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Five Sunday Scenarios

As we gear up for a dawn-to-dusk shootout at the Masters, here is one man’s list of the most intriguing potential outcomes

By Alan Shipnuck

AUGUSTA, Ga.—Soggy fairways and saturated greens forced the postponement of the third round of the Masters on Saturday afternoon with leader Brooks Koepka on the 7th green getting pelted with rain. There is only one upside to this dispiriting development: Masters Sunday is going to be absolutely epic, a dawn-to-dusk shootout on a soft, vulnerable course. Koepka leads by four strokes at 13 under but will begin his Easter morning with a curling 15-footer for par, while his playing partner and nearest pursuer, Jon Rahm, has 7 feet for birdie. It is quite possible that a couple of minutes into the restart, Koepka’s lead will be sliced in half. 

Here is one man’s ranking of the most intriguing possible outcomes for the madcap finish to this Masters:

5. Tiger Woods hits a bunch of good shots, soaks in the adoring cheers, wipes away a tear on the final green and announces he is retiring from major championship golf. It was painful for Tiger to soldier through a long day on Saturday, for him and us. He went bogey-bogey to finish his delayed second round and made the cut on the number only after folks behind him struggled and moved the line from plus-2 to plus-3. Beginning his third round on the 10th tee, Woods looked cold, tight, stiff and miserable. He spun a wedge into the pond on 15 and then hooked a short-iron into the hazard at 16, double bogeying both holes. Among the 54 players who made the cut he is dead last, by three strokes. No one doubts Woods’s heart or resolve, but it has become increasingly clear that the right leg he smashed up in his 2021 car crash is an impediment to playing golf at the highest level. Woods has never wanted to be a ceremonial golfer, and I doubt he has any interest in a drawn-out farewell tour. A quick, heartfelt goodbye at the course that has defined his legend is much more Tiger’s style.

Robin Golf Fire Pit

4. Sam Bennett becomes the first amateur to win the Masters. The Texas A&M sensation got off to a rough start in Round 3, bogeying his first two holes to fall seven shots off of Koepka’s lead. (Bennett made a lone bogey in his first 36 holes.) He bounced back with four consecutive pars, and the restart will give him a chance to reset. Realistically, Bennett’s goal should be to finish in the top 12, which would earn him an invitation to next year’s Masters. But it’s fun to dream.

3. Rahm, 28, runs down Koepka and adds another major championship victory to his C.V. Augusta National has always rewarded a certain Spanish duende and a Rahm win would give him a leg up in the ongoing debate as to who is the best player in the world. 

2. Koepka, 32, puts the hammer down and wins in a blowout. This would have sweeping ramifications for professional golf and Koepka’s place in the pantheon. With five major championship victories, Koepka would have the third-most in the post-Faldo era, behind only Woods and Phil Mickelson, and be tied with legends Seve Ballesteros and Lord Byron Nelson. Returning big, bad Brooks to the front ranks of the game would also be a massive win for LIV Golf. The crown jewel in the sport is winning an Open at St. Andrews, as Cam Smith did last summer. A green jacket is the ultimate status symbol. How can any golf fan dismiss a tour that boasts the reigning Open and Masters champs? It would also end the talking point that LIV events are not quote unquote real competitions—winning two of them is how Koepka steeled himself for the Masters! Yes, Greg Norman’s inevitable gloating would grate, but LIV planting its flag at Augusta National would undeniably be a big deal.

1. Mickelson roars to his fourth Masters win, tying Arnold Palmer. This is probably the most logical outcome to a wholly unpredictable Masters. Phil the Thrill is nine strokes off the lead but only two shots out of third place. If he can summon some vintage magic, the crowd will be on his side; this is the first time since his LIV dalliance that Mickelson has looked like his old, jaunty self, and the week has served as a nice reminder how much more fun golf is when he is on the leaderboard. Koepka’s robotic excellence and uncooperative weather have made this an unexciting Masters. Another Mickelson win for the ages would change that forever.

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