5 wild ways this Masters could end | Monday Finish

What happens if Phil Mickelson contends again at the Masters?

What happens if Phil Mickelson contends again at the Masters?

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Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re flying towards Atlanta, the man in the middle seat has had a self-reported “19 vodka-sodas” and he’s wondering if I’ll be “typing the entire flight.” So let’s keep this snappy!


The little things.

Last week I wrote in this space about Nelly Korda‘s post-win road snacks. In-N-Out after her win in California. A special almond croissant after her win in Arizona. And then, after this weekend’s stroke-play-slash-match-play win at Shadow Creek, she’s won four times in a row.

What’d she have planned post-win this time? Korda laid out her vision.

“Oh, my gosh, so I went to Paris Baguette,” she said. “I got so much stuff. For the whole team and I — not just for me, okay. Then I think we’re going to get In-N-Out burger and Five Guys fries. Yeah, great combination. I feel like that’s just an elite combination. It’s just like, I don’t drink, so I’m just carb-loading.”

That’s a pretty damning indictment of In-N-Out’s fries (so disappointing they require a trip to an entirely separate establishment?!), but otherwise sounds pretty dreamy. Combine that attention to detail with Korda’s stated excitement for a week at home (“just sleeping in my own bed”), and it’s clear that she appreciates the little things. In a sport where the tiniest things add up, one by one, that’s a useful trait to have.


Who won the week?

Akshay Bhatia won the Valero Texas Open and earned a last-minute Masters berth despite a strange 72-hole celebratory shoulder injury and a hard-charging Denny McCarthy. McCarthy did everything but win, too (see tweet below), but that playoff-hole chunk was tough to watch. Rory McIlroy didn’t win — he was nine shots off the pace, to be clear — but his final-round 66 earned him a bronze medal and some solid momentum heading to the biggest week of his year.

Korda played a clutch round on Friday of the T-Mobile Match Play to catapult herself inside of the top eight, then whizzed through the quarters and semis and then quickly jumped out to a 4-up finals lead over Leona Maguire — who was the stroke-play medalist and match-play runner-up for an overall top-notch week.

Lottie Woad won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, outdueling Bailey Shoemaker thanks to back-nine heroics that included birdies at 15, 17 and 18. Shoemaker’s tournament record-breaking 66 earned her plenty of respect, too.

Dean Burmester won LIV’s Miami event in a playoff over Sergio Garcia. Matthew Wolff finished one shot back, as potential Masters’ contenders Jon Rahm (T4), Tyrrell Hatton (T4) and Bryson DeChambeau (T7) showed signs of good form, too.

And you won the week, too, because we’ve made it to the Masters. Speaking of which…


5 strange ways this week could end.

It’s easy to be hyped for this year’s Masters. Start of spring. First major of the year. LIV guys and PGA Tour guys clashing on the game’s biggest stage. Scottie Scheffler entering as clear World No. 1. Jon Rahm entering as formidable defending champ. Phil Mickelson returning to the site of last year’s T2. Tiger Woods playing competitive golf. In other words, we know the storylines coming in.

But have we really thought about how it might end? Have we really played out the scenarios? Maybe you have while my simpleton, real-time-only brain has not. But while this week will have massive, life-changing consequences for whoever wins, a few different scenarios feel like they’d change the course of modern golf history. Let’s buzz through five of those.

1. Tiger or Phil contends

Could this happen? Of course it could! Sure, Phil Mickelson has been playing pretty poorly since last year’s Masters, logging just two top-10s in LIV events and losing strokes in the majority of his starts. But do you remember last year’s Masters?! He wasn’t playing well going into that event, either, and then he finished T2 out of spite, determination, muscle memory, Masters magic. It seems unlikely to happen again, but it feels dumb to rule it out completely.

Then there’s Tiger Woods. Like Mickelson, Woods enters the week without any real expectations other than the fact that he’ll tee it up on Thursday. His last three major starts are WD, MC, WD. Recovery hasn’t been easy. A made cut and a healthy gait would feel like a successful week. But is that selling Tiger short? What if he fires up some magic of his own on the five-year anniversary of his last impossible major win?

Don’t get your hopes up; it’s better this way. But another trip to contention would add a meaningful chapter to each of their storied careers.

2. Scottie Scheffler slams the door

I know the oddsmakers have made Scheffler the massive favorite; the World No. 1 is going off at just 4-1 — less than half the odds of any of his competitors. But what if he actually does it? What if he wins by 2, or 4, or 6? That would make Scheffler a two-time Masters champ. That would give him three wins and a second place in his last four starts. That would vault his current run from heater to historic. If Scheffler shoots 67 on Thursday, we’d better get ready to start contextualizing; I’m not sure we’re ready to put this run into proper perspective.

3. A noted first-timer wins

There are a few guys from the list of “Best Player Without a Major” who have won several times on Tour, but would elevate from good to great by picking up a green jacket this week. I’m talking about the likes of Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele. There are younger guys, too, who have come close but haven’t won — guys like Cameron Young and Will Zalatoris. This is a perfectly plausible scenario, but think about what it’ll mean if it happens. The way you’d think about each of ’em would instantly change. It’s a powerful week.

4. Rory wins the grand slam

I grew up a New England Patriots fan. They won Super Bowls in 2001, 2003 and 2004; that was the beginning of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick dynasty. But what people forget is that their next Super Bowl win didn’t come until 2014. Then they won again in 2016 and 2018. Three trophies became six.

The question, then, is whether Rory McIlroy is the New England Patriots of golf. The most recent of his four major wins came in 2014. Here we are in 2024. A major this year wouldn’t just add to his career total — it would validate everything he’s done in the decade since.

5. Brooks Koepka or Jon Rahm gives LIV another

When he won last year’s PGA Championship, Brooks Koepka made it clear the victory wasn’t for LIV Golf — it was for him. Still, a win for one of LIV’s top dogs would feel distinctly different.

Jon Rahm winning a second consecutive Masters would elevate his career profile. But it would also elevate the value of the asset LIV invested in, while the PGA Tour would miss him that much more. Three career majors would level him up to rarefied air. And he’d get to give himself the green jacket, Tiger-style.

Koepka winning a Masters would boost his career total to six, tying him with Mickelson. It would reemphasize that he’s the greatest major champ of the post-Tiger and Phil era. And it would extra-reemphasize that majors are all that matters to him, given he just shot 77-77 on the weekend at LIV Miami to finish T45. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me, because Koepka contends at majors. We know this.


Monday Finish HQ.

I think Seattle has an underrated spring; it can start as early as January and continue for months and there are flowers and birds and (off and on) better weather. But there is nothing like spring in the Southeast. It’s nice to be in Augusta this week.


3 things to watch this week.

1. New putters

Will Zalatoris‘ putter isn’t new, at this point, but this is his first major with the broomstick. Brooks Koepka used a mallet last week. And what was this from Tiger Woods‘ practice round?! (Probably nothing, but still intriguing.)

2. New caddies

It’ll be strange seeing Justin Thomas without Bones Mackay on his bag. It’ll be strange seeing Tiger Woods without Joe LaCava on his bag. It’ll be strange seeing Phil Mickelson without Tim Mickelson on his bag. But they’ll be replaced by Matt Minister, Lance Bennett and Jon Yarbrough. Stay tuned.

3. New shoulder

Here’s looking at you, Akshay.

That’s all for Monday, gang. See you tomorrow!

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.