So for those of us in the northern part of the country, it is the Official Start of the Golf Season. No, not because we have actually played or had the opportunity yet, but because it’s Masters Week. CBSSports Host Jim Nantz called this Masters one of the most “Anticipated” in history because of the big names that are not only playing well, but because of the return of Tiger. I have to agree with him especially when you look at all the recent winners and the favorites coming into the week. Lets take a closer look.
- Jordan Spieth 11-1
- Rory McIllroy 11-1
- Justin Thomas 11-1
- Dustin Johnson 12-1
- Tiger Woods. 14-1
- Justin Rose 14-1
- Bubba Watson. 18-1
- Phil Mickelson. 20-1
- Paul Casey. 25-1
- Jon Rham. 25-1
- Ricki Fowler. 28-1
- Sergio Garcia. 33-1
There are other big names lurking which makes this field one of the most dangerous in the History of Golf. Then there is Ian Poulter, who was destroyed two weeks ago in match play… a tourney he needed to play well to get into the Masters. Two weeks later, he redeems himself with a win to get him in.
But regardless who or what story you’re rooting for, Tiger Woods has once again become the biggest story in the sport. “I’m just there to win.” Was a quote in a recent interview posted on his website Tigerwoods.com and Although that is every players goal, Tiger will likely not win this week. But he has played better since returning and his experience on this course is important.
Phil Mickelson is another guy with not only years of experience but also a tour win this season. Take a look at his results just in the last couple of months. T-5th at Waste Management Phoenix Open, T-2nd at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am,T-6th at Genesis Open,1st at WGC-Mexico Championship,T-17th at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, T-24th at Houston Open and last week he finished tied for 24th. Nearing 50, Phil is still a fixture in the top 10 and has won the Masters twice. I like his game right Now and although his odds are worse than Tiger’s, I believe his chances are much higher.
Then there is Jordan Spieth who is once again raining in putts from nearly everywhere. Spieth tied for 3rd at the Houston Open and by all accounts has his game back on track.
Justin Thomas is on fire and is searching for his first green jacket, this being his third start. Justin is the reigning PGA Tour player of the year and as mentioned, has continued that great play with a tremendous start to his season. Thomas has 2 wins, a second place and 5 top tens. For the young players without a green jacket, This could be his year…
Bubba Watson is playing his better as of late including a Match Play Championship win two weeks ago. Watson is also a two-time Masters winner with a game that most think is not built for this course. But it has not stopped Watson as he loves this track and if he is keeping the ball out of trouble and can convert some putts, he will once again contend.
Sergio is the defending champion and is another player that is having a good season. Though I am calling it now, he will not repeat. There are too many BETTER players that are playing at a higher level.
Dustin Johnson, former World #1 got his first win of the season as soon as the Calender flipped to 2018, He followed that up with a 2nd place finish at Pebble Beach in February. Since then, in only a few starts he has finished in the top 20 but has not really contended for a win. Johnson is a guy that could win because of his length and accuracy off the tee.
Justin Rose and Paul Casey are two players that have games that can win at Augusta and are also searching for their first Green Jackets. Rose has 5 top ten finishes including a win at the WGC. Casey has 3 top ten finishes and also had a win this season at the Valspar Championship. Rory is a guy that when he is at his best, can win anywhere. I just don’t think this week will be his week.
Year in an out, the Masters has an amazing field of players but what makes this year so unique is having all these players playing at such a high level. It starts Thursday, and this is how I see it playing out.
I believe it will be a former Champion…. but not Sergio. The players that drive the ball well this week I believe will be at or near the top. You may say… “go figure captain obvious!” But there are reasons behind this. I have been watching the weather for the past 10 days or so leading up to the tournament and although I have seen fluctuations in predictions, for the most part it is shaping up to be cool and damp. The first two days of the tournament look to be the nicest with temps in the 60’s and 70’s and sunny so look for low numbers both of those days. As for the weekend, for now it looks like 50’s and rain. Rain lengthens this course something fierce which plays to the players that are long and straight. Obviously Putting is important, but those that put themselves in position to make birdies more often have an upper hand. Then there is the Tiger.
Tiger Woods will make the cut and will keep it close so the fans will hang on to hope of him getting another major but…. in the end will not win. He has 4 wins at Augusta which leads all active players. In his last outing he finished in the top 5, but when he had the opportunity to make a move on the back nine he couldn’t. I just don’t think his game is back to that point. I believe Phil will contend to a point where we may see him leading into the final handful of holes. Mickelson has 3 wins at the Masters. If the weather holds the way it looks, Spieth can putt his way to a Championship but cool and wet does not play to his strengths on a long course. Then there is Bubba… nope not this week.
Phil Mickelson in the end will outlast everyone as I think his putter will be good enough. What a week this looks to be, and what a week it could be. Then again…. you just never know.