I’ve loved hosting the Masters, back in its usual spring slot in the calendar, and I hope you enjoyed all the action! It really does signal the start of the golfing season and, despite the freezing cold weather, it’s been fantastic to see the patrons back and the Azaleas in full bloom. I hope you manage to sneak out on the fairways at some point this week to create your own golfing magic!
It’s been great watching Justin Rose this week – on Friday we were all getting very excited in the Sky Sports studio about an English winner! For me, he’s too good a player and competitor to just have one Major – but, ultimately, in this year’s competition, he just didn’t have his best stuff. After the sensational opening 65, we didn’t see vintage Rose, and he had to battle and scramble hard to stay in with a chance. I hope Rose has more Majors in him, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be this week.
I’ve also enjoyed watching the progress of Will Zalatoris – what a performance by the young man! 24 years of age and on a layout where experience is so crucial – look out for Will in future Majors!
Hideki Matsuyama has long been on our radar and was carrying the hopes of his golf-crazed nation, Japan, on Sunday at Augusta. His stunning 65 on Saturday paved the way, but it’s always fascinating to see how a player handles a comfortable lead. Matsuyama was 4 clear through 54 holes, but under enormous pressure, it was his to lose. I would have loved to have seen some of the bigger names put him under more duress early on. Xander Schauffele was a disappointment – I thought he’d pile on the early pressure. New dad Jon Rahm put together a blistering final round, but sadly he was too far back at the start of the day.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the chasing pack if Hideki posted anything around level par, and so it proved. In the end, 73 was good enough – his victory wasn’t without drama at the end, but well deserved. It was a shame Xander didn’t find the heart of the green at 16, but pressure told!
Hideki – you’ve made Japan proud, and the Olympics has a new poster boy!
– Sarah Stirk, Wellesley Brand Ambassador