2021 Masters: A This is St Andrews Original
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Hideki Matsuyama holds a four stroke lead at the beginning of the final round, and is the first Japanese player to do so in the history of The Masters. For over half a century Japanese golfers have threatened to win on the grandest stage of all in the men's game, but to date, none have fulfilled the vast potential the land of the rising sun offers.
Japan is among the great golfing nations of the world, but in a unique way not seen anywhere else on earth.
There are said to be over 9 million people in Japan who play golf, an astonishing number by any measurement. There are some 2,500 golf courses and a remarkable 35,000 driving ranges. The nation has one of the strongest and well supported professional tours in the world, with each event well supported by the local population.
Japan has some 500+ golfers with an Official World Golf Ranking, making it one of the strongest nations in the world of professional golf. 
Matsuyama emerged on to the world scene when he won the Asian Amateur Championship in 2010 and 2011, finishing as low amateur at the 2011 Masters, at that time it was Ryo Ishikawa who was the star of Japanese golf, but he couldn't replicate his Japan Golf Tour form on the world stage, never contending for a major title.
All of Japan's golfers in the modern era have been attempting to succeed where the legends of the game in Japan failed, with Jumbo Ozaki, Isao Aoki and Tommy Nakajima leading the way on the world stage for Japan.
Jumbo Ozaki won a remarkable 94 titles on the Japan Golf Tour, but never won a tournament in Europe or the United States. The near 6ft tall, 198lb man from Tokushima did reach World Number 5 in September 1996, and played in 49 Major Championships, but he only recorded 3 top ten finishes including a tie for 8th at the 1973 Masters.
Isao Aoki perhaps came the closest to breaking Japan's major duck at the 1980 US Open, finishing second to Jack Nicklaus. He was the first Japanese winner on the PGA Tour when he was successful at the 1983 Hawaiian Open, and later that year defeated Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and others at Sunningdale to win the European Open. Aoki won 51 times on the Japan Golf Tour and reached World Number 8 in 1987.
Then there was Tommy Nakajima, a man with an infamous tie to St Andrews and the Road Hole. In 1978, Nakajima was in contention at The Open Championship on the third day until he putted into – and then took four attempts to escape from – the Road Hole bunker at the 17th for a quintuple bogey, which led the British tabloids to christen that bunker, for a while, "the Sands of Nakajima". 
Nakajima's best finish in a major was third at the 1988 PGA Championship and he reached World Number 4 in 1986. Nakajima won 48 times on the Japan Golf Tour, but like Ozaki, failed to succeed on foreign soil.
So now Hideki Matsuyama stands on the verge of succeeding where the icons of Japanese golf failed. Matsuyama has won 2 World Golf Championships, at Firestone Country Club and Sheshan International Golf Club, and 3 other PGA Tour titles. He has reached World Number 2, very nearly becoming World Number One in 2018. However, it is 4 years since his last win, and he has never led a Major into the final round.
The eyes of a nation will be on him, on a Monday morning in Tokyo. Will he deliver an earth shattering, historic victory for Japan, in the year it hosts the Olympic Games? Only time will tell.

Masters leaderboard by Torrey Wileywo

2021 Masters: A This is St Andrews Original
This is St Andrews coverage of The Masters is sponsored by 2under
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Hideki Matsuyama holds a four stroke lead at the beginning of the final round, but no lead is safe in a Major Championship, especially on this course with these players.
Here is a look back to some of the greatest Masters comebacks over the years.
2011 Charl Schwartzel, 4 shots
The South African began the final round in a 4-way tie for second place 4 shots behind Rory McIlroy. Schwartzel began his final round with a chip-in birdie on the first and a hole-out Eagle at the 3rd, and ended his round with birdies at 15, 16, 17 and 18. The leader McIlroy shot 80 to fall to a tie for 15th place.
1996 Nick Faldo, 6 shots
Nick Faldo started the final round some 6 shots behind Greg Norman, who had absolutely dominated the first three days, including a course-record equalling 63 on the first day. Faldo shot 67 to Norman's 78 and remarkably Faldo turned a 6 shot deficit into a 5 shot victory.
1990 Nick Faldo, 3 shots
Faldo claimed his second consecutive Masters win with a final round of 69 to get into a playoff with Raymond Floyd, Floyd was the 54-hole leader and shot level par 72 in the final round. Faldo won on the second playoff hole.
1989 Nick Faldo, 5 shots
Faldo made his Masters breakthrough with his dramatic comeback win in 1989. He began the final round 5 shots behind the leader, Ben Crenshaw. Crenshaw shot 71, but Faldo produced a stunning final round of 65 to tie Scott Hoch and defeat him on the second playoff hole.
1986 Jack Nicklaus, 8 shots
Jack Nicklaus won his iconic sixth green jacket with a remarkable comeback in 1986. He began 8 shots behind Greg Norman, the Australian shot 70 (2-under-par), but Nicklaus produced a stunning final round of 65 to win by 1 shot.
1979 Fuzzy Zoeller, 6 shots
Ed Sneed began the day with a 5 shot lead and shot 76 to slip into a playoff with Zoeller and Tom Watson. Zoeller won the playoff.
1978 Gary Player, 7 shots
Gary Player made the largest comeback in Masters history at the time with a final round of 64 to overcome a 7-shot deficit to Hubert Green. The 54-hole leader shot 72.
1954 Sam Snead, 3 shots
Snead and Hogan were legendary rivals of the 40's and 50's and either of them without the other would have won numerous more titles. In 1954 Hogan led by 3 with 18 holes to play, he shot a final round of 75 to tie Snead and lost the playoff.

Magnolia Lane by Torrey Wiley

2021 Masters: A This is St Andrews Original
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Sunday, the final day of a golf tournament, sure some tournaments finish on a Saturday, or even a Monday or Tuesday if the weather is bad. Sunday is the day of roast dinners, Yorkshire puddings and apple pie with custard. Sunday is the day when trophies are lifted and a champion is crowned.

Sunday is the day when Tiger wears red and Seve wore navy blue and white.

Masters Sunday is the day history is made.

Masters Sunday is the day when the roars are louder, the shots are greater and everything is just that little bit more important.

Masters Sunday is the day when memories are made, dreams come true and golfers are created.

My first memories of Masters Sunday are of Nick Faldo holing the birdie putt on 18 in 1996 when he came from 6 back of Greg Norman to win by 5, completing an 11-shot turnaround the likes of which not seen in many years. I remember Mark O'Meara holing a similar putt to win in 1998, Tiger Woods completing the Tiger Slam in 2001, Phil Mickelson winning his first major in 2004 and Tiger holing the impossible chip at 16 in 2005.

The old saying is that The Masters doesn't start until the second nine on Sunday, this is partly because that is all that used to be shown of the tournament on television and because it is arguably the greatest second nine in world golf. Prodigious, brutal par fours like the 10th and 11th, risk-reward par fives like 13 and 15, stunningly beautiful and challenging par three's like 12 and 16 and one of the iconic finishing holes in world golf like 18.

Nicklaus shooting 30 on the second nine to win in 1986 happened when I was 2 1/2 years old, but it has been replayed so many times it feels like I actually watched it happen live. 

Masters Sunday is a day which inspires children, usually watching with their family, to take up the game. Children like Nick Faldo who was in awe of Jack Nicklaus.

Masters Sunday is a day which can make a career, like Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Mike Weir. Masters Sunday is a day which can bring heartache to a player, time and time again, like Greg Norman. Masters Sunday is a day which can launch a dynasty, like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Simply put, Masters Sunday is and will forever remain, the single greatest day in the golfing calendar. The roars of an Open Championship, the difficulty of a US Open, the beauty of Augusta National and the colours of spring. Masters Sunday is a day to cherish.

