The Masters takes place in April as the first major of the golfing season and all players on the PGA Tour will be vying to don the famous Green Jacket at the end of the tournament. The Green Jacket is arguably the most prestigious of all the prizes available at the majors, although the Claret Jug for winning the British Open is also held in very high esteem by golfers all over the world.
The pressure of winning any title can be overwhelming for even the elite players in the sport, but no tournament seems to cause more meltdowns than The Masters. Greg Norman, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth all saw their quests to win the Green Jacket falter. Spieth has not been the same player since he crumbled in 2016, although he is still backed in the latest golf odds at 12/1 to win the competition in 2022. Spieth was in a rare position to win back-to-back Masters’ crowns before he surrendered the title to Danny Willett.
The root cause has been the back nine, and particularly the 12th hole where players are forced to send a short iron into the green over the water, which has been the cause of notable collapses down the stretch. The fact that the Golden Bell hole has a significant ridge that travels back down to the water plays on the minds of all players, knowing that mis-hitting their stroke will cause irreparable damage to their score. However, players are also wary of hitting the ball too long as they will then be required to chip onto the green, where the surface can be like ice and send the ball down to the water anyway. Shots on the 12th have to be perfect, and the pressure of winning the Masters in front of an expectant crowd can overwhelm anyone.
Brooks Koepka, who appeared to have ice running through his veins after an incredible run of success, was daunted by the 12th in his bid to win the Green Jacket for the first time. He carded a double-bogey on the final round to end his bid as Tiger Woods made history with a brilliant comeback performance. However, it proves that reputations and form count for nothing in the pressure-cooker of the moment. Unlike Spieth, Koepka’s form has not been affected too greatly by his misfire, adding a PGA Championship and four top-five finishes at majors since, but when he takes to the tee at the 12th in 2022, his mistake will be on his mind.
Unlike other tournaments, The Masters is held only at Augusta. Therefore, there is not a great deal players can do to prepare themselves for the challenges of the course. Other than their practice rounds and past experience, there are no other tournaments to find their range at the course or familiarise themselves with the pace of the greens. It is unforgiving and provides the ultimate test of not only the talent of a golfer with a club in hand, but also the mental toughness. It is why we watch in our millions every year to see which players rise or fall at the prospect of the challenge.