The Masters Is Over For Another YearPosted on: 17 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Are British golfers are becoming serial offenders for raising expectations before fluffing their chances at the final furlong?
The showcase curtain-raising tournament, the first major of the year and the treasured green jacket, has been handed out to a new name – Trevor Immelman.
The 28-year-old clinched his first major crown by three shots ahead of US favourite Tiger Woods at the 72nd Augusta National in the early hours of Monday morning.
Immelman’s final round of 75 was enough for him to be named only the second South African behind Gary Player to win the coveted tournament and he became the first wire-to-wire winner since Raymond Floyd back in 1976, ending on eight under.
Woods’ anticipated charge for the title never materialised, although the world number one climbed from fifth up to second, he was left rueing missed opportunities as Immelman stumbled over the finishing line.
The triumph has marked a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the Cape Town-born golfer who had missed the opening eight weeks of the 2008 PGA Tour season after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour on his diaphragm.
But whilst one golfer was celebrating his success, a host of British golfers were again leaving through the backdoor with promise unfulfilled. Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Luke Donald all failed to live up to expectations.
In fact, Rose, Poulter, Westwood and Casey all seemed to bottle their chances when it mattered most, frustrating themselves and the British fans who haven’t seen a British golfer win the Masters since Nick Faldo in 1996.
Luke Donald failed to make the cut whilst Rose threw away his first day lead to finish way back in 36th. Westwood and Casey finished in 11th, eight shots behind Immelman and British fans began to bemoan their lack of bottle even before the South African had his jacket on.
All had arrived with serious ambition, but yet again hopes were dashed.
But is it not a little harsh to knock the players who perform the best and put themselves into contention?
Well British golfers are becoming serial offenders for raising expectations before fluffing their chances at the final furlong in all major tournaments, so I guess the fans may have a point.
Faldo - three times Masters champion - is joined by Scot Sandy Lyle and Welshman Ian Woosnam as the only three Brits to ever hold the Masters and despite being superbly talented and tremendous ambassadors to their sport, Britain is crying out for Rose, Poulter, Westwood, Casey or Donald to end the hoodoo and take the title back to the UK.
The before mentioned five must take heed from Immelman’s performance over the last four days and there is hope. The South African has a base in London and is good friends with all five; will the champion’s display rub off on them?
We can only hope. Faldo, Lyle and Woosnam were all experts in the bread-and-butter competitions and if the British top five are to ever challenge for major honours they’ll need to start acquiring the winning habit on the European and PGA Tours sooner rather than later.
That’s what gave the previous champions the edge in the final round, transferring hope and expectation into nail-biting, suspense-thrilling victories.
It’s back to the drawing board for the British hopefuls and June can’t come soon enough when all eyes will be on the US Open.
By Mark O'Haire
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