What will this Masters Sunday bring?
Hideki Matsuyama begins the final round 4 shots clear of Justin Rose, Will Zalatoris, Marc Leishman and Xander Schauffele. The Japanese star will play alongside Schauffele, both looking for their first Major title. But for Hideki it will be much more than that. It is over a century since golf was introduced to Japan, over the years they have had superstars like Jumbo Ozaki, Isao Aoki, Tommy Nakajima and Ryo Ishikawa. They have had their own professional tour for nearly 50 years. Yet, somehow no Japanese golfer has ever won a Major, indeed victory today would be only the second Asian win in a men's Major Championship. This could be a transformative day for the game of golf.
Justin Rose shot a second consecutive round of level par after his opening 65, but he will need to play substantially better if he wants to add a Green Jacket to a Silver US Open Trophy and an Olympic Gold Medal. It has been 8 years since Adam Scott finally broke the Australian hoodoo at Augusta, Marc Leishman has contended for the title before, and also lost out in the playoff in St Andrews for the 2015 Open Championship. Leishman has won 6 times across the PGA Tour and European Tour, and has finished in the top 10 twice at Augusta.
Will Zalatoris has risen from obscurity over the last year to be one of the new stars of American golf, his consistent run of top tens, 15 in his last 30 starts worldwide, have pushed him into the world's top 50 and he finished in a tie for sixth place at Winged Foot in the US Open last September.
But it is perhaps Xander Schauffele that poses the biggest threat to Hideki Matsuyama on this Masters Sunday. His consistency has been spectacular, and he was won some of the biggest events outside the Majors in recent years including the Tour Championship and the HSBC Champions.
Other storylines we could see develop today include the return to glory of Jordan Spieth, nearly 4 years on from his last Major title, Spieth could join the legends of the game by winning a second green jacket, he begins 6 shots back.
Scotland's Robert Macintyre is likely too far back to make an impact at 2-under, but to be in the top 10 coming into the final day of his first Masters Tournament is an extraordinary performance, and if Matsuyama does falter perhaps a winning score of 7 or 8 under par is in reach for the man from Oban.
Whatever happens, we are set for drama, it is Masters Sunday after all.

So sit back, watch it, take it in and hold on to it. Masters Sunday will give you memories for a lifetime.
2021 Masters: A This is St Andrews Original
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Bobby Jones achieved all he could achieve in life and golf, he was synonymous in excellence and class in all that he did, he was known all over the world, but in the whole world only two places would remain synonymous with him - St Andrews and Augusta.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 17, 1902 Robert Tyre Jones Junior was born into a family of relative wealth, his father was a Lawyer. Despite this it didn't mean he had it easy, suffering from health issues throughout his life. He was diagnosed with Syringomyelia at the age of 46.
Jones was clearly a very talented golfer from a young age, indeed he proved this by winning the Georgia state amateur golf championship at the age of 14, as well as qualifying for the quarter-finals of the US Amateur in the same year. He qualified for the US Open at the age of 18 in 1920, and in 1921 he would make his first visit to the home of golf, St Andrews for the 1921 Open Championship.
The 1921 Open was the 12th to be played over the Old Course and is the last Major Championship to be won by a golfer born in St Andrews. Jock Hutchison was a naturalized American citizen, but was born in St Andrews in 1884 before emigrating to the United States and becoming a US citizen in 1920. Hutchison would also later win the inaugural PGA Seniors Championship at, ironically, Augusta National Golf Club.
The 1921 Open was however notable for "an act which would have been quickly forgotten had it been done by an ordinary player", in the words of legendary golf writer Henry Longhurst. Jones, having played the front nine in 46 strokes, reached the par three 11th and found Hill Bunker, which guards the left side of the green. After taking multiple swipes at the ball without extracting himself from the bunker, the prodigy picked up the ball, ripped up his scorecard and was disqualified from the competition.
Jones was renowned for his flashes of bad temper on the golf course, illustrating a burning passion within him and he could not accept playing so badly. Myth has it that Jones said he would never return to St Andrews, but indeed he did, and when he did so he would leave an indelible mark on the Old Course and the town.
In 1926 the Old Course staged the Walker Cup, the Americans defeated the British by a narrow 6-5 margin, but this was the week in which Jones came to terms with the subtleties of links golf. He won a singles game over 36 holes by a breathtaking score of 12&11 and was part of a win in foursomes too. When Jones next returned to St Andrews he would demonstrate a mastery of the links the like of which had never been seen before.
Truly great sporting performances can probably be counted using very few hands over the years, and one of these came at the 1927 Open Championship at St Andrews by Bobby Jones. The Old Course played as a Par 73 in 1927 and Jones shot rounds of 68, 72, 73 and 72 to win by six strokes and record the lowest score in Major Championship history at the time. 
This would have been impressive if it was done by a full-time professional, but it should be remembered Jones was an amateur, he left the likes of Henry Cotton and Sandy Herd trailing by 13 and 15 shots respectively, he was the low amateur by 15 shots and only two other players broke the par of 292. His lead throughout the championship after each round was never less than 3 shots and Walter Hagen would win the next two Open Championships with scores of 292. Gene Sarazen would break Jones' record at the 1932 Open at Royal St George's when he shot 283, but in terms of score relative to par it took until 1936 for the record to be broken, by Alf Padgham at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
It wasn't until 1955 that his total of 285 was beaten, when Peter Thomson shot 281 on the then par 72 Old Course. In relation to par it was still only tied with Jones, but in 1957 Bobby Locke shot 9-under to finally break the 30-year-old Open Championship record score in relation to par.
Aged 25, Jones returned home to a heroes welcome, and the golf media dubbed him "Golf's Wonder-man". Three years later he would return to St Andrews in a bid to win the one Major title which had eluded him, The Amateur Championship. He set out in 1930 to do the seemingly impossible, win all four Major Championships - The US Amateur, The Amateur Championship, The US Open and The Open.
The Amateur Championship at St Andrews was the first step along the road to immortality. Of course Jones would win, defeating American Eugene V Homas by the score of 8&7 in the final over 36 holes of the Old Course. He would go on to win The Open at Royal Liverpool, The US Open at Interlachen and The US Amateur at Merion.
They called it the "Impregnable Quadrilateral".
The closest thing to it since?
The Tiger Slam.
The US Open at Pebble Beach, The Open at St Andrews, The PGA Championship at Valhalla and the Masters at Bobby Jones's Augusta National.
Following completing the 1930 Grand Slam Jones honoured the commitment he made to his family to retire from competitive golf, at the tender age of 28. Imagine just how many Major titles Jones could have won had he not been suffering from the illness which would be diagnosed as having Syringomyelia some 18 years later. Imagine how much money he could have made had he turned professional, he could have changed the game and elevated it long before the emergence of Hogan, Palmer, Player, Nicklaus and Woods.
His major record as it stood in 1930 was truly remarkable:
As an amateur he won 7 Professional Majors - 4 US Open, 3 The Open
He won 6 Major amateur titles - 5 US Amateur, 1 The Amateur
Only Nicklaus, Woods, Hagen, Player, Hogan and Watson have won more professional major championships than Bobby Jones, think about that. Only 6 players, only 6 professionals, in the history of the sport have won more professional majors than an amateur, Bobby Jones.
Had he turned professional there is little doubt Jones would have won even more professional majors. He defeated Walter Hagen with regularity in that era, just his US Open record would suggest he would have won many PGA Championships, especially as it was a match play event in that time.
Jones NEVER finished outside the top 11 at the US Open, with 4 wins and 4 second places.
In the Match play Majors he competed in he reached the final in 8 of 15 entries. There's no doubt Jones would have won multiple PGA Championships, and if he hadn't retired at the age of 28 then the Masters, his own creation, would have been snaffled too. There is absolutely no question Bobby Jones deserves his place in history as one of the true greats.
Following his retirement from tournament golf Jones needed something else to focus on, and that something else came in the form of Augusta National Golf Club.
Bobby met Dr Alister Mackenzie at the 1927 Open in St Andrews and when the time came to find a designer for his course there was only one man Bobby wanted.
The architect of Cypress Point and Pasatiempo Golf Club on the West Coast, along with Royal Melbourne in Australia, Mackenzie shared many thoughts in common with Jones as to how a golf course should look and play.
He wanted to create a strategic course with room off the tee to enable all levels of golfer to enjoy their round, but the course would make the golfer think, just like the Old Course.
Bobby Jones's and Alister Mackenzie's vision was to create a course which would "reward the good shot by making the second shot simpler in proportion to the excellence of the first".
"A course which is constructed with these principles in view must be interesting, because it will offer problems which a man may attempt, according to his ability".
"It will never become hopeless for the duffer, nor fail to concern and interest the expert, and it will be found, like Old St Andrews, to become more interesting and delightful the more it is studied and played".
This is so true of both Augusta National and the Old Course, St Andrews, for different reasons. At Augusta the golfer is wowed by its beauty, but in general, with a few exceptions, it takes a player a few attempts to succeed on the course. On the Old Course many players have taken several attempts to appreciate the qualities of the course. Lee Westwood once said the Old Course wouldn't be in his top 200 in the world.
Westwood then won the 2003 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and came second at the 2010 Open Championship.
11am BOBBY JONES, AUGUSTA AND ST ANDREWS  A This is St Andrews Original 
1pm MOVING DAY AT THE MASTERS  A This is St Andrews Original 

