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The Masters came upon us quickly in 2021, with the previous installment having just ended only five months earlier and without another major championship between them. Dustin Johnson’s time with the green jacket was short, and Hideki Matsuyama lifted up a nation in winning this one.

Here are things we learned over the course of another week at Augusta National.

1. Firmer, faster is better

For the first time in several years, Augusta National offered up the kind of conditions that are favored for major championships. The fairways were running fast, the greens were firm and quick. Both gave the players fits.

While it is fair to say that the greens might have bordered on the edge during the opening round on Thursday, the resulting difficulty led to a far more compelling tournament. Players were on edge, and that’s part of the examination in a major.

Just when it appeared Matsuyama had the tournament firmly in his grasp, he blasted his approach over the green and into the water at the par-5 15th. That would not have happened at the very soft Masters in November. He also made bogey at the 16th, three-putting the green from long distance.

Each day offered an opportunity for someone to shoot a low score. Justin Rose had 65 on Thursday. Matsuyama matched that on Saturday. On Sunday, Jon Rahm, too far back to contend, posted 66. Such conditions require an abundance of precision in order to prevail.

2. More roars, more needed

It was nice to have spectators back at Augusta National after only a smattering of members and guests were allowed in November. At times, there were large pockets of masked gatherings throughout the property. You could hear the cheering at Amen Corner from the clubhouse. Just not enough of it. And not loud enough.

Part of the Masters’ allure is the packed grandstands — there were no structures again, just like in November — as well as rows deep of patrons trying to get a glimpse of the action. The pandemic circumstances necessitated the limited attendance. The hope is it’ll be back to normal in 2022.

3. As the game grows around the world

The Masters and Augusta National are understandably proud of their efforts to grow the game around the world with two amateur events, including the Asia-Pacific Amateur, which began in 2009. Matsuyama won the tournament twice as an amateur, thereby earning a spot in the Masters, which he played for the first time 10 years ago. On Sunday, he became the seventh player to win low-amateur honors at the tournament and go on to win the green jacket. The Masters folks will use his win as a way to help encourage players in Asia and in Latin America — where the Latin America Amateur Championship is played — to take up the game and dream of Matsuyama’s exploits.

4. DeChambeau’s mental work

When Bryson DeChambeau said last fall that he thought Augusta National would play to a par of 67 for him, he clearly did not expect to be finishing in a tie for 46th. He had tied for 34th in the fall. DeChambeau seemed to get on track with a second-round 67, but he opened with 76 and then added 75 and 75 on Saturday and Sunday. His length might be an asset, but he needs a lot more to get competitive here.

“I don’t think you can ever figure this place out,” he said. “There’s so many things going on around here. The wind makes it diabolical. It’s flying around through these trees and bouncing off the trees and making it feel into the wind when it should be downwind, and vice versa. I don’t think you’ll ever be able to figure it out, but I’ve just got to be more comfortable.”

5. Spieth is back

We already knew this. But a strong performance that he even said was far from his best was another indication of the progress Jordan Spieth has made this year. A week after winning the Valero Texas Open, Spieth tied for third at the Masters despite never really being able to keep much momentum going and having a triple bogey on Thursday.

“I wish that I had the control of my swing that I hope is coming or I think is coming soon because it would have made things a little easier this week, and I did strike the ball really well,” said Spieth, who led the field in greens in regulation with 56 out of 72. “I hit a lot of fairways. I put myself in position to hit a lot of greens, and distance control is a strength of mine with iron play. I did a good job of that.

“So all in all, I’ve made a lot of good progress, but I feel like that road ahead is still significant for me. So I’ve got at least a couple weeks off right now where I’ll rest for a while and then regroup and see if I can get — off weeks are where you can make maybe 5% differences.”

6. Schauffele has more lessons to learn

Xander Schauffele said as much after tying for second at the 2019 Masters, a stroke behind Tiger Woods. Undoubtedly it was the same Sunday as he somehow hit it in the water at the 16th hole after making things interesting with four consecutive birdies.

“It’s another lesson to put in the memory bank,” he said. “[In] 2019, I had a rookie hiccup moment of, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m leading the Masters.’ This year I was chasing. I’m playing better than I was in 2019, and I made a mistake on shot selection and wind.”

The triple-bogey 6 was the first triple Schauffele has ever made in any major championship round.

7. Koepka needs more time to heal

You have to give Brooks Koepka credit for making an effort to play the Masters just three weeks after knee surgery. But it never seemed like a good idea. The way he walked around one of the most undulating courses showed the strain he put on his right knee. Koepka missed the cut, and will now likely be off for several weeks to make sure the knee gets better. He probably would have been better off skipping this event, something that is easy to see now.

