time worried about dates and bills than anything else. I didn’t have my shit together – and could make a compelling argument that I still don’t. But this kid has already seen more success than most pro athletes do in a career and certainly more than most of us mortals, many of whom would have just been graduating college.

I’m going to have to do some social media gymnastics to avoid the internet stupidity tomorrow (and the urge to jump in and defend him…it’s just not worth it), but I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. He’s got a couple majors he still needs to bag for the Grand Slam, and if this weekend was any indication, he’s still in the hunt.

In the meantime, I’m going to watch some of the “I didn’t make the cut, but I’m still having a lovely time” snapchats from Rickie Fowler and fantasize about the days when I’ll live in Florida and get to write about the Tour full time. I can dream.


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