11am MASTERS SUNDAY A This is St Andrews Original 
1pm SCOTS AT THE MASTERS  A This is St Andrews Original 

This is St Andrews coverage of The Masters is sponsored by 2under
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This is St Andrews coverage of The Masters is sponsored by 2Under
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Justin Rose, on the day of Seve's 64th birthday, matched the great Spaniard in holding the outright lead at Augusta after 36 holes on two separate occasions.
Thursday and Friday have been a tale of two nines for Justin Rose as he became just the second European to hold the halfway lead twice at the Masters. On Thursday he headed to the 8th tee at 2-over-par, and then found the type of form everyone dreams of making eagle at the 8th and playing the last 11 holes in 9-under to post an opening round of 65.
On Friday he played the front nine in 3-over-par and then came back in 3-under. He has played the second nine in 9-under-par, in contrast to an indifferent 2-over-par on the first nine, which could be crucial over the weekend.
Rose is looking to become the third Englishman to win at Augusta after Sir Nick Faldo and Danny Willett, and join the likes of Seve, Langer, Olazabal, Woosnam and Garcia in the hall of fame of European winners of The Masters.
European 36-hole leaders of the Masters
2021 Justin Rose
2019 Francesco Molinari (Tied)
2017 Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters (Tied)
2011 Rory McIlroy
2010 Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood (Tied)
2004 Justin Rose
1999 Jose Maria Olazabal
1992 Ian Woosnam (Tied)
1989 Nick Faldo (Tied)
1988 Sandy Lyle
1986 Seve Ballesteros
1980 Seve Ballesteros
Rose will play alongside Masters debutant Will Zalatoris in the final group on Saturday, after the emerging star posted 6-under for the first two rounds.
But the chasing pack have several star names among them, including the resurgent Jordan Spieth, winner of last week's Texas Open, who is 5-under-par for the first 36 holes. Spieth will play alongside Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, with Australian Marc Leishman joining Brian Harman, all within 3 of Rose's lead.
Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Cameron Champ and Hideki Matsuyama are all 4-under-par.
Scotland's Robert Macintyre clinched a place in the final two rounds on his Masters debut after rounds of 74 and 70. Martin Laird will join him after rounds of 72 and 71 left him at 1-over-par.
Some big names will, however, not be playing this weekend. The cut fell at 3-over-par and defending champion Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka were the biggest of the names who failed to make the cut. Johnson missed out by 1 shot after two indifferent rounds of 74, but Rory McIlroy missed by a distance. 
McIlroy came into the tournament off the back of some poor form and the addition of Pete Cowen to his coaching team, and was never really a factor during both the opening two rounds. His frustrating wait for a Major title goes on. When he arrives at Kiawah Island next month it will be 7 years since his last Major victory, which was the PGA Championship at Valhalla. Lee Westwood also missed the cut, the 47-year-old came into the tournament with high hopes of a decent performance after runner-up finishes at Bay Hill and Sawgrass, but never really looked like making the weekend.
10 shots will cover the entire field, some 55 players made the cut.
This is St Andrews will continue to cover the story of the 2021 Masters on Saturday.
2021 Masters: A This Is St Andrews Original
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“Unfortunately, on this occasion you have been unsuccessful in your application”.

It was something I had heard regularly between January 2009 and March 2011.
I was one of the near 27,000 people who lost their jobs when Woolworths failed to find a buyer after going into Administration.

Over 2 years of looking for a job, applying for work here, there and everywhere.
My University education prepared me for a job in the industries surrounding the sport of golf, and since leaving Myerscough College in 2006 I had interviews at Celtic Manor (the 2010 Ryder Cup host venue), the Grove (2006 World Golf Championship host venue), Bowood, near my home of Devizes in Wiltshire (former Challenge Tour venue), and at the Ladies Golf Union and Fairmont St Andrews at the home of golf.

I had also applied for roles at Wentworth, Woburn, St Mellion and several others, but with no success.

My previous experience within the industry was limited to Caddying for two seasons at the prestigious Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland, and a season as a golf retail assistant at Gleneagles.

By 2011 I had been unemployed for 2 years, and with seemingly no hope of a job in the area where my family lived, I decided to attempt to get a job at the home of golf, St Andrews. So, I attended a recruitment day for St Andrews Links in early February 2011. I did so with the intention of getting a job in one of the golf shops or in administration, but I ended up having a chat with the then Caddie Master, Robert Thorpe. I submitted my application, had a short telephone interview the following week, and based upon my experience from Royal County Down, was given the job as a caddie at St Andrews Links.

Elation! Relief.

It was over.

2 years of being unemployed.

And please, don’t think I just applied for golf jobs in those two years. I applied for over 100 jobs across all sectors of the economy, getting a few interviews but each time being unsuccessful. In the wake of the global financial crisis, and the UK Government Austerity policies, there were many people in the same boat, and dwindling numbers of life rafts.
I had a measly £72 per week to live on from Job Seekers Allowance, as it was called at the time. Plus, the indignity of having to ‘sign on’ every week at the Job Centre and get this rather puzzled and confused look when I mentioned what I was looking for and the skills I had. The Job Centre back then, as it probably still is, was fit for one thing, getting people into a dead-end, short-term, unsuitable job just to improve numbers. And unfortunately, when you have thousands of other people in that position the chances of success are limited.

Finally, I had hope. Finally, I could begin the have a meaningful life again. But more than that, I was becoming a caddie at the home of golf, and moving to St Andrews, moving to Scotland. As I previously mentioned, I had spent 3 months at Gleneagles in 2007, and as a family we visited St Andrews when Mum and Dad came up to see me during the summer. 11 years earlier we also visited St Andrews for the very first time when we were touring Scotland in a Renault 5 Campus and visiting my dad’s brother and his family, who at the time lived in Dundee.

Then in 2004 and 2006 I volunteered at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with fellow students at Myerscough College, which has the grand and appropriate title of the International Institute for Golf Education. So, I had visited St Andrews for various reasons on four separate occasions, and had an affinity with the town, area and obviously, golf. It was the perfect place to escape the shackles of unemployment and meet new people.
The weekend of April 9 and 10, 2011 will be one I will never forget, the weekend I moved to St Andrews and it was the weekend of Golf's First Major, The 75th Masters. 

That weekend the weather was absolutely spectacular, nice and warm with brilliant sunshine and the journey up from my home town in Wiltshire, England to the East Coast of Fife was fantastic as I was starting a new chapter in my life and career. I was especially looking forward to moving in, unpacking and going to meet one of my best friends, his wife, father and uncle in town to watch the third round of The Masters and enjoy a few drinks in the best golfing scene you will find in any St Andrews bar.

The Dunvegan Hotel is just a 112-yard walk from the 18th green of the Old Course and is by far the best bar for watching golf in within St Andrews, it has an atmosphere unlike any other with many golfers having played during the day choosing to spend their evenings sat drinking, eating and watching the golf on the HD televisions. 

The Hotel was acquired by Jack and Sheena Willoughby in 1994, both are avid golfers and as such the golfer is made more than welcome with staff getting to know the customer and more than willing and able to talk golf with you. Numerous celebrities and world golfing stars have frequented the bar over the years and to be in there both nights of Masters weekend truly was something very special, especially for the 2011 Masters weekend.

Rory McIlroy and I share a great friend, who is now a coach on the PGA Tour, and one of the reasons moving to St Andrews was initially easier than it might have been. 
I first met Stephen Sweeney in 2004 when myself and two other students went to Newcastle, County Down to caddie for the summer at Royal County Down Golf Club. We rented a room from him for the period of time we were caddying and in 2006 I returned alone to spend June-October in the town and caddying. We had several great adventures and many memorable moments over the course of that summer and have remained close ever since.

Rory began the weekend at 10-under-par, two strokes clear of Jason Day at the top of the leaderboard and three clear of Tiger Woods, the 21-year-old was on the verge of fulfilling his immense early potential by claiming one of the biggest titles in sport. 

Saturday is known as moving day and plenty of players attempted to challenge McIlroy's position at the top with Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott posting 67's to move up the leaderboard, but a steady 70 from the Northern Irishman including a critical and inspired downhill putt at the 17th gave him a four-stroke lead at the close of the third round.

