The final putt of the 2023 Masters has been sunk. What are some of the biggest storylines to come out of the tournament?
After much buildup and anticipation, the 2023 Masters Tournament has officially come to a conclusion. It has been a contentious year in golf with rising stars, falling stars, a new league and more all making headlines, but everyone can come together to appreciate golf’s most prestigious tournament and those who compete. Let’s go over some of the biggest storylines from the event as well as some possibilities going forward.
Rahm Takes the Green Jacket
Though it may not look like Jon Rahm was sweating toward the end of the final round, he certainly earned his win at the 87th Masters Tournament. Rahm has held the No. 1 ranking in the world at certain points in his career, but he entered the tournament in third. He now sits atop the leaderboard and is followed closely by Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy. This is Rahm’s second major win and arguably the biggest tournament win of his young career. The 28-year-old closed a four-shot gap between himself and Brooks Koepka to take home the first green jacket of his career, continuing his path toward legendary status in the sport.
The Big Cat Drops Out
Though Tiger Woods was able to tough it out and make the cut at the 2023 Masters, he wasn’t able to hang in much longer. Between the rain, the cold weather, struggling play and his injury, he couldn’t quite make it through the entire tournament. After play was suspended on Saturday, he had only finished seven holes in his third round. He then dropped out Sunday morning with 29 holes to go. He still showed moments of his past brilliance, but between his physical condition and the conditions brought on by Mother Nature, he never strung much momentum together and was difficult to watch in his final moments of the weekend. What comes next is still a mystery, but golf fans are sure to follow Woods no matter his performance.
An Amateur Hangs Tough in Augusta
Sam Bennett was the talk of the town for a good chunk of the tournament. The amateur golfer is a senior at Texas A&M and quickly won over golf fans all around the world with his heart-warming story about his father and his excellent play. Bennett took home the title at the U.S. Amateur in 2022, helping him qualify for the Masters this year, but few expected him to play as well as he did. Racking up what seemed like birdie after birdie, Bennett played with Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm in the final group on Sunday before eventually dropping to a 16th place finish. Nevertheless, he was welcomed to the 18th green with a huge ovation from the crowd, and he’ll certainly look to build on his success with a long, fruitful professional career.
A Rapidly Developing Pace Problem
Unfortunately, the 2023 Masters wasn’t devoid of a little bit of controversy. Brooks Koepka, who was leading after play concluded Saturday, was asked about the pace of play in this year’s tournament, to which he responded, “The group in front of us was brutally slow.” In the midst of a sports climate that sees game makers changing rules to speed up play, the quote immediately made headlines. Koepka ended up falling short and finishing in second place, and though he admitted he didn’t play well enough to win, his frustration was evident. The golf world turned its attention to the apparent culprit, another top-five golfer in Patrick Cantlay, who responded by insisting that he was also waiting for quite a bit of time to play many of his own shots. Cantlay believes that a single round of golf takes just as long as it has over the past two decades but recognized that weather conditions and high stakes played a role in players’ abilities to plan shots.
LIV Players Finish All Over the Leaderboard
Former PGA Tour players who made the move over to LIV Golf were welcomed back to play in the 2023 Masters, and they landed all over the leaderboard. Leading the way for the better part of the tournament was Brooks Koepka, who, despite lackluster play in LIV events, looked as comfortable as he always has in another major tournament. Koepka finished tied for second at -8, coming in four strokes behind the eventual winner in John Rahm. Three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson also tied for second, capping off a strong weekend by shooting 65 in his final round. While another former green jacket winner in Patrick Reed finished tied for fourth, other LIV stars like Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann and Dustin Johnson made the cut but never made the jump to the top of the leaderboard, and Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson missed the cut altogether.