Rahm-ing The Competition

The Masters. Once a year, in early April, ninety of the best golfers in the world congregate in Augusta, Georgia, to compete for the green jacket, and one of the most prestigious titles in all of golf, the Masters Champion. This year was the 85th playing of the tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Club every year. All of the greatest golfers of all time have a green jacket to their name, and winning the Masters can elevate a player to another level of golfing history. It is a tournament that every young golfer dreams of winning.

Every year in professional golf, there are four major championships. The Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May, the US Open in June, and the Open Championship in July. These are the four biggest tournaments of the year, and winning one of them is enough to make you one of the greats of the game. Winning multiple, puts you in a different league entirely. Only 6 players have won all 4 throughout their career, this is considered the “career grand slam.” The Masters starts off the major season, and is arguably the one that is the most coveted in the golfing world.

This year, there was another level of depth and complexity added to the drama of the tournament. LIV Golf (a Saudi backed golf league, competing with the PGA tour), and it’s players, were a significant storyline heading into the event. Starting in 2021, LIV Golf tempted some of the game’s best away from the PGA tour by offering outrageous amounts of money, reaching into the 100 millions. However, these players would not be allowed to play on the PGA tour anymore, and would also not receive World Ranking points from LIV tournaments. World Ranking points is one of the fundamental ways to qualify for majors, and because of their decision, their world rankings have dropped significantly. Despite this, 19 LIV Golf members teed it up at the Masters this year.

With this event being one of the only ones where any of the LIV players can earn world ranking points, this year’s Masters was of utmost importance for them. Without a good performance, many of them may never play in a major championship for the rest of their careers. Also important was the top 12 mark, as everyone who finishes inside the top 12 at the masters automatically earns a spot back next year. 

While LIV was a significant storyline heading into the week, once play began, it was all about the golf. Brooks Koepka, 4-time major champion, and member of the LIV Golf League, shot out of the gates with an opening round 65. He followed that up with a 67 on Friday morning vaulting him to 12 under par for the tournament. His game was in polished form and he seemed to be back to his 2017-2019 self that won four major championships. Right behind him after 36 holes was the number one player in the world, Jon Rahm. After an opening double bogey in round 1, he made 7 birdies and an eagle to shoot 65. After battling the weather and delays on friday afternoon and saturday morning, Rahm fought to a second round 69, placing him 2nd, two behind Koepka. U.S. Amateur Champion 23 year old Sam Bennett was in 3rd, four back of Koepka, but it was clear at this point that the champion was going to be Koepka or Rahm, as they had separated themselves from the field.