On the face of it he held a commanding advantage, but even though he was four ahead of the rest only four strokes covered the next sixteen players on the leaderboard, and four players were tied for second. Any slip from McIlroy and there were many quality golfers ready to pounce. Were we set for the crowning of golf's new king? Would a star come roaring through to upset the Ulsterman? Either way we were set for another exciting conclusion to Golf's First Major, but nobody at that stage knew just how exciting.

Masters Sunday began for myself with going to the local Morrison’s store to buy some food and essentials on my first morning as a St Andrews resident, again there was glorious sunshine and warm temperatures on the Fife coast. Spring had well and truly arrived. 

Stephen, his father and uncle were playing golf at the nearby stunning links of Kingsbarns, so I spent the afternoon walking around town familiarizing myself with St Andrews, I had been there many times before I moved there but it is always special walking around the historic streets of the Home of Golf. 

Once the guys had finished playing golf, I went to meet them at the Dunvegan for what everyone hoped would be an exciting and happy time watching Rory McIlroy become Masters champion. The sense of anticipation was immense. 

The drama and excitement of Masters Sunday began at the first hole on an evening that will live long in the memory for anyone who was in the Dunvegan on that April night.
 Immediately you knew something very special was set to occur when Charl Schwartzel, another outrageous young talent, pushed his approach to the first green and then played a sublimely rolling chip into the hole for a quite amazing birdie to cut the deficit on McIlroy to three shots. 

Rory opened in exactly the fashion he would have had nightmares about overnight reaching the green safely enough but taking three nervous putts to make an unsettling bogey and within seconds his lead was gone, Charl Schwartzel had joined him at the top. 
In great rounds there is almost always a moment of truly outrageous brilliance and for Schwartzel this came at the third hole, he spun his approach to the 350-yard par four third hole for an eagle to start 3-under for the first 3.

But unfortunately for Rory it wasn't just Charl Schwartzel coming after him, the Ulsterman showed weakness and the best players in the world circled like a shark around a helpless swimmer in the sea, and soon they would devour him. 

Four-time Champion Tiger Woods made birdies at the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th to offset a bogey at the 4th to pull to within three of Rory and Charl at the top, by now my friend was clearly tense as he watched one of his closest friends struggle in the early stages of the final round. 

The 21-year-old made a par at the par five second hole before missing a golden opportunity to make birdie at the third, his six-foot putt slid by in a sign of real nerves and tension created by his and Schwartzel's start, now it really was game on. He parred the fourth and then an almighty cheer from the 8th where Tiger Woods played a superb second shot to within ten feet of the hole and rolled in the putt for eagle, this brought him to ten-under and tied with Schwartzel who had made a bogey at the fifth, one stroke behind Rory at the top.
Then came the mistake which really set the tournament alight from McIlroy at the fifth, he drove into the left fairway bunker and attempting a daring recovery shot the ball crashed into the lip, the ball managed to get out of the trap but would then find the bunker through the green and wound-up taking bogey to fall into a tie with Woods and Schwartzel. Tiger had made up seven shots on Rory and suddenly 5 and 6 players had the chance to claim the green jacket. 

But finally, something positive came for Rory at the seventh, rolling in a fifteen-foot birdie putt to take the lead on his own again and when Woods made a bogey at the 12th and McIlroy had daylight once again. It didn't make things any easier for the Irishman who made poor pars at both the eighth and ninth, still Rory held the lead with 9 holes to play on Masters Sunday. 

And if you had offered that to him at the start of the week, he would have bitten your hand off. That is of course if you hadn't have seen the first three days when he played peerless golf and led the field a merry dance, the front nine was a struggle and the tension was building, and about to explode with one swipe of his driver.

A quick, out of rhythm swing pulled the ball miles to the left and it hit the trees and went further left, so far left it was in the front garden of the cabins, most people didn't even know that they were in bounds. Rory recovered to put himself back in play but followed this with a pulled wood down to the side of the green where he would proceed to hit the trees again and wound up taking seven on a par four to fall to 8-under and seventh place. 

A four-putt double-bogey at the 12th and a pulled drive into the hazard on 13 wrecked any hopes McIlroy had of holding on to a chance of victory, it was sheer hell for Rory stood drooped over his club on the 13th tee and it was just as bad for all of us in the Dunvegan, especially Stephen. It was at this point that he decided he couldn't watch anymore, and he left the Dunvegan with his wife, uncle and father bitterly disappointed at what had transpired. I stayed on to watch one of the truly great finishes in Masters history.

As McIlroy exited stage left Tiger Woods posted the target in the clubhouse of 10-under-par, setting the mark which the remaining contenders had to match or pass on a wild last six holes. Angel Cabrera, Luke Donald, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy and Charl Schwartzel all had the opportunity to seize the chance of glory at Augusta, and at one stage there was a five-way tie for the lead. 

But it all came down to three Australians and a South African. No Australian had ever claimed the green jacket so for there to be three in with a chance at the same time was quite extraordinary, Geoff Ogilvy made 5 birdies in a row to get himself involved in the huge tie for the lead, but he couldn't get beyond 10-under-par and had to settle for the same score in the clubhouse as Tiger Woods. 

Adam Scott birdied the 14th to break the tie but was joined by Schwartzel, who made a good birdie from the back of the 15th green to reach 11-under with three holes to play. Scott then evoked memories of Nicklaus '86 further with a superb tee shot at the par three 16th to set up another birdie to reach 12-under. The South African however would just not be denied.

Schwartzel played a decent tee shot on the 16th and rolled in the putt from 15 feet to match Scott and would then repeat the trick at the 17th and 18th to take a quite remarkable victory with a round of 66 and a historical finish. Nobody had ever made four birdies to finish to win The Masters Tournament, Schwartzel birdied 15, 16, 17 and 18 to go along with his remarkable start he had a truly unbelievable finish to end one of the truly great Masters of my or anyone else's lifetime.

It was as heart pumping as it was heart-breaking, it was thrill-a-second stuff from the first hole to the last and it was the exact example you would want to give of The Masters to an alien who had landed on planet earth that April Sunday afternoon.

It is absolutely remarkable to think this was 10 years ago, and to think what has happened for both Rory McIlroy and I in those 10 years. 

In 2011 I had no clue I would end up as a photographer, working as a journalist and photographer at several significant golf events over the next decade, and as it would transpire, interviewing McIlroy for the online golf magazine I come to own in the following years.

There’s so much I could write about the last 10 years, the ups and the downs for Rory on the course, and me off it. 

But I don’t think I would change anything, because you see, I believe in fate. The things which have happened to me both personally and professionally over the last 10 years have meant to be and have led me to where I am today. I also believe in fate for McIlroy too, he needed to taste painful defeat in order to become the great golfer he is today with the best record of any golfer over those 10 years.

Fast forward to 2020 and the Covid19 pandemic strikes the world, and I can tell you after having spent much of the last 12 months stuck in my flat, Cabin Fever is a very real thing, so whilst I joke about Rory and the Cabins at Augusta 10 years ago, for many of us spring 2021 cannot become summer quickly enough.

I cannot tell you what will happen at Augusta this week, but if we get anything like the drama of a decade ago it will be one to remember, perhaps with a historic ending.

Words by Matt Hooper

This is St Andrews Coverage of the 2021 Masters is sponsored by 2Under
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2021 Masters: A This Is St Andrews Original
This is St Andrews coverage of The Masters is sponsored by 2Under
Visit www.2undergolf.co.uk for quality golf gloves and rangefinders


If Severiano Ballesteros was an artist then Augusta National Golf Club was the perfect canvas for him to paint the most beautiful pictures. With wins in 1980 and 1983, heartbreaking defeats in 1986 and 1987 and close calls in 1985, 1989 and 1990 Augusta proved to be the setting in which the flair and creativity of the dashing Spaniard could come to the fore more often than on any other course in the United States. 

Not only was Seve an artist he was in fact a leader, the pied piper of European Golf, ushering in an era of European success not enjoyed in any Major since before the second World War – 11 wins in 20 Masters Tournaments between 1980 and 1999 by Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Jose Maria Olazabal and of course sensational Seve.

