As 73 majors worth of frustration fled the body of Sergio Garcia on Sunday evening, his emotional release wasn’t the only deep exhale in the world of golf. Each year is a crescendo of emotion to Sunday at Augusta, the pinnacle of the golf fandom year.
Even with three majors, playoffs and a Presidents Cup still to come, there is a hangover after the Masters ends. No tournament will be greener. No event will be as watched. Will any event top the Garcia-Justin Rose showdown? How does the 2017 Masters set up the world of professional golf moving forward?
This Month: It will be rest time for the world’s best after a brutal stretch of two World Golf Championships events and a major in the span of six weeks. Dustin Johnson and Garcia have both indicated they won’t play again until The Players Championship.
For die-hard fans though, circle the last weekend of April on the calendar. Team golf is an official Tour event, with the Zurich Classic of New Orleans featuring a two-man format. Rickie Fowler and Jason Day ham-and-egging? Yes, please!
This Spring: The best field in golf will gather from May 11-14, where there will be more questions than answers.
How will Johnson’s back be feeling? Answer: Likely, just fine.
How will Garcia handle the spotlight of being a major winner? Answer: Really well.
As poor of a match Augusta National was for Garcia, TPC Sawgrass is perfect for his talents with the driver. He has five top-four finishes at the Players in his career (won in 2008), including two in the last three years. With a liberating Masters win, this tournament offers the perfect chance to open the floodgates of winning.
This Summer: There are three majors to go, and the favorites are lining up. Johnson is the betting-line leader for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, for good reason. With its wide-open links layout and unfamiliar to the world’s best, Johnson’s skill set should separate him from the pack.
Rory McIlroy should be a favorite at the PGA Championship on a golf course (Quail Hollow) where he has won twice. If it’s soft when players arrive in August, it’s probably his to lose.
That leaves the Open Championship, always the most open major of the year. Royal Birkdale is a narrow, protected par-70, which could neutralize the bombers. Who needs this tournament most? What about Jordan Spieth? Rickie Fowler? It could provide a jumpstart to a young star.
This Career: Garcia’s win closed the book on the tumultuous era of his career. Everything moving forward, you would expect, will be joyous and celebrated. The support the Spaniard received Sunday afternoon was as much respecting his comeback as it was a mea culpa from fans who had given him the business for over a decade.
Golf will need a new punching bag. Fans will either invent one or identify one, but it won’t be Garcia. He now possesses a Hall of Fame resume and has earned his pedestal. Good for him.