2017 Masters Tournament swings into spring

Spain’s Sergio Garcia Fernandez celebrates his victory by holding up his Masters trophy at the green jacket ceremony after the tournament on Sunday April 9 in Augusta Georgia. Golf fans anticipate the spring season as it allows for the most skilled golfers to show why they are the best. (Sergio Garcia/AP Photo)

The long winter has come and passed. The grass is green and the azaleas are blooming. Spring is here and with it comes the first major golf tournament of the year and golf’s greatest tradition: the Masters Tournament. 

This tournament culminates every year after months of anticipation and suffering through chilly weather. For that reason, it is much more than a golf tournament—it is an opportunity to celebrate the game’s rich past and bright future. 

The weekend was off to a rickety start, given that for the first time in its 50-year history, the par 3 tournament at Augusta National was cancelled due to weather. This was, however, a small inconvenience compared to the glaring absence at this year’s Masters. 

This was the first time since 1954 that the tournament was played without the presence of Arnold Palmer given his death in 2016. Play is usually kicked off with a ceremonial tee shot from Palmer, as well as past champions Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. 

There was one less shot this year echoing off the Georgia pines on the first tee. Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne gave a heartfelt speech, as followed by a moment of silence for the “King.” 

The weather was the story of the first and second round on Thursday April 6 and Friday April 7, with high winds and cold temperatures causing some high scores. Charley Hoffman found a way to battle the elements and come away with a four-shot lead after Thursday April 6—the largest lead after the first round since 1955. 

Saturday April 8 and Sunday April 9 were different stories. The weather reports for the final two rounds were summed up by one word—perfect. The sun was shining, the flags laid still and it was the slice of heaven typical of the Augusta National that we all know and love. It was time for the players to golf, and by the final round on Sunday April 9, the leader board was star studded.

The final round ended with a tie between Spaniard Sergio García Fernández—who many consider the best active player never to win a major—and 2013 U.S. Open champion Englishman Justin Rose. 

This tie led to a sudden death one-hole playoff between the two. García striped his drive down the middle of the fairway and Rose hit his tee shot into the woods, forcing him to punch out to García’s feet. With a one-shot advantage on the hole, García hit yet another clutch approach shot to the green and knocked down his birdie putt to win the green jacket and his first Masters Tournament. 

The Masters is a tradition unlike any other. It is more than golf. To many players and fans alike, it is the favored tournament of the year. From the champions’ dinner to the pimento cheese sandwiches to the esteemed green jackets, it transcends golf. 

It is not simply a welcome to the golf season. It is a welcome to spring and a celebration of a beautiful game.