All of America, myself included, were glued to their televisions throughout last Sunday morning and into the early afternoon as Tiger Woods hung atop the Masters Tournament leaderboard. Woods’ play was spectacular. He hit amazing shot after amazing shot, including a beautiful tee shot on the famed par-3 16th hole that set him up for an easy birdie putt.

He would go on to par the 17th hole and bogey the 18th hole to secure his first Masters championship in 14 years and his first major in 11 years.

Still, even with Tiger’s greatness on the back nine, his victory shouldn’t have happened.

Golf is a funny sport. Usually in a tournament of this magnitude, a few things happen to help the eventual victor win: tragedy and crucial mistakes by one or more players, great golf by the winner, and a bit of luck from outside forces. All three were in effect on Sunday in Augusta.

Yes, the win was spectacular. And yes, the golf Tiger played on that back nine was clutch. But, the “Golf Gods” put misfortune on all the contenders other than Woods and willed Tiger to victory.

The leader to open the day was Italian Francesco Molinari at 13-under par. He had played magnificent golf through the first three rounds.

If Molinari didn’t play himself out of the tournament, we would probably be talking about how Tiger was so close again, but couldn’t finish the deal.

The front nine was uncharacteristically shaky from the 2018 British Open Champion. On multiple occasions, Molinari was forced to save par with brilliant approaches and fantastic pitch shots after poor tee shots. He shot even on the front nine while Woods shot one under and pulled to within a stroke of the 63 hole leader.

The back nine is where Molinari’s shakiness came back to bite him. He had only one bogey in the first 54 holes. It happened on the 11th hole back in the first round. Molinari would hold it together this time, but then tragedy struck on the 12th hole.

Molinari put it into the drink on the par-3 hole and had to take a double bogey, bringing his score down to 11-under par and opening up the tournament for everyone in the last two pairings.

Woods took immediate advantage birding on the 13th (12-under par). Koepka threw himself back into the mix hitting birdie on the par-5 15th hole (12-under par).

Woods would pull away on the 15th and 16th holes, birding both and getting to 14-under par. He would bogey the 18th hole to win the tournament by a stroke at 13-under par.

Woods needed help from Molinari, who played himself out of the tournament. Molinari, as I mentioned, double bogeyed the 12th hole, but then would double bogey again on the par five 15th hole. Molinari shot a 2-over par on the back nine, his worst nine hole performance in the entire tournament. He shot a 74 (2-over par) for the round, another tournament low.

If Molinari didn’t play himself out of the tournament, we would probably be talking about how Tiger was so close again, but couldn’t finish the deal.

Then there’s the whole Koepka situation. He double bogeyed the 12th (as Molinari did), but recovered with an eagle on the par five 13th. Fast forward to the 18th hole – he has a nine foot putt for birdie. This would put him at 13-under par; one stroke back of Tiger. Koepka overestimated the run of the green, and missed the putt slightly to the left. He would tap in for par and finish at 12-under par, which, at the time, was two strokes back of Tiger (14-under par) and good enough for a tie of second.

Koepka’s missed birdie putt opened the door for Tiger. The two stroke cushion meant that Wood’s could bogey the 18th hole and still win the tournament. Wood’s cut his tee shot right. The ball lied right on the edge of the fairway and the rough. Tiger would iron his way near the green on his second shot. He then, would chip on to the green, and two putt for bogey.

Tiger’s win was completely set up by the dismal play of his counterparts. Even if Kopka just bogeys on the 12th hole and everything stays the same, then that puts Brooks at 13-under par, one off the lead, as Tiger tees off the 18th hole. And, assuming that Tiger bogeys the 18th hole, the two would have to play in a playoff.

Now take away Molinari’s second double bogey (the one that occured on the 15th hole when he hit a tree branch), and assuming that everything plays out exactly the same way, he too would’ve finished with a 13-under par. Now we are looking at a three-way playoff, and who knows what happens then.

The theories go on and on, but the point remains the same. An insane amount of misfortune had to fall upon everyone not named Tiger Woods in order for Woods to win his fifth Green Jacket.

Yes, it’s true, that if Molinari and Koepka had executed better down the stretch, Woods probably would’ve approached the 18th hole differently, but still, everything that occured allowed for Tiger to be extra cautious on his approach to the final green.

Nevertheless, the golf that was played last weekend was some of the best golf we have seen from Tiger since his first injury, and it’s only fitting that he came out victorious once again.

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This is my third year as a part of 42Fifty. I have served as Sports Editor and Managing Editor prior to this year. I am the play by play announcer for underclassmen sports here at OHS, and the color commentator for the varsity football and both varsity basketball teams. I also announce for the NFHS Network throughout the football and basketball playoffs.


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