After all, as they say, the tournament doesn't start until Amen corner on Sunday afternoon.
To have the two hottest players on the planet, barely household names, competing against each other was a real treat. Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith went out in the last group and looked like the green jacket was going to be adorned by one of them. When I say “hot”, Scottie, has had a recent meteoric rise to world number one through winning three out of the last five events he has competed in, and now has his first Major to add to an already impressive years’ worth of work. And it's only April.
On the other side of the ring was Smith, whose season so far includes a win in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The Players Championship. As a result of The Masters final standings last week, Scheffler now leads the FedEx rankings with Smith in second place.
Smith’s 68 on Thursday was a remarkable feat in its own right, as he started and finished with double bogeys and managed to cram in eight birdies in 12 holes in the middle. What was even more impressive was the fact that he really seems to have ice in his veins. Nothing seems to bother him…
Until he came to the iconic 12 hole. Everybody who watches The Masters knows you hit the ball over the bunkers, stay safe and get onto 13 where there's a birdie opportunity. Norman, Spieth and most recently Mollinari have wandered right of those bunkers in the lead and not only lost the lead, some might say lost their career’s momentum. Now Smith says that he wasn't going for the pin, and it was just a very bad swing at the worst possible time. When the camera was behind him and his alignment was there for all to see, I remember remarking, ‘I can't believe he's going for the pin!’
Just too much
Even though statistically he is the best iron player in the game at the moment, it shows that sometimes the hole, or the moment, or both can be just too much for a brilliant player. Smith's triple bogey on the 12th gave Scheffler some much needed space and allowed the crowd’s attention to be focused on a player from Northern Ireland who was gate crashing proceedings.
Rory McIlroy eagled the 13th , to go 7 under for his round, leaving an eagle chance at 15 and then who knows or dared to dream - was this going to be the chance for Rory to win his Career Grand Slam? Everything appeared to be tamely ending, until his bunker shot on 18. To see the ball go in the hole at right angles, his joyful reaction, the crowds elation we did for a minute wonder was that enough to spook Scheffler? Was it enough for him to have a moment of clarity and realise that he was on the verge of winning his first Major?
But Scheffler wasn't shaken, he managed to carry a five shot lead up the 18th. I think the four putt double bogey on the last green can be put down to him lowering his guard and losing a little bit of concentration than down to nerves.
I don't think Cameron Smith is going to have his career stalled by too much due to the mistake on 12, he's just too good with his irons and putter. It certainly isn't the last we're going to see of Scheffler. Is Rory now ready to reclaim his form of 10 years ago?
Oh, and Tiger played, made the cut and has committed to playing his favourite course in the summer, St. Andrews for the 150th Open Championship.
The season may just have started, but my goodness it’s off to a great start.