What Did We Learn From the 2021 US Masters?
Now that the dust has settled on another US Masters tournament and the famous green jacket has been taken home by a Japanese golfer for the first time, we can reflect upon another rollercoaster of a tournament. Hideki Matsuyama’s momentous victory and subsequently emotional interview will remain as the defining feature of this year’s competition, but there were plenty of other talking points, too.
The climatic conditions, for one thing, reminded just how influential the weather can be on the performance of players and the appearance of the final leader board. Meanwhile, several up-and-comers announced their arrival on the world stage, while other veterans of the game put in a slightly disappointing shift at Augusta. Here’s a closer look at those points in more detail.
Paving the way for future athletes
Eventual winner Matsuyama earned his place at this year’s Masters by claiming the Asia-Pacific Amateur. That makes him just the seventh golfer to upset the US Masters odds and win the green jacket via a triumph at a low-honors amateur contest. He is also the first man to win the competition from Japan.
Those achievements are surely to be welcomed by the PGA and by fans of the sport in general, since Matsuyama’s success can only enhance the popularity of golf in his native country. What’s more, his route to Augusta will give hope to plenty of budding amateurs in Asia, the Pacific region and even Latin America that they can replicate his career path themselves.
Promising players announce their arrival
You’d be forgiven for not being familiar with the name of Will Zalatoris prior to this year’s Masters, but the 24-year-old American is currently making quite a name for himself. Not only did he come incredibly close to becoming the first rookie to don the green jacket for 40 years, but he’s already racked up some incredible statistics in his short but exciting career to date.
Meanwhile, another relatively young player in the shape of Xander Schauffele confirmed his credentials as a serious contender for major trophies by pushing Matsuyama all the way on the final day – until a double and a triple bogey put paid to his challenge. That hiccup has prompted some spectators to remark that he’s prone to bottling it when close to success, but his talent is undeniably there for all to see.
Experienced heads fall short
Rory McIlroy has won pretty much every major trophy in the sport – except for the US Masters. That was a wrong he was hoping to right this April but unfortunately his swing fell woefully short and he put in a sub-par performance to finish well back in the field. More time on the practice range with his newly hired swing coach Pete Cowen is clearly needed for him to get back to his imperious best.
Elsewhere, Jordan Spieth proved many of his doubters wrong by tying in third place at Augusta. This, despite the fact that he himself said he’d played nowhere near his best, his putting was poor all weekend and he pocketed a triple bogey on the final day. When he gets those thrusters firing properly, there will surely be no stopping him.
The 2021 US Masters served up another classic tournament with a fitting finale – it now remains to be seen whether the chasing pack can demonstrate they’ve learned their lessons from this tournament in the months ahead.