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Six big Masters talking points – part one: The Irish – Irish Golfer Magazine

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Before the PGA Championship moved to May, the wait between ‘Glory’s Last Shot’ and the ‘Tradition unlike any other’ seemed protracted, but with the additional month between the Open Championship and the Masters, it now seems interminable.

If a week is a long time in politics, nine months is a lifetime in golf, but after the sport has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, it’s time to focus on what really matters. That golfing temple in Augusta, Georgia, the history, the drama, the best players in the world coming together and locking horns in the quest for that iconic green jacket, and with it, sporting immortality. As the week-to-week offerings of professional golf continue to underwhelm, certain events transcend to whole new levels. This is it. This is sport. This is the hallowed turf. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. This is the Masters. Amen to that!

Six big Masters talking points

Every year, the Masters throws up more talking points than we’ve pages in this issue to cover. But we’ve narrowed it down to the six biggest as the storied Georgian venue will once again be the green battleground on which dreams are made, on which heroes are crowned, and on which hearts are broken.

Q1 – Why is the Masters the only major not to have an Irish name on the roll of honour?

Ever since Padraig Harrington made the major breakthrough at Carnoustie in 2007, we’ve been spoiled. Nine more major titles would follow over the next dozen years, leaving the count at five Open Championships, three PGA Championships and two US Open titles.

Since Rory McIlroy accounts for four of those 10 major titles, Rory’s failure to tame Augusta National – as will be covered later – is a large part of the reason, but neither Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke nor Shane Lowry have been able to manage it either, leaving a Masters win as the Holy Grail for Irish golf.

Harrington has finished in the top-10 four times, his best chance coming in 2007 when he entered the final round two shots back and in the penultimate pairing, shooting a final-round one-over 73 and seeing Zach Johnson, who’d started the day level with Harrington, take the spoils with a 69.
Clarke’s best finish was a tie for 8th on debut in 1998, but with Tiger Woods hoping to make it three-in-a-row in 2003, Clarke raced to a three-stroke lead after day one before fading over the following three rounds.

It’s a course that’s never really been kind to McDowell, who’s missed the cut in seven of his 10 Masters appearances, but the same can’t be said for Lowry. The 2019 Open champion has finished in the top-25 in each of his last four Masters starts, finishing tied for third in 2022, which remains the second-best Irish performance ever behind McIlroy’s solo-second the same year. He also has the honour of being one of just 33 players in Masters history to record a hole-in-one, hitting an 8-iron to the par-3 16th in 2016, 12 years after Harrington became the first Irishman to manage the feat, hitting 6-iron to the same hole in 2004.

Similar to McIlroy, Lowry has all the weapons to be a Masters champion and is a proven man for the big occasion. It’s just a case of putting it all together.

The above feature appeared in the 2024-3 edition or Irish Golfer. To view the full edition click below

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