8. A Rory reset is needed

The thought here had been that Rory McIlroy was not that far off. That bringing in Pete Cowen to help him before the Masters might be a quick fix to help straighten out his game, and that the lower expectations might mean an easy path to contention at the only major he has failed to win. Nope.

McIlroy struggled again and has now missed the cut at the Players Championship and the Masters. It was a disappointing showing for one of the game’s most popular players. It will be interesting to see if he can find his form in time for the PGA Championship next month at Kiawah, where he won the tournament in 2012.

9. Zalatoris doesn’t have status

Consider this: Despite tying for sixth at the U.S. Open and finishing second at the Masters, Will Zalatoris is not a member of the PGA Tour. He is a special temporary member due to his success over the past six months and is assured of earning his PGA Tour card for the 2021-22 season. But as it stands, he is not eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs. You need to be a full member of the PGA Tour for that. Right now, the only way to accomplish that is by winning a tournament. Given his recent form, that appears inevitable.

10. The Masters always delivers

Well, we didn’t really learn that. It has seemingly always been the case. But Zalatoris summed it up nicely and referenced Tiger Woods in the process.

“Everybody watches. Everybody remembers,” he said. “I was laughing with my parents [Saturday] night talking about how I could give you a memory of every single hole. I mentioned that I’ve seen guys for years when the pin is back left on 10, guys missing that putt low. Examples like that.

“But I think has a lot to do with Tiger, a lot of kids getting into the game and a lot of kids watching his success here — especially he won in ’97 and he won in 2019. He’s our trendsetter for the game. I think that’s part of the reason why so many kids come out early, is we saw him be fearless at a young age. So we come out and play fearless. And then on top of that, we were interested in watching the tournament year in, year out.

“And I think that’s something the Masters does so incredibly well is you can watch every single shot of every single player. Even [Sunday] morning I’m sitting around watching guys play the golf course to see how holes are playing. But I think a lot of that has to do with Tiger.”

SOURCE: ESPN

Bob Harig ESPN Senior Writer

M/I Homes plans subdivision on Foxfire Golf Course

Jim Weiker

The Columbus Dispatch

The proposed layout of M/I Homes development on former Foxfire Golf Course, with Rt. 104 on the east, or right side of this image.

M/I Homes is again hitting the links.

For the third time in five years, the Columbus-based homebuilder is turning a golf course into a subdivision.

M/I Homes has bought the former Foxfire Golf Course in Commercial Point with plans to build 416 homes on the 154-acre site. Homeowners in the community, to be called the Homes at Foxfire, will have access to the adjacent Players Club at Foxfire golf course, including its pool, clubhouse and playground.

This is the third time M/I Homes has converted a golf course into a community, following its acquisition of Minerva Lake Golf Club (now M/I’s Village of Minerva Park) and the Riviera Golf Club (now Riviera Regency).

“The pros of working in golf courses is they have really nice topography, landscaping; they’re very open. You can work with the natural beauty and features of the ground,” said Josh Barkan, vice president of land for the Columbus division of M/I Homes. “The other nice thing about Minerva and Riviera and Foxfire is their proximity to services.”

M/I Home's Foxfire community will include its Smart Series of homes similar to those shown here.

M/I plans to offer seven of its “Smart Series” of homes in Foxfire — four two-story models, from 1,800 to 2,600 square feet and three ranch models ranging from 1,600 to 1,900 square feet, said David Balcerzak, vice president of sales and marketing for M/I’s Columbus Division.

“We think we’ll see some empty-nester buyer interest in that area,” Balcerzak said, explaining the ranch plans.

Prices haven’t been set, but Balcerzak said homes are expected to start in the low- to mid-$300,000s.

M/I Home's Foxfire community will include its Smart Series of homes similar to those shown here.

M/I has broken ground on the project, which is in the Teays Valley school district, and hopes to have a model in place by the first of the year with the goal of opening the community in May.

Golf courses have struggled in recent years to attract members, who have more options and less time than they might have during golf’s heyday. In the past few years, several central Ohio courses have been sold or closed.

jweiker@dispatch.com

@JimWeiker

M/I Homes plans to build 416 homes on the site of the former Foxfire golf course.

 

 

 

 

SOURCE: Dispatch

Dustin Johnson wins the Masters with lowest score in tournament history

AUGUSTA, Ga. — In this one-of-a-kind Masters that had no fans and no roars, Dustin Johnson made sure it had no drama.

And when he polished off his five-shot victory Sunday with the lowest score in tournament history, he had no words. Only tears.

