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As the dust settles on another edition of The Masters, it’s time to reflect. 

Who leaves Augusta having scored pass marks on their week’s work? And who, quite frankly, must do better? 

The grades are in…

Hideki Matsuyama – A+ 

At long last, Japan has its first male major champion – and deservedly so. Ever since he hit the front with a sublime back nine performance on Saturday, it was hard to imagine any outcome other than a Matsuyama win. Bar a brief wobble when he rinsed his approach into 15, Sunday was effectively a coronation for the man who won the low amateur spoils at Augusta exactly a decade ago. The biggest compliment you can give him is to say that he sucked the drama out of what is traditionally one of the most dramatic days on the sporting calendar simply by being so damn good. Congratulations to him.

Will Zalatoris – A

How impressive was the Californian’s performance? Let’s put it this way: it was the first solo runner-up finish by a Masters rookie since Dan Pohl in 1982. From outta nowhere, he almost completed his own Cinderella story. His day will come.

Jordan Spieth – A-

Every time he popped up on screen, it seemed as though Spieth was in trouble – and yet, somehow, he ended the week in a tie for third. Incredible. He’s so easy to root for, is Jordan. Of all the golfers on tour, he is arguably the one that amateurs can most relate to because it looks as though the game doesn’t come easy to him. His technique is far from textbook, his decision-making is often questionable, and he has to battle for every score he posts. He also has a fierce will to win and “never-say-die” attitude. Next stop: the US PGA and a potential career grand slam victory. He couldn’t… could he?

Robert MacIntyre – A

What more can you say about this lad? Making the cut this week would have been an enormous achievement. Instead, he only goes and birdies the last to finish in a tie for 12th and secure an instant return to Augusta next year. The signs for the future are hugely encouraging, too. He had 21 birdies this week – the most of any player in the field. If he can eliminate the sloppy bogeys – which will surely only come with experience – it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to believe that Bob can be a Masters champion in the future.

The course – B+

After the soft shoot-out in November – ‘a Masters in name only’, according to Brandel Chamblee on last week’s bunkered Podcast – it was undeniably good to see firmer, faster conditions this week. The famous kaleidoscopic colourscheme created by the variety of fauna on the property also made a welcome return, as did the iconic back left pin position on 16, moved in November to accommodate the conditions. This was, in a nutshell, much more like it. The sole criticism would be the green speeds, particularly on Thursday when they were Stimping at Usain Bolt. That resulted in a lot of defensive putting. Fine if you like that sort of thing but this correspondent does not.

Bryson DeChambeau – B-

The flat-capped wonder gets props for at least making the cut – seven of his contemporaries inside the top-20 on the OWGR failed to – but, in truth, he was little more than an also-ran. Everything pointed to this being his week: his recent form, his statistics, the fear coursing through the bookies’ veins in the build-up. Augusta, though, continues to be a puzzle that this most analytical of thinkers has no answer for. Maybe now he realises they don’t give out jackets for hitting it miles…

The coverage – C+

A disclaimer: I love Sky Sports. I wouldn’t pay for it if I didn’t. I also get on well with many people who work there. That said, I thought the coverage of this year’s Masters was a bit flat. How many times do we need to be told that Butch Harmon’s father won The Masters, or that young players these days “have no fear” and “come out ready to win”, that Jon Rahm is a new dad, etc? I can’t help but feel the whole telecast needs a bit more energy, a bit more ‘oomph’. That said, at least Sky makes an effort. The BBC highlights package was relegated to the early hours of the morning on BBC 2. Why bother? 

Dustin Johnson – D

A “chocolate fireguard” of a title defence. DJ continues to be one of the game’s great enigmas.

Past champs (50+ Division) – D-

Nine former champions in their 50 pegged it up this week. Only two – Phil Mickelson and Jose Maria Olazabal – made the cut. With a combined age of 525, the group was a combined 88-over-par and accounted for four of the bottom six places on the leaderboard. They broke par only three times in 22 rounds, Phil’s 69 on Saturday the only time any of them went sub-70. Their combined scoring average? Five-over 76. It pains me to say it but, for the credibility of the tournament, Augusta National needs to bring in an upper age limit for past champs; 60 max, 55 even better. People will moan but a major championship is no place for sentimentality. 

Rory McIlroy – F

At one point deep into his round on Friday, McIlroy was ahead of just 11 players on the leaderboard. They included one debutant, two amateurs and five former champions in their 50s. The four-time major-winner had the look of a man who just didn’t want to be there. The most memorable shot he hit all week was the one that cannoned back off his dad’s leg. Says it all, sadly. Over to you, Pete Cowen.

Clichés – F-

“The Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday.” “It’s moving day at Augusta.” Enough already. There’s a fine line between tradition and laziness. Find something new to say. See also: hyperbole. 

Wayne Player – Z

That golf ball stunt during Lee Elder’s moment on Thursday was tone-deaf, tacky and just plain ugly.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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