Each generation in golf has a player which changes the way the game is played and perceived, a player which increases the popularity of the game in different parts of the world and society and a player which challenges the norm and breaks records. Seve did all of this and more. 50 European Tour wins, 5 Major Championships, 2 Masters Tournaments and an influential role in reviving the Ryder Cup and taking the European Tour to the next level, Ballesteros was the most important golfer in modern European golf and was considered to be the Arnold Palmer of Europe. 

Seve was an intoxicating mix of charm, charisma and good looks allied to athletic ability, the girls wanted to be with him and the guys wanted to be him and he was unique in golf and usually those with a unique quality shine at Augusta National – Seve was no different.

Following his sensational breakthrough performance in the 1976 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale where he held the 54-hole lead before finishing in a tie for second place with Jack Nicklaus behind Johnny Miller at the age of 19 Ballesteros went on to win 9 tournaments on the European Tour and 1 on the PGA Tour before claiming a first Major title. In the 1979 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Anne's Seve came from 2 shots behind Hale Irwin in the final round to win his first major, finishing as the only player under par and winning by three strokes from Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus. 

The 22-year-old was greeted in emotional scenes by his brother and father behind the 18th green and a new star in the game of golf had been born, the world was at the feet of this incredibly talented Spaniard. Ballesteros would not win again in 1979 and his next win anywhere was at Augusta National.

Seve had made three previous appearances at Augusta, improving each time finishing 38th, 18th and 12th prior to his fourth Masters invitation. The youngest Masters champion ever was Jack Nicklaus when he won in 1963 at the age of 23, that was until Seve slipped into the green jacket in 1980, the Open champion celebrated his 23rd birthday on the day prior to the start of the 1980 Masters Tournament and produced a dominant performance to compare with Ben Hogan in 1953 and Jack Nicklaus in 1965. 

The 1980 Masters Tournament was in many ways the equivalent of Rory McIlroy in 2011, the only difference being that Seve did just manage to hold on and get over the line to claim his second Major title at the age of 23 – coincidentally the same age at which Rory McIlroy is coming into the 2013 Masters, looking for his third Major and first Masters. Ballesteros began his fourth Masters appearance with a stunning six-under-par round of 66 which was enough to give the prodigy a share of the lead with David Graham and Jeff Mitchell, he would not look back and shot a 69 on Friday to open up a four stroke lead with a two-round total of 135, nine-under-par and keep himself on course for a maiden Masters victory. 

On Saturday Seve went one better and posted a four-under-par 68 to take his three-round total to 203, 13-under and an incredible 7 strokes clear and all of The Masters records were under threat. The lowest four-round total of 17-under by Nicklaus and Floyd was within reach and the biggest winning margin of 9 by Jack Nicklaus was also seemingly about to be eclipsed by the flamboyant European super-hero, but winning at Augusta National has never been easy, in any era.

Very much like '65 when Nicklaus separated himself from the field on Saturday the chasing pack had to be aggressive on Sunday in order to close the gap on Ballesteros, and Hubert Green, Jack Newton and Gibby Gilbert all produced great final rounds to move from 10, 9 and 8 shots behind Seve respectively into a position whereby the Spaniard had a nervous final few holes as he looked to close out the win. Despite a decidedly shaky Amen Corner which saw his lead shrink from 7 to 3 Ballesteros clinched victory with the help of a 2-putt birdie on the dramatic par five 15th hole and hung on for a four-shot win, posting a round of level par 72 for a 72-hole total of 275 and 13-under-par. 

He made the most birdies ever by a winner, 23 of them, helping him to become the youngest ever Masters champion and seemingly crowned him as the new king of golf, just as the 1963 Masters had done for Jack Nicklaus.

Sports Illustrated certainly thought so in their Masters edition “Ballesteros seems destined to take many more majors. Consider what his game combines: the length of a younger Jack Nicklaus, the boldness of a 1960s Arnold Palmer and the putting touch of a Ben Crenshaw. 

There can be no question that Ballesteros has profited from playing golf in places besides Florida and California. In winning such titles as the Dutch, French, Swiss, Japanese, German, Kenya and Scandinavian opens, and proving he can take the big ones against the best the U.S. has to offer, he is a strong argument for the case that international travel not only broadens the mind but improves the grip and the swing.” Seve received the jacket from the first golfer since the first Masters to win the title on his debut appearance, Fuzzy Zoeller was 27 and had won just once prior to his Masters win, it was very much an upset at that time even though he would go on to win a US Open 5 years later, Seve winning however was no surprise but what was surprising was that he would only win once more at Augusta. It was not for the lack of trying though. 

Somewhat shockingly Seve would miss the cut in 1981 as defending champion but in the very next year following 5 wins on the European Tour and 1 in Japan Ballesteros would bounce back into contention at Golf's First Major.

Tough conditions over the first couple of days in 1982 led to high scoring at Augusta National but Seve kept himself within touching distance of the lead with two rounds of 73 to sit two-over-par going into the weekend, and with more spring like conditions on Saturday the scoring came down and with it the chances of the 1980 champion improved with a four-under-par 68 to move to two-under-par for the tournament and place him three shots behind Craig Stadler in a tie for second place. 

But despite Stadler playing the final six holes in four-over-par Seve could not find that vital birdie to tie and force himself into the play-off, Stadler would defeat Dan Pohl on the first extra hole to claim his first and only Major title. 3 more worldwide wins in the next 12 months and Seve came into the 1983 Masters as one of the leading protagonists once again, and this time he would make no mistake in claiming a third Major title and second green jacket.  

The first round of the 1983 Masters was highlighted by the play of Arnold Palmer, the four-time Masters champion was 53 years of age but produced a round of 68 to sit one off the lead held by Jack Renner, Raymond Floyd and Gil Morgan who each posted rounds of 67 on a beautiful day for scoring in Georgia. 

Seve matched Palmer with a 68 and was well placed on a leaderboard which the leading 8 players were separated by just one stroke, Seve would however be the only man who moved forward at the 1983 Masters. A second round 70 would put him into second place but on the third day the conditions would be tough and the master at minimizing the damage did so again with a third round of 73 in contrast to the round of 76 shot by Gil Morgan and 78 by Jack Renner, Seve remained in second place to Raymond Floyd by one stroke but this time in the final round he would take advantage of mistakes by the contenders on the second nine.

Ballesteros bounced out of the traps with a birdie three at the first hole to tie Floyd for the lead and then shook the field with an eagle three at the second hole to hit the front, he never looked back. He extended his lead to six shots before bogeys at the 10th and 12th reduced his advantage to four with six to play. Two Masters wins by four strokes making the Spaniard one of the most dominant golfers in Masters history in terms of margins of victory, his place among the legends of the game was now secure with a third major title and second emphatic win at Augusta National. 

Sensationally again Seve would miss the cut when defending his title in 1984 but another major victory would be just around the corner. Despite The Masters being the tournament in which Seve showed the most consistency, 8 top 10 finishes in 11 starts between 1980 and 1990, it was at The Open Championship where the Matador was most loved, he was cherished by and supported by the British golf fan and in 1984 on the course Augusta was modelled after Ballesteros provided the iconic moment which has come to symbolize Seve.

After a thrilling battle with Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson on the final day at the Old Course in St Andrews Seve came to the famous 18th knowing a birdie would be critical to giving him any chance of success at the Home of Golf. Having played his approach to around 15 feet to the right of the hole he faced a devilish breaking putt with the eyes of the golfing world on him and a record crowd on hand he rolled the putt to the edge of the hole and the ball hung there for a brief moment, before dropping and Ballesteros energetically and enthusiastically punched the air in delight. 

He hugged his caddie Dave Musgrove and left the green punching the air with a beaming smile on his face, he had won a second Open Championship and a fourth major title, he was without question the greatest golfer in the world. The 1985 Masters would be another close call for Seve, finishing in second place two strokes behind his fellow European Bernhard Langer, who would make it three European winners of The Masters in the 1980's proving that Seve wasn't the lone ranger when it comes to European golfers at Augusta, the era of the Europeans was in full swing and Ballesteros should have added two more wins in 1986 and 1987.

The 1986 Masters has universally become known as the greatest Masters ever, but for Seve Ballesteros it is most certainly the major he would have felt the worst about losing, because he had it in the palm of his hands on the second nine on Sunday following a dramatic eagle at the 13th giving himself a two stroke lead over Tom Kite and four stroke advantage over Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus. 