Looking smart in the Masters green jacket he dreamed his whole life of winning, Johnson spoke to a small gathering on the putting green in absence of the official ceremony, but only briefly. In control of every aspect of his game on a course that never allows anyone to relax, he couldn’t speak when it was over. Instead, he turned to wipe his eyes.

“I’ve never had this much trouble gathering myself,” Johnson finally said. “On the golf course, I’m pretty good at it.”

No one was better. Not even close.

Johnson overcame a nervous start that conjured memories of past majors he failed to finish off, and then delivered a commanding performance that added his own touch to a Masters unlike any other. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first played in November. It was the first without ropes and without roars because patrons were not allowed — only one guest for each player, coaches, Augusta National members and officials.

Leading by two shots heading into Amen Corner, the world’s No. 1 player got through the 12th hole — where Tiger Woods earlier hit three balls in Rae’s Creek and made 10 — and then ran off three straight birdies to pull away from Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im, the only players who had a chance.

Johnson closed with a 4-under 68 and finished at 20-under 268, breaking by two shots the record set by Woods in 1997 and matched by Jordan Spieth in 2015. He had only four bogeys in 72 holes, another record, this one held by Jack Nicklaus and Jimmy Demaret. He missed only 12 greens all week, a record last set by Woods. All that mattered was that green jacket.

Nothing ever comes easily for Johnson in the majors. Nothing looked so natural as seeing Woods, the defending champion, help him into that size 42 long in Butler Cabin.

“Having Tiger put it on was awesome. You wouldn’t want it any other way,” Johnson said.

And then he smiled before adding, “But any guy could put it on me and I’d be just fine.”

His five-shot victory was the largest at the Masters since Woods won by 12 in 1997. All that was missing were the roars from a crowd for any of his pivotal putts early and his birdie putts on the back nine that put it away. It wasn’t the loneliest walk up the hill to the 18th green. About 250 people offered warm applause, and partner Paulina Gretzky rushed onto the green to celebrate with Johnson and his brother, caddie Austin Johnson.

Johnson now has two majors to go along with his 25 victories worldwide, a combination that validates him as one of the greats of his generation. Gone are the doubts that he could hold a lead in the major on the final day. Four times he had gone into the final round with at least a share of the lead without winning.

Johnson had questions, too. His only major was the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 2016 when he rallied from four shots behind.

“I’m sure a lot of you all think … there were doubts in my mind, just because I had been there. I’m in this position a lot of times,” Johnson said. “When am I going to have the lead and finishing off a major? It definitely proved that I can do it.”

There were some nervous moments early.

Johnson’s four-shot lead was reduced to one after five holes, and then he quickly restored control with an 8-iron to 6 feet on the top shelf on the right corner of the green at the par-3 sixth for birdie. That restored his lead to three shots when Im missed a 3-foot par putt.

Smith was the only one who was closer than two the rest of the way. He got quite the consolation. He became the first player in Masters history to post all four rounds in the 60s, and all it got him was a silver medal.

“I thought I’d have a decent shot if I got to Dustin’s original score at the start of the day, 16 under,” Smith said. “I knew I had to put the pressure on early. Got out of the gates pretty good, and DJ was just too good at the end.”

Johnson became the 12th Masters champion never to trail after any round, and his closing 68 broke another record held by Woods — it was his 11th consecutive subpar round at Augusta National.

No one had a better finish than Woods, but only after the five-time Masters champion posted the highest score of his career on the 12th hole. He finished with five birdies over the last six holes to salvage a 76.

The betting favorite and biggest basher in golf, Bryson DeChambeau, couldn’t even beat 63-year-old Bernhard Langer, who shot 71 and wound up one shot ahead of the U.S. Open champion.

These were only sideshows on a quiet Sunday at Augusta National. Johnson, the first No. 1 player in the world to win the Masters since Woods in 2002, was the main event. But even a record score, and the widest margin of victory since 1997, didn’t mean it was easy.

This is Johnson, after all, who for all his talent has dealt with more than his share of misfortune, not all his own doing.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” he said.

After the big turning point at No. 6, and his nifty par save from a bunker on the seventh, Johnson didn’t bother looking at a leaderboard until his brother asked if he knew where he stood on the 18th green. Johnson knew only that he was in control and it was up to everyone else to catch him.

“I took what the course gave me and hit the shots I felt I could hit,” he said.

And so ended the Masters in November, so strange in so many ways. No roars from Amen Corner. Soft conditions — not only from rain that delayed the start, but an autumn date that affected the grass — led to record scoring. The average score for the week was 71.75, the lowest ever, breaking the record from last year.

Gone were the white and pink blooms of azaleas and dogwoods, replaced by autumn hues of brown and gold. The Masters, though, in any month is defined by green. And the jacket fit Johnson well.

SOURCE: ESPN