2016 Masters Through Kiwi Goggles

We shall not sleep on Danny Lee no more.

We shall not sleep on Danny Lee no more.

There's nothing quite like a Monday morning watching the final round of the Masters right? Tip #43 in the casual sports fan's Guide To Being A Casual Sports Fan is that you only have to watch the final round of the Masters, especially if you've done a little research and know that you're going to witness a legend emerge or some epic drama at Augusta.

Yesterday, coffee in hand and with my Diary Of A Warriors Fan column half-written I enjoyed the ride of a final round at the Masters. I missed Danny Lee, our very own Korean-kiwi which was a bummer, just as his slide from a great first round to finish tied for 17th was a bummer, however we can't sleep on the fact that a dramatic 2016 Masters event also included a kiwi golfer doing well. While middle-aged men around the world found their arousal levels soaring through the roof as Jordan Spieth showcased his golfing wizardry, I was content with Lee's presence in the top-20 at such a legendary event.

Ponder to yourself whether Lee has achieved more than Steven Adams, discuss with your homies who is better is their respective careers. Then laugh, laugh because us kiwis are sitting smug, safe in the knowledge that our sporting reach continues to grow and we're not serving up battlers, we're serving up athletes who are near the top of their sport, who are contributing to their team. Throw in Lydia Ko and any other kiwi athletes in your favourite sport and rejoice, be proud of the fact that such athletes blossom from Aotearoa.

Perhaps more importantly though, are the personalities of these athletes and Lee fits that mould perfectly. The PGA Masters leaderboard had Lee being Korean and shout out to Korea because they've gifted us with Lee and Ko, however Lee's sense of humour, his funky nature is definitely all kiwi. While Aotearoa is producing very good athletes, all our athletes are great people as well and they represent Aotearoa as best they can, with a sense of humour and a down to Earth nature.

After turning pro in 2009, I'd zoned out on Lee as he wasn't really making any big moves but we've seen Lee enjoy a resurgence of late and he's enjoyed a consistent presence on the PGA Tour. Lee is still outside the PGA's upper echelon and is ranked 61st in the FedEx Cup standings, what gets me excited though is that Lee has been a constant presence in the final rounds of his 13 PGA Tour events this year having only missed two cuts. Lee managed a 4th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open back in February and has finished better than par in eight of those 13 events. 

17th at the Masters ain't nothing to scoff at and I'm excited to see where Lee goes from here as he's clearly capable of mixing it up with the best golfers in the world, especially as his Masters performance came just after he switched caddies. You'd have to assume that Lee will enjoy a cheeky confidence boost after that effort at the Augusta National and Lee now heads to South Carolina where he'll play the RBC Heritage event which gets underway overnight Thursday.

In keeping with the kiwi tinge, as I watched Spieth implode, gifting Englishman Dan Willett the Green Jacket, I thought of Lydia Ko. Ko and Spieth share many similarities in that they are the youngsters leading men's and women's golf, these two are the new faces of golf and have given golf (along with Lee, he's pretty cool) an injection of youthful funk. They are both as cool as they are amazing at whacking a little ball around, yet Spieth did implode, could our dearest Lydia implode like that?

It'd be very dumb to say no, no Lydia Ko will never ever relinquish a lead like Spieth did. There's always a chance that Ko will fall victim to whatever curse or bad karma Spieth suffered from and the fact that we were all stunned that Spieth did implode shows you how easily this can happen in golf. 

We don't want this to happen to Lydia  (we don't want this to happen to any golfer ... maybe those Aussies) but given that Lydia is only 18 and has a long career ahead of her, I'm taking the chances of this happening to Lydia. As cool as Lydia is, as composed and talented as she is, something like this will probably happen to her in a big event and I'm a bit confused as to whether this will be good or bad.

Spieth will learn from this, he'll get better and he'll kick on to continue to lead men's golf.

If/when Ko suffers such rotten luck, she will also learn as the best athletes do and she'll be better for it, but right now, picturing Lydia Ko doing what Spieth did on that back-9 at Augusta is extremely difficult. I mean, I'm struggling to even imagine how Lydia would react to that. It would be fun to see her bring the ruckus, perhaps throw a club, at least let out some verbal anguish, then again that's simply not Lydia is it? Lydia has ice running through her veins, despite her warm nature and I can only see Lydia getting on with the job, copping it on the chin just like Spieth did.

And by the way, golf is fun. On the women's side of things we have Ko and that's enough for me to buy a family pass on the women's golf bandwagon, there's also many very good female golfers who pose a threat to Ko's dominance. It's the same in the men's game as Spieth is the leader of the pack while guys like Rory McIlroy, Jason Day etc are all in close pursuit, along with Danny Lee who is fun to follow himself. 

Bring on the next LPGA and PGA event, I never really thought I'd say that.