The golf season is underway, and our first AND favorite major is finally here.
Yes golf fans, its Masters week and this Thursday will mark Augusta’s 76th year. Every person who has ever been to Augusta National, all agree that the place has a true magic feeling. This is how I define the Masters: The worlds best players, play the world’s most pure course, for the worlds most prestige prize, the patented Green Jacket. Most analysts and fans agree that this is the most excited they have been for a golf tournament in a long time because of all the story lines heading into the week.
Like all recent majors (especially the Masters), all eyes are on Tiger Woods. Tiger had his first PGA tour win two weeks ago (Bay Hill), in over two years, so his game seems to be peaking at the right time. Tiger is still chasing Jack’s record of 18 major titles, and you can bet he will be in contention Sunday looking for his 15th major and 5th green jacket.
The second most captivating story of the week is Northern Ireland’s, Rory Mcllroy. Everyone remembers Rory’s final round 80 last year at Augusta after entering Sunday with a 4 shot lead. Everyone also remembers Rory dominating the field at last years U.S. Open, winning by eight shots. Rory has the most talent and potential for a young golfer since Tiger Woods, and everyone would love to see these two create a rivalry and duke it out on Sunday.
Although most people have their attention focused on Tiger and Rory, there are still many players