10 Big Questions about This Year’s Masters

Rory McIlroy, 2023 Masters,(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, 2023 Masters,(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

This year, while watching the Masters, I began asking myself questions:

1. What if Rory McIlroy had consulted Jack Nicklaus and asked him how to play Augusta National?  Would he have won three green jackets by now?

Everyone else has done exactly that, most particularly Tiger Woods, who played a round with both Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer when he was still an amateur. He also played a practice round with Raymond Floyd and Fred Couples.

By doing that, he picked up several generations of know-how as to what to do on the course, where to be, and, more importantly, where not to be. Many past champions have done the same thing, and many have shared their knowledge with newcomers.

2. Who put the brakes on the greens?

Brooks Koepka said to ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt that toward the end of his round, he was leaving putts 3 feet short because the greens were so slow. Usually, the turf at Augusta National is firm and fast. Balls on the green usually roll forever and roll off the greens with vicious speed.

3. What happened with Scottie Scheffler’s putting?  

The ball is going every which way but into the hole. Is it the stress of being No.1 and of defending at the Masters? Or is it, as he suggested earlier this week, that we have just not seen him play nearly every shot in the past so we didn’t see the misses?

4. What if Brooks Koepka’s body had not been in such bad shape last year? 

Would he still have defected to LIV? Only Brooks knows for sure.

5. Will Zalatoris withdrew from the Masters with back problems.  Will Will ever get fixed? 

He’s too young to have those kinds of issues. Would talking to Justin Thomas help him?  They both have violent moves with every shot. Maybe Zalatoris’ body just doesn’t have the resilience of Thomas’.

6. Is Jason Day playing better because he realized he needed to be in the top 70 by the end of the year to keep his PGA Tour card? 

Day, also a victim of back problems in the past, was 123 in the World Rankings at the end of 2021. He was 117 at the end of 2022.

That’s a far cry from the 47 weeks he was No. 1 in the world or the 258 weeks he spent in the top 10 between 2014 and 2017. Call it another ramification of the designated events and the new top 70 guaranteed-to-play Tour.

7. What if there had been more people left at the 17th hole after play was stopped?

Patrons were asked to leave the course because of bad weather that was headed their way.  Some at the 17th tee didn’t heed the warning, but enough of them did so that no one was crushed by the giant pine trees left of the tee box that came crashing down.

The next time you are asked to leave a golf tournament because of bad weather, do it.

8. What if Brooks Koepka sets a new scoring record at the Masters by the end of the third round, never mind the fourth round?

Would Augusta National have to buy up the entirety of Augusta CC and recreate eight or nine more holes to provide the needed challenge? Or is Major Koepka’s play a one-off this year?

Right now, the Masters low scoring record is held by Dustin Johnson at 268 (65-70-65-68), 20-under par.  That was the Masters played in November when the course was extra soft because they were growing in grasses for winter play.

This week the course is also soft. Koepka is already at 12-under par for two rounds. Can 21-22-23-24-under be far behind? Expect that scoring record to fall.

9. Why can’t we all have a golf swing like Fred Couples?

Fred’s 63 years old. Last fall, he shot a 60 in a Champions Tour event.

This week, he is likely to become the oldest golfer to make the cut at the Masters.

Augusta National is, if not his favorite course, one of his top two favorites, the other one being

Riviera CC where Tiger Woods’ Genesis Invitational is played.

10.  Why does nearly everybody love the Masters?

(You know there’s got to be a curmudgeon or two out there who doesn’t.)  It’s probably because the golfers have all won something, so you know who they are already, kind of like the PGA Tour is attempting with their designated events.

Plus the course is really lovely, wonderfully manicured, and the holes, mostly named for trees and shrubs, are all framed perfectly with pine straw, pine trees, magnolias, tea olive, flowering peach, dogwood, and all manner of southern blooming trees and shrubs. Especially the azaleas on the 12th and 13th.

dark. Next. Masters: Projecting Friday’s Cut, Does Tiger Woods Make It?

The land was a nursery before it was a golf course. Presumably, they kept a few plants to decorate the course. They did a great job.