Column: Young gun Rory spoils a chance for the green jacket
As Rory McIlroy approached the 12th tee in the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday, April 10, you wonder if he could feel the wheels beginning to come off. Coming into the final round at the Masters, the 21-year-old Irish golfer held a commanding four-stroke lead. McIlroy’s lead was solidified by three days of confident, seemingly error-free golf. Many speculated that the coveted green jacket was his to lose.
As the day began, McIlroy pushed out a bogey on the first, sending his Titleist from one bunker to the next, and barely recovering to save the bogey. After three, his lead had dwindled, as he remained unable to score, opening up an eventual four-way tie.
Returning to the lead at 11 under par, McIlroy looked to have lost his killer instinct as he approached the 12. For then the wheels came off. McIlroy posted a triple bogey on the 12, relinquishing the lead he had held all weekend. At this moment, the young phenom, who had all but placed his hands through the green sleeves of Masters history, fell into the ranks of historic Masters choking victims, along with the likes of Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Ken Venturi. McIlroy put his tee shot into the water on 13. He finished eight over for the day, tied for 15th.
McIlroy now shares the heartbreak with the fraternity of golfers who have blown leads at the Masters. Mark Twain called golf “a good walk spoiled.” McIlroy’s letdown makes you wonder if Twain’s statement applies more to these pros falling short than it does to the rest of us duffers playing public courses and watching the Masters from home?
One thing is for certain: McIlroy learned the hardest lesson that a young person can learn. Leads, like happiness, are never certain. The impermanence of things is the only absolute in this world. In sports, the line between heartbreak and history is fine, but absolute.
While this is only a speed bump in the early career of a future star, it can surely be said that Twain was proven right at the course on Magnolia Lane – McIlroy’s good walk was quickly spoiled.