However with a charging Jack Nicklaus making birdie at 13, eagle at 15 and birdies at 16 and 17 the bogeys Seve made at 15 and 17 meant the 1980 and 1983 champion suffered an agonizing defeat when he had one arm in the sleeve of a third green jacket. 12 months later he got even closer to a third Masters title and enjoyed another battle with one of his great rivals in the 1980's – Greg Norman. 

If the 1986 Masters was the most exciting and greatest in some people's opinions then the 1987 had without question one of the most dramatic finishes in golf history, and it was another bitterly disappointing defeat for both Seve and Norman, following the incredible 140-feet chip in from Georgia native Larry Mize on the second play-off hole. Seve, Mize and Norman tied after 72-holes at 3-under-par and went into extra holes, Seve made a bogey on the tenth hole and Norman and Mize made par fours to progress to the 11th hole where Mize's Miracle ended the tournament in extraordinary fashion.

Seve would win one more major at the place he won his first 9 years earlier with a round which Nick Faldo calls the greatest round he has ever seen, a 65 on Monday in the final round after rain washed Sunday out. Ballesteros defeated Nick Price and Faldo in one of his most legendary individual performances, but the way in which he swung the club was beginning to take its toll and major success would elude him for the rest of his career. The five-time Major champion would win a further 20 tournaments around the world following his success at Royal Lytham and St Anne's and there would still be flashes of brilliance but the dominant and daunting Seve of the mid-80's was less prevalent. His final win came in the 1995 Spanish Open.

One of the defining elements of Seve's career was match play and his role in reviving the Ryder Cup cannot be underestimated, and because of the respect the European Tour had for this role played by Ballesteros they selected Spain as the host country for the 1997 Ryder Cup, and the magnificent Valderrama, known as the Augusta of Europe, would stage the tournament. Seve was selected as the overwhelming choice to be Europe's captain and he performed the job in his own unique style, leading Europe to an emotional victory in the rain in Spain. It was to be the crowning glory of Severiano Sota Ballesteros' career.

The death of Ballesteros left his family and close friends bereft and had a profound impact upon all of the golfers who had competed with, against and played alongside Seve during 15 years at the very top of golf. It is somewhat apt that the winner of the first Masters Tournament following his death was Bubba Watson. 

The flair with which Watson plays the game and the outrageous skill shown by his title clinching shot in the play-off against Louis Oosthuizen more than had the hallmark of Seve on it, it was as if he had played it from heaven himself. Then in September his spirit seemed to will Europe to an incredible comeback at Medinah, there are golfers, there are great golfers, there are legendary golfers and then there are iconic golfers. 

Golfers who transcend their sport and leave a legacy that will be felt in the sport for decades later, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Tiger and Seve are these men who have each contributed to the game at a level far greater than any other golfers. 

All of them loved and love Augusta and all of them played at their peak at Augusta, all of them are artists, Augusta is the canvas and Seve is Monet, Picasso and Da Vinci.

Words by Matt Hooper

2021 Masters: Tee-times for Rounds One and Two announced
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New father Jon Rahm will play alongside Rory McIlroy and American Xander Shauffele for the first two rounds of the 2021 Masters at Augusta, as the draw was announced today. McIlroy is making his 7th attempt at completing the Career Grand Slam this week, but comes into the tournament off a run of poor form, which led to bringing Pete Cowen onto his coaching team.
Jon's wife Kelley gave birth over the weekend to  Kepa Cahill Rahm and the Spaniard will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Danny Willett, who came into the Masters in 2016 as a new father and ended up shocking the golfing world to overcome Jordan Spieth.
Xander Schauffele has had a quiet few weeks after a consistent year which failed to yield a victory, but several high finishes, and it wouldn't surprise many if he contended this week.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson to play alongside Lee Westwood and US Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci. Johnson set a record low scoring total last November and now stands as the player who has spent the third most weeks as World Number One after Tiger Woods and Greg Norman.
Westwood is hoping to break Jack Nicklaus's record as the oldest Masters champion, the Englishman is 47 and had back-to-back runner-up finishes at Bay Hill and Sawgrass in March. The former World Number One has finished second twice at Augusta and led through 54-holes in 2010.
Scotland have three participants in the tournament, Sandy Lyle will play with Matt Jones and Dylan Fritelli, Martin Laird will play with Vijay Singh and Robert Macintyre will play with Mike Weir and CT Pan. Macintyre is making his Masters debut, and recently moved inside the world's top 50 after consistent play around the world in the first few months of the season.
4-time Major Champion Brooks Koepka will play the first two rounds with 2-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and emerging European star Viktor Hovland. Koepka is playing, to the surprise of many, following recent knee surgery. 
The full draw is as follows:
Jordan Spieth ended a near 4-year winless streak at the Valero Texas Open last Sunday, and will tee off last on Thursday alongside PGA Champion and WGC-Workday Champion Collin Morikawa, as well as Masters runner-up Cameron Smith.
Smith became the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60's at the 2020 Masters, but was a distant second to the dominant Dustin Johnson.
Spieth has a remarkable Augusta record, having finished in the top three on four occasions and has never missed the cut in The Masters. Morikawa made his Masters debut last November, and has never played the tournament in Spring. achieving a rare feat of winning a Major before he had played in The Masters when he won last August's PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.
2021 Masters: A This Is St Andrews Original
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The year of my 18th birthday.
The year the world changed forever after 9/11.
The second year of a new millennium.
The launch of iTunes and the iPod.
The launch of Wikipedia.
The year of Foot and Mouth, BSE in the UK.
The year in which the IRA commences disarmament after peace talks.
The End of the Old World, the Beginning of the New World.
The year of perhaps the greatest Sporting Achievement of All-time.

How is it possible that 20 years have passed since this most momentous of years? 

A momentous year in my life for several reasons, chief among them turning 18 and becoming an adult. I was never one for drinking as a teenager before the age of 18, because I wanted to become an adult and make it special.

I pretty much can’t drink anyway, as was proved over the next decade! 

I turned 18 on September 16, just five days before that the world changed forever. 
I’ll never forget that day. I was leaving school to go to my first part-time job, which I had started back in May, and my mum was waiting for me in the car park outside the school to tell me the news. If I am honest, I wasn’t really sure what the World Trade Centre was back then, I had obviously seen the twin towers but not really paid much attention to it. 

Much of the chat at work was about what had happened, but the gravity of it only hit when I got home at about half past five that evening. 9/11 would see 2,977 innocent victims claimed by the terrorist attacks in the United States and would change the world forever.

It would change the way we travel and the security measures to protect us, it would change the political landscape and it would put much of the world back into war in the middle east. 
That week the World’s best golfers were in St Louis for the WGC-American Express Championship, but the championship was cancelled out of respect for the victims of the attacks, many of whom were employees of American Express, who were based in the World Trade Centre. It also had ramifications for that September’s Ryder Cup, which was due to be played at the Belfry. The matches were moved back by a year. It was clear everything was going to be different from now on.

That week can be seen as a dividing point in history, as can 2001 as a whole. And perhaps 2020 will be viewed in the same way in years from now. Back in 2001 there was no doubt about who was the most pre-eminent sportsperson on the planet.

2001 was the year in which Tiger Woods elevated himself from outstanding golfer to legendary golfer and iconic sportsman. But to appreciate how that came to be we need to backtrack to the summer of 2000.

The year 2000. The start of a new millennium. An Open Championship year in St Andrews.
One month before the Old Course, was Pebble Beach.

And perhaps the greatest singular performance in the history of sport.

That week Pebble Beach was hard. Very Hard.

The week began with soft conditions in a mist and scoring in the opening round was relatively good for a US Open. But the course dried out. The wind blew, And this beautiful course showed its teeth.

The cut for the 2000 US Open was +7, or 149 strokes. Pebble Beach, unusually, was set up as a Par 71 for the 2000 US Open. Just 5 players broke par for the first two rounds. By the end of Saturday only one man stood under par.

The 2000 US Open was one of the hardest US Open Championships we have ever seen. A score of +6 got you a top 10 finish.

But that week Tiger Woods was absolutely without a rival. 6-under after Thursday, 8-under after Friday, and after a remarkable level par round on Saturday, and 12-under after Sunday.
He won by 15 shots. The greatest margin of victory in Major Championship history. 

The only player under par, or even near par. Second placed Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez were 3-over-par. Woods’ round on Saturday was truly incredible. In the hands of any other golfer, it would have been an 80. There were 16 rounds in the 80’s and only 3 rounds of par or better. 

Woods win at Pebble Beach meant he came to St Andrews in July with the career grand slam in his sights. An astonishing 8-stroke win on the Old Course, with Els again runner-up, confirmed his place in history and a first Claret Jug.

His record-breaking performance meant he was by far and away the world number one, more dominant than we had ever seen before, and coming into that August’s PGA Championship at Valhalla he was the overwhelming favourite. The odds of Tiger winning the PGA at Valhalla were approximately 1.6/1, or in words, a near certainty.

Who could challenge this behemoth of the sporting world?

Ernie Els, a past World Number One, had finished second in the last two majors by a combined 23 shots. Phil Mickelson was nowhere to be seen.

Of course, step forward the World Number 47, Bob May.

May was a journeyman. He had won the British Masters on the European Tour, but in all truth hadn’t done anything of significance in America, and he had never played in the PGA Championship, only making a total of 8 Major appearances in his career.

Yet May provided the sternest challenge Tiger faced all year. Tiger led after rounds 1, 2 and 3 and it seemed round four would be a coronation. He started the final round 1 clear of the unheralded May, who it was assumed was along for the ride to witness history. May had other ideas and produced one of the most remarkable underdog performances we have ever seen.

The par-five second hole was the first turning point, with May making a birdie and Tiger making bogey. Incredibly May led the PGA Championship. Inexplicably May birdied the fourth hole and had a two-stroke lead. Could he possibly be the biggest party pooper in history? The 2-shot gap remained at the 6th when they both bogeyed, but it was time for Tiger to turn it up. The World Number One birdied the 7th and 8th, and the pair were tied heading into the back nine.

The back nine was perhaps the most remarkable we had seen in the Majors, with both players trading birdie after birdie in the kind of heavyweight slug fest we had hoped to see between Woods and Els, or Woods and Mickelson.

Woods eventually overcame May by a single shot in a 3-hole playoff and he had matched the legendary achievements of Ben Hogan by winning three Major titles in 1 year.
And so, the countdown to Augusta began.

The anticipation of what Tiger could achieve at the following spring’s Masters was immense. No player had held all four professional Majors at the same time. Yet it seemed improbable that Woods wouldn’t complete this remarkable and historic feat.

Woods swept all before him in 2000, and after his win at Valhalla he added further titles at the NEC Invitational where he shot 61, the Canadian Open where he hit one of the all-time great shots on 18 to seal the Triple Crown, and in his mother’s Thailand at the Johnnie Walker Classic. He ended the year 2000 with a remarkable, unprecedented average Official World Golf Ranking points of 29.40, giving him a near 18-point lead as World Number One.

But at the start of 2001 he didn’t continue his dominance. 

He finished 8th at the Mercedes Championships, 5th in Phoenix, 13th at Pebble Beach, 4th at Torrey Pines, 13th at Riviera and lost out to Thomas Bjorn in Dubai. The media were calling it a slump, or a drought.

The drought ended at Bay Hill, with an epic duel with and victory over Phil Mickelson. Having driven out of position at the 72nd hole he played a stunning iron shot to the green and holed the putt across the green for a dramatic win. Then the following week came the “Better than most” putt and victory at Sawgrass. Woods overcame Vijay Singh and the unheralded Jerry Kelly in a Monday finish.

Woods had won back-to-back again and now he was back to his dominant best heading to Augusta. 

We were set for a historic 2001 Masters.

And, my goodness, it did not disappoint.

Tiger made a slow start on Thursday posting a round of 70 to sit five shots back of leader Chris DiMarco. Phil Mickelson shot 67 and was once again in contention for his first Major title.

On the Friday, the big names emerged from the shadows. DiMarco still led at 10-under but both Woods and David Duval shot rounds of 66 to move into contention, and Mickelson followed up his first day effort with a 69.

A level par round of 72 on Saturday from DiMarco allowed others to pass him. Tiger took with lead with a round of 68, and Mickelson ended the day one behind him after another 69. Ernie Els and David Duval were 3 back and we were set for an epic and unmissable Sunday.

In the late 1990’s when Tiger emerged onto the world scene his chief rivals were David Duval, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els.

David Duval was World Number One during 1999 after having won The Players Championship in March 1999 in addition to 8 PGA Tour wins across 1998 and 1999, but yet to win a Major. He had already won the World Cup alongside Woods in 2000, and the two were close friends, yet fierce rivals on the course. 

Ernie Els had already won 2 Majors, the 1994 and 1997 US Open Championships, and was a superstar of the worldwide game, yet the South African had been defeated in all the head-to-head battles he and Woods had in 2000.

Phil Mickelson was everyone’s favourite. The Californian had endured painful defeats at Augusta and in the US Open before but had defeated Woods at the 2000 Tour Championship as well as ending his win streak of 6 tournaments at the 2000 Buick Invitational.

Could all four possibly be at the top of the leaderboard heading into the back nine on Sunday and give us a fantasy finale to the Tiger Woods bid for history?

Sadly, for Els it just didn’t happen in the final round, four pars followed by a bogey at the fifth put him four back of the lead and he could never put himself into the picture on the back nine. But splendidly Woods, Duval and Mickelson served up a classic.

Woods, starting with a 1 stroke lead, bogeyed the first to fall into a tie with Mark Calcavecchia and Phil Mickelson. Duval also bogeyed, but went on a mad run to the turn with 6 birdies and 1 further bogey to stand on the tenth tee at 13-under-par.

Mickelson would make four birdies and 2 bogeys going out to match Duval at 13-under, and Tiger birdied the second, seventh and eighth to regain the lead at 14-under. So here we were, the second nine on Sunday with Tiger Woods, playing with Phil Mickelson, and David Duval all in contention for the Green Jacket. Duval and Mickelson looking for validation and that first Major victory, Woods looking for a historic fourth Major win on the bounce.

Duval made a sensational birdie at the difficult tenth hole to draw level with Woods, then Woods unleashed a superb drive on the eleventh and followed it with a splendid approach to a couple of feet to set up birdie. The World Number One led again at 15-under-par.

Mickelson would bogey the eleventh, but Woods then bogeyed the twelfth and once again the tournament was in the balance. On the Par-five thirteenth Woods hit a fabulous 3-wood off the tee into the fairway, setting up a crucial birdie to get back to 15-under. And with 5 holes to play the situation was Tiger -15, Duval -14, Mickelson -13. The atmosphere was electric.

Duval would then birdie the fifteenth to tie Woods again, but Tiger played a stunning approach to the fifteenth, and it looked certain he would extend his lead again, but three putts later, allied with a Mickelson birdie, we had a stunning scenario of Tiger and Duval leading Mickelson by 1 with 3 holes to play.

The sixteenth would be the critical hole, with Duval and Mickelson both making bogeys to hand Woods the lead once more, it was a lead he would not relinquish. After pars all round on 17 Duval would narrowly miss a birdie putt on 18 and had to sit in the clubhouse at 14-under, hoping Woods would make bogey.

Tiger unleashed an epic drive on the 72nd hole, leaving himself a lob wedge from some 65 yards into the hole. It set up a birdie putt which he would bury, and victory was his. He had overcome his two closest rivals in the game and prevailed in a classic Masters, along with winning the fourth consecutive Major and completing what was known as The Tiger Slam.

Woods’s reaction after holing the putt showed the enormity of the achievement had hit him, hiding his face under his cap whilst he composed himself.

CBS’s Jim Nantz declared “There it is! As Grand As it Gets!” It certainly was.

In 20 years since this moment players have won 2 in a row, but nobody has come close to this achievement and they may never do.

Woods wouldn’t win another Major in 2001, but between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2001 Tiger won 25 titles, including 5 Major Championships. In 66 starts around the world he finished either first or second 31 times and recorded 48 top 10 finishes. Remarkable statistics in any era.

Perhaps a stretch of dominance we will never see again. 

Following the 2001 Masters the Augusta National Golf Club extended the course from 6,985 yards to 7,270 yards, including lengthening the 18th from 405 yards to 465 yards.
The events of 2001 changed Augusta National forever, and within 5 months of Woods completing the Tiger Slam, the world would change forever.

2001, A year never to be forgotten.

Original article by Matt Hooper
Image: ESPN Images

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2021 Masters: A This Is St Andrews Original
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Modern golf originated in Scotland in the fifteenth century and the widely regarded Home of Golf is St Andrews in Fife, Scotland and from the first Open Championship at Prestwick in 1860 to the 1910 US Open at Philadelphia Cricket Club the championships of golf were absolutely dominated by Scottish and English golfers, winning 65 out of the first 66 Majors played before John McDermott won back-to-back United States Open Championships in 1911 and 1912. 

At the heart of this British dominance of early championship golf was The Great Triumvirate, the first great trio of golfers who dominated The Open Championship between 1894 and 1914, winning a combined 17 Majors including 16 Open Championships and 1 US Open. Harry Vardon, James Braid and John Henry Taylor won 7, 5 and 5 Majors respectively and remain among the leading five most successful European golfers of all time. Vardon's record of 6 Open Championships set in 1914 has yet to be matched let alone surpassed and the same can be said for his total of 7 Majors for a European golfer. 

Another great British golfer of the era was Scotsman Willie Anderson, and his total of four United States Open Championships achieved in 1904 has only been matched by Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus and has not been surpassed in the last 109 years.

The 1913 US Open however changed this and was a seminal moment for the game of golf in the United States, Amateur Francis Ouimet's stunning play-off win over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray sparked the first great golfing boom in America and between 1913 and 1933 the 51 Majors played in that period were split 40 to the United States and 11 to England and Scotland. 

The PGA Championship was established in 1916 and in 1934 the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament was staged at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta Georgia, it would be 25 years before the notion of the Grand Slam was widely accepted but golf's four majors were in place. 

In the era of the four major championships no British golfer won a Major in the United States between 1933 and 1969 until Tony Jacklin broke through at the 1970 US Open at Hazeltine National, winning by 7 on what was regarded as one of the hardest championship courses ever set up.

It would be another 18 years before a Brit triumphed in the United States of America.
Sandy Lyle was born in Shrewsbury, England but grew up in Scotland and represented Scotland at Amateur level, he was a prodigious talent in his youth and turned professional at the age of 19 in 1977, the same year in which Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus did battle for The Open Championship at Turnberry. 

Lyle won 12 tournaments around the world before his major breakthrough at Royal St George's in the 1985 Open Championship, this victory gave the Scot the opportunity to go to America and compete full time and he won four PGA Tour events in 1986, 87 and 88 including the 1987 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. 

The winning score of 14-under-par over the Stadium course was the lowest achieved in the six editions of the tournament at TPC Sawgrass, he would also go on to win the Greater Greensboro Open, the week prior to The Masters of 1988. 

Following two high finishes at Augusta in '86 and '87 Lyle was ready to claim a second Major title and allied with the experience of knowing he could win in America on a regular basis the first Major of the year held no fears for the 29-year-old. 

Lyle began the 1988 Masters with a one-under-par 71 on a day when scoring was at a premium but bounced to a five-under-par 67 and 6-under for the first two rounds put him into the lead and he had as good a chance as any Brit since Peter Oosterhuis in 1973 to become the first from our islands to claim a green jacket. 

A third round of 72 left him at 6-under for 54 holes and leading going into the final round, the interest in Great Britain was immense as the primetime coverage was beamed to millions of homes across the UK by the BBC. 

Lyle stretched his lead to two shots at the turn but a double-bogey at the par three 12th hole saw him slip into a tie with Mark Calcavecchia, and he missed opportunities for birdie at both the par five 13th and 15th leaving himself one behind Calcavecchia with three holes to play. 

He made a 12 foot birdie putt at the 16th to draw back level with the American, before parring the 17th and going to the 18th knowing he needed to birdie the hole to avoid a play-off and claim the title. 

Only twice before had this been achieved, by Arnold Palmer in 1960 and Gary Player in 1974. His task was made all the harder by the pummelled 2-iron he hit into the fairway bunkers on the left of the 72nd hole, a seemingly fatal blow if not to his hopes of a play-off but almost certainly to his hopes of a birdie to win.

What followed was perhaps the purest strike of a golf ball in a pressure situation ever seen, from the up-slope of the bunker and in an 'iffy' lie Lyle's 7-iron from the bunker sailed over the pin and rolled slowly but surely back down to the same level as the hole. 

The resulting 6-foot putt slipped into the side of the hole and Lyle performed the now infamous jig in celebration. The Scot joined Palmer and Player as a champion who birdied the final hole to win and made history as the first British winner of The Masters and first Brit to win a Major on American soil since Tony Jacklin. 

His win was the fourth European win at Augusta in 9 Masters and would launch an unprecedented era of British success at Augusta, four years of domination and dramatic wins on the 18th hole and beyond.

The 1987 Open Champion Nick Faldo took up the game after watching Nicklaus play in the 1971 Masters on television, he was so inspired he started playing within the next few days and with five years he was a professional and he won in his second season as a professional and was playing at Augusta just 3 years after turning professional. 

A rapid rise indeed. Following a final round 76 in the 1984 Masters that saw him go from a tie for the 54-hole lead to a tie for 15th Faldo decided that changes were needed to his swing in order to compete more consistently in the Major Championships. 

The changes, under the tutelage of David Leadbetter, made Faldo even better than he was at a young age and he made his major breakthrough at the 1987 Open Championship at Muirfield and a two-win season in 1988 set up Faldo for a crack at the major which slipped through his fingers 5 years earlier. 

The Englishman began with a 4-under-par 68 to sit one stroke behind Lee Trevino in a tournament which was defined by wind and rain and only 10 players broke par on Thursday, with only 3 doing so on Friday Faldo managed to tie for the lead with Trevino despite posting a 73 in the second round. 

The terrible weather forced the third round into Sunday and Faldo started appallingly playing the first 12 holes in 3-over-par to fall four shots behind Ben Crenshaw with 5 holes to play on Sunday morning. On the resumption on Sunday morning Faldo didn't fare any better and limped home to a 77 and finished 54-holes in a tie for 9th place and fully five shots adrift of Crenshaw, it appeared as though his Masters chance had slipped away again. 

But the swing changes were made to make Faldo more capable of competing for Majors on a consistent basis and he wasn't going give up on a second major title without giving it a good go in the final round. 

Scoring improved generally and Ben Crenshaw's 71 saw him slip back into the pack as Faldo and Scott Hoch took full advantage, in an exciting final round 6 different players held at least a share of the lead and a stunning final round 65 featuring 8 birdie from the Englishman saw him post 5-under in the clubhouse ahead of Scott Hoch. 

Hoch had the opportunity to clinch his first major after making a birdie at the fifteenth hole to reach -6 and Greg Norman and Ben Crenshaw also had the opportunity to reach 6-under but both going into the final hole at 5-under made bogeys to fall out of contention. Hoch bogeyed the 17th hole and had to settle for a play-off with Faldo in the gathering gloom.
In the play-off Hoch had another golden chance to put it away with a stunning approach to the tenth hole setting up what seemed like a straightforward birdie, two feet away from the green jacket. 

The North Carolina native inexplicably missed and allowed Faldo off the hook following his bunkered approach, the tournament continued to the 11th hole where the Englishman would strike.

Following a pushed approach by Hoch and a chip to six feet Faldo had a 25-foot putt in the gloomy conditions to win, and it went into the hole like a rabbit down a burrow, the gallery erupted and Faldo punched the air in euphoric joy at winning The Masters and fulfilling a 20-year dream.

The only golfer ever to have defended the green jacket was Jack Nicklaus, but in 1990 that was to change as Faldo, in an almost carbon copy of 1989, claimed a second successive play-off win on the 11th hole after starting the final round with a double-bogey to fall five shots behind with 17 holes to play. Six birdies and a bogey later he found himself tied with Raymond Floyd and heading down the tenth hole in search of history. 

They both parred the first extra hole and when Floyd's approach found the pond to the left of the 11th green Faldo required only two putts for a piece of golfing history, the first Brit to win twice at Augusta and only the second player ever to defend the green jacket.

In 1991 Faldo was set to make history and become the first golfer ever to win three successive Masters titles, he made a decent go at it and finished in a tie for twelfth but the British baton was handed from a Scotsman to an Englishman to a Welshman as Ian Woosnam claimed a dramatic final hole victory over fellow European Jose Maria Olazabal. 
The “wee Welshman” made a courageous 5 foot putt on the 72nd green to clinch a one-stroke victory and complete an incredible period of British domination at Augusta. Nick Faldo would complete a remarkable hat-trick of comeback wins in 1996 when he shot 67 to Greg Norman's 77 to overturn a 5 shot deficit for the third time.

Words by Matt Hooper

Image by Ryan Schreiber (Augusta National Practice Ground)

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