The 2022 Masters at Augusta proved, once again, why it is the most revered and celebrated of championships on the PGA Tour. With the prestigious Green Jacket waiting for the eventual winner, a field containing 91 of the best golfers in the world took to Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia for four days of intense competition.
As the 86th edition of the prestigious competition, the 2022 Masters was following in the footsteps of some historical moments that have transcended the sport itself. The entrance policy is strictly invite-only, with players having to fulfil one of the 19 criteria in order to receive an invitation. As such, the tournament is only attended by the very best of the best in the sport, making the field saturated with the very best talent in the sport.
As a result, winning the competition outright is a historical achievement, with only 17 men claiming multiple titles in its’ 86-year history. At the top of that list, three of the most recognisable names in the history of the sport have the most wins at Augusta. Jack Nicklaus (6 wins), Tiger Woods (5 wins) and Arnold Palmer (4 wins) have donned the Green Jacket more than any other, however only one of them found themselves in the headlines throughout the latest edition.
The Return of Tiger Woods
The build up to the 2022 Masters competition contained a tangible excitement amongst the golfing world. The return of Patrons to the course for the first time since 2019, along with a special return of the champion from that very tournament, presented an atmosphere that few had experienced before.
After winning the 2019 Masters in emotional circumstances, Tiger Woods’ well-documented troubles had left him on wondering whether he would be able to walk again, let alone compete at the summit of the sport of golf. His crash in February of last year left him, in his own words, “lucky to be alive”. An intense rehabilitation program that saw him training every single day in the build up to the Masters led to him returning to the sports’ most prestigious of stages just 14 months later. Despite the evident struggles of simply being able to walk the course four times in four days, Tiger started out in impressive fashion, carding a 71-shot, 1-under-par return to ignite every golf-lovers’ wildest dreams of a Tiger victory. Having acknowledged that simply competing was as good as a win for him, Tiger made the cut after shooting a second round 74. With the field being pretty much split in half, Tigers’ return to the top of the sport was cemented with patrons clamouring for a glimpse of his final two rounds.
Despite the excitement, Woods’ troubles caught up with him, carding consecutive career-worst 78-shot rounds to eventually finish in 47th place at 13-over-par. With his knee clearly causing him significant trouble walking, fighting through 72 holes was an achievement in itself and one that the Augusta faithful were keen to applaud as Tiger limped to the finish of his tournament, both literally and metaphorically.
Rory’s storming comeback
The cheers at the 18th were not strictly reserved for the most famous man in golf however. The final round saw an inevitable shift in the expectations of players with every shot seeming to increase the levels of pressure throughout the course. For one player in particular, the cauldron of pressure elevated their game to a level unmatched by any other player through that final round.
Rory McIlroy carded a phenomenal -8 through the final 18 holes of the competition to surge into second place on the overall leaderboard and apply significant pressure to eventual winner Scottie Scheffler.
Rory’s final round produced some memorable moments, none more so than his final shot of the tournament, a hole out on the 18th that was equalled and shared by his playing partner Collin Morikawa, who also enjoyed an impressive final day, eventually carding -5 for the day to finish fifth overall. The embrace between the two players in support of their respective finishes provided a moment that will live long in the memory of those the patrons returning to Augusta for the first time since 2019.
The Rise of Scottie Scheffler
With an impressive rise to the World Number 1 spot, Scottie Scheffler came into The Masters in search of his first major. Scheffler displayed a remarkable sense of assurance on his final round to minimise any chance of Cameron Smith, playing alongside Scheffler on the final day, truly challenging for the title. By his own admission, he simply tried to “keep my head down and execute shots”; an understated means of earning his first major, cementing himself as the dominant force in men’s golf and securing the $2.7million prize money to boot.
Scheffler has amassed an astonishing 4 wins in just 6 starts, securing him nearly $9million in prize money in just two months of play; a remarkable run of form that has threatened to see him dominate the men’s game after his inaugural Green Jacket.
The Return of The Masters
After such an extended period of time away from the Patrons, Augusta opening its’ doors once more has provided talking points and memories aplenty. A nostalgic return for one of the most beloved players in the history of the sport playing alongside the new dominant player in the game gave the golf fan every possible satisfaction from a weekend that encapsulated everything that makes The Masters a truly great theatre within the world of competitive sports.
Alongside the calmed assurance of the World Number 1, the excitement and drama of a last-day push from McIlroy and the stunning drone-led shots from American broadcaster CBS inside the famous clubhouse, the golf fan was treated to the very best aspects of such historic tournament.
The drama spilled into the final shots on the final day whilst the welcome return of fans lining the course helped to make the 2022 Masters the perfect platform on which to showcase the best of golf majors to the sporting world.