We weren’t sure we’d ever say this again. But Tiger Woods is your 2019 Masters Champion. It was his fifth Green Jacket, 15th major, 81st win, and quite frankly, one of the greatest moments in the history of the sport.
On the course, a quartet of amateurs honored the tournament’s history incredibly well. And one of golf’s best big-money players lived up to his reputation. On the other end of the spectrum, Tiger’s win was aided by a big collapse from one of his nearest competitors. And in his bid to complete the Career Grand Slam, Rory McIlroy fell well short.
The 2019 Masters is in the books. The week at Augusta yielded plenty of winners and losers. These were the most notable among them.
Winner: Tiger Woods turns back time
Two years ago, the idea of Tiger winning another major was beyond outlandish. We weren’t even sure if we’d ever see him play again. But that way of thinking has gone the way of the dodo bird. Tiger didn’t play flawless golf this week. But he stayed patient through his mistakes and remained remarkably steady. And much like we saw more than a decade ago when Tiger became a factor late on Sunday, the best players in the world wilted. The comeback may not be quite what Jack Nicklaus did in 1986. But this is the best we’ve seen since that day 33 years ago.
Loser: Francesco Molinari melts down
The Masters doesn’t start until the second round on Sunday. We hear it every year. What happened to Molinari on Sunday proved that. Standing on the 12th tee, he was in control. Then he put his tee shot into the drink and in doing so, really opened a door for Tiger. Even still, Molinari hung on well until 15. There, he pitched a ball too high. It hit a tree, and fell into the water. That led to a double, and for all intents and purposes, the Green Jacket was gone. Molinari has been one of the best players in the world for the last year. But down the stretch on Sunday, he did not look the part.
Winner: Amateurs honor legacy of Bobby Jones
Viktor Hovland claimed the low amateur this year and really earned it. Six amateurs made the trip to Augusta. Four members of that group — Hovland, Alvaro Ortiz, Devon Bling, Takumi Kanaya — made the cut. It’s the first time in 20 years that we’ve seen that many amateurs play the weekend. As a co-founder of both the Augusta National and The Masters, Bobby Jones wanted to be sure that amateurs were always a part of it. This year’s crop did a fantastic job honoring that.
Loser: Rough finish sends Justin Rose home early
Saturday featured a bevy of low scores. Those had to be a real punch in the gut for anyone who missed the cut — especially those who were close. Rose fits that description. Despite a poor first round, Rose stood on the 15th tee on Friday at one-over for the tournament, which was two shots better than what the cut ended up being. Je bogeyed the par-five 15th, and then bogeyed both 17 and 18. With that, the No. 1 ranked player in the world was sent home.
Winner: Patrick Cantlay nearly wins after barely making the cut
Cantlay’s first two rounds this week were a grind. He fired a pair of 73s and made the cut with only one shot to spare. A 64 on Saturday put him in the mix. After making eagle on 15 on Sunday, he held the lead. Cantlay will no doubt be disappointed about bogeys on 16 and 17, which effectively knocked him out of the tournament. But given where he stood 36 holes in, he has a lot to be proud of. On Friday afternoon, nobody would have possibly expected him to be that close down the stretch.
Loser: Sergio Garcia continues post-breakthrough slump
For Sergio, the focus isn’t so much on his missed cut this week, but the overall struggle since his stunning win at the 2017 Masters. Garcia has now played in eight majors since that breakthrough. He’s finished no better than T21 and has now missed six straight cuts. For comparison’s sake, Phil Mickelson had added two more majors in the eight following his long awaited triumph at Augusta in 2004. That was an opening of the floodgates, of sorts. It’s been the exact opposite for Sergio.
Winner: Brooks Koepka still a big game player
We know about the three major wins since the 2017 U.S. Open. But going back to the 2014 PGA Championship Masters, Koepka has finished outside of the top-20 in a major only three times. He didn’t quite pull of the fourth major win this week. But Koepka was a factor right until the end of the day. Over the last two years, Koepka has emerged as one of the best players in the world. And on the biggest stages that golf has to offer, he’s been the most consistent.
Loser: Rory McIlroy misses chance to move on Saturday
Saturday lived up to the “moving day” moniker. Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, and Patrick Cantlay all fired 64s to move up the leaderboard by 14, 24, and 36 spots, respectively. The third round was a golden opportunity for McIlroy to move into contention. It never happened. McIlroy went out in 38 and while he did come back in with a solid 33, the one-under 71 was nowhere near good enough to get himself in the mix for Sunday. McIlroy liked his chances coming into the week, but never gave himself a chance to complete the Career Grand Slam.