Martin Laird 'played well enough tee to green' to be in Masters mix
Sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Just ask Martin Laird. The Scot produced some brilliant golf in his first Masters appearance since 2013 but didn’t get the reward he deserved.
As had been the case most of the week, the 38-year-old Denver-based player split fairways and found lots of greens in regulation with sweetly-struck irons in the closing circuit.
He negotiated 72 holes on this treacherous test without a double-bogey on his cards, yet had to settle for a three-over-par total and a share of 38h spot after a last-day 73.
The highlight of that closing circuit was a birdie from seven feet at the 12th, but, for the fourth day running, he stumbled at the 18th, where finding trees off the tee on the right did the damage this time.
“Right now, I’m very frustrated,” said Laird afterwards. “I hit it great again today but just made no putts all week. Even today, as my caddie (fellow Scot Kevin McAlpine) was saying, I left four or five shots on the greens just on the back nine and four or five yesterday.
“Every round this week it felt as though it was the worst score I could have shot and today that was definitely the case, so it’s a little frustrating right now.”
“But I’ve had an unbelievable week. It’s a fantastic tournament and one you always want to play in. Looking back, I’ll be very pleased with how I played. Tee to green, I played well enough to be in mix. Just hopefully the next time I’m back I can figure out the greens.”
Laird finished two shots ahead of Bryson DeChambeau after the US Open champion closed with a 75 that included an eagle-3 at the 13th but a double-bogey 7 two holes later.
Having failed to get in the mix again, the man who reckoned the par for him here was 67 looks to have a bit of work to do to figure out how to conquer this course.
Paul Casey signed off with six birdies, including four on the spin late on, as he carded a 69. “Frustrating, but there you go,” he said of producing his best effort of the week when he was well out of the reckoning. “Still fun being here, isn't it?”
That sentiment was echoed by a number of players on this occasion due to one of the firm and fastest tests at the Georgia venue for a number of years and totally different to a rain-softened course for the rescheduled 2020 edition in November.
“I think it’s maybe one of the best setups we've seen in years and years, mainly just because Mother Nature has allowed it this week,” said Casey. “Some classic pins and, from Thursday through to today, I've never seen these greens roll this well consistently a week.”
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, finished second in this event in 2012 but has been unable to get back in the mix again since then. “Probably disappointing, I would say,” said the South African of this effort.
“I always look forward to this week. I lprobably came in here the best I'm stroking it. It was the other part of the game that I was struggling with. Hopefully I'm back here next year to try again.”