Wyatt Cushman, Staff Writer |
The 2017 Masters was clearly missing someone on Thursday morning when Arnold Palmer did not join Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus on the first tee. For years the trio had all teed off on the first hole to begin the tournament, a tradition everyone enjoyed across the golfing world. Instead, this year’s Masters Chairman Billy Payne escorted Kit, Palmer’s widow, alongside the two legendary golfers to honor Palmer, a four time Masters champion. A moment of silence was held for him before Nicklaus and Player hit their shots to officially begin the season’s first major tournament for the sport.
As the players started to get a feel for the course and the first round was well underway, we learned that one of the favorites to win would not be competing. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson slipped and fell down the stairs, injuring his lower back and elbow on Wednesday night less than 24 hours before he was set to tee off. Johnson came to the course and warmed up on Thursday to see if his back was strong enough to play, but he withdrew just before his scheduled tee time. With Johnson not competing, that meant guys like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy were now seen as the favorites to walk away wearing the green jacket. Spieth was hoping to forget last year’s collapse on Sunday at Augusta and Rory was hoping to complete the career Grand Slam.
However, one unfamiliar name was seen atop the leaderboard after each of the first three rounds. Charley Hoffman, a no-name player coming into the weekend, was more than just competing at The Masters; he was winning. Hoffman shot an incredible 65 in windy conditions on Thursday and held the lead going into the weekend. His luck would run out on Sunday, as two well-known players took center stage and pulled away from the rest of the field.
Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia were the final grouping on Sunday and they did not disappoint for fans looking for a dramatic finish. Rose held a one-shot lead with two holes to play and no signs of slowing down. On seventeen, Rose missed a putt and opened the door for Garcia, who had now tied things up as the two headed to the 18th tee. After both men did exactly the same thing on 18, with their shots landing within a few yards of one another, the tournament needed a playoff to determine its winner. The deciding factor came on the next tee, the 18th which also served as the first playoff hole. Rose put his shot right, a place you want to avoid on the 18th hole at Augusta National.
Garcia kept his straight and true, and would finish with a birdie in the playoff to win this year’s Masters. This was Sergio Garcia’s first major tournament win in 73 career starts and was Rose’s second time placing second in the last three years. As is the case in all sports there can only be one winner, and this year it was Sergio Garcia. He became the first Spaniard to win The Masters since 1999, the year Garcia made his Masters debut.