Jeremy Ellwood reflects on the extraordinary events of the 2019 Masters and ponders whether Tiger's unlikely victory was perhaps just a dream after all
Revisiting Tiger’s Masters Win Last Year – It Wasn’t A Dream?
It’s Masters Sunday, April 14, 2019 and what is this? An unmistakable figure in red and black is stalking around like he really believes he’s going to get the job done. I must have nodded off and this is all just a dream.
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But wait. The final round of the 2019 Masters was brought forward several hours due to an ominous weather forecast. It’s not stupid o’clock on a Sunday night, merely late afternoon.
Hold on, though – I’ve just battled my way around the clifftop course at Walmer & Kingsdown on the Kent coast on a cold and very windy day. Such exertions can be enough to spark a spontaneous Sunday afternoon nap in those of a certain age. A dream after all.
No longer a Major contender
The man looks for all the world like Tiger Woods, but surely it can’t be, for Tiger Woods doesn’t win Majors any more. It is though!
His last Major came back in 2008, and it’s now 14 years since he conjured up that miracle chip on Augusta’s 16th hole to take down Chris DiMarco and claim his fourth Green Jacket.
For the past decade, personal issues, injuries and operations have prematurely curtailed his career as a Major contender.
How cruel the mind can be to play such tricks on naively optimistic me, wishing and hoping that the great man could just take one step closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record and keep us all believing that he could still get there.
I am aware that he’s played his way into the final group on Sunday around a course he knows like the back of his hand with three solid scores including a Saturday 67.
But even an unexpectedly resurgent Woods has failed to get the job done when right in the thick of the final-round action at both The Open and the PGA in 2018, losing out to Francesco Molinari and Brooks Koepka respectively.
Same cast of characters
And yes, just to prove it’s my sleeping mind playing movie director, there are those two again, right in the thick of it, Koepka sharing the first and second round leads and Molinari carrying a two-shot advantage into Sunday. Clever, the subconscious mind, isn’t it?
It simply must be a dream, for even the greatest of all time, Jack Nicklaus, only left it 11 years between his last Masters triumph as a serious contender in 1975 and his fairytale swansong victory at 46 years of age in 1986 when well past his prime.
Surely the man in red and black will ultimately prove just a sideshow to the main event, a mere shadow of the superhero who really did once strike the fear of God into his rivals sporting that very same outfit.
My dream takes a downturn as the man bogeys five and six to fall three adrift of Molinari, and no doubt slip away into the shadows of ‘also ran’ country.
Getting a little far-fetched…
But not so fast. This dream has other ideas – an instant two-shot swing back in Tiger’s favour on the 7th where he knocks it stone-dead, and he’s right back in it heading into the back nine.
Then things takes an unexpected turn – four of the six players in the final two groups find the water on 12… but Tiger is not among them. It’s Messrs Koepka, Finau, Poulter and the usually unflappable Molinari who commit the cardinal sin on that fearsome little hole.
Tiger makes par and then birdies 13, as do all the leaders other than Koepka who makes eagle to make amends for the 12th. And this is where the dream gets a little too far-fetched.
Master iron player Molinari clips a tree and doesn’t make it halfway across the water on 15. Goodbye!
Woods all but holes his tee-shot on 16, feeding the ball back down just past the hole to three feet. Birdie to reach 14-under!
Dustin Johnson and Koepka both fail to make the birdies they need on 18 to stretch the clubhouse target to 13-under, Koepka not even sniffing the hole from eight feet.
And Woods, who, remember, hasn’t won a Major for 11 years, suddenly finds himself standing in the 18th fairway two shots clear. Unbelievable – bogey will be enough.
How the dream plays out
His tee-shot isn’t really long enough to get past the corner, though, and his second comes up 50 yards short right, but crucially with no bunkers in the way. Three from here and my dream, at least, has come true.
What an incredible dream! A couple of hours later, I wake up, switch on the news and wait to find out who really won the 2019 Masters. Lo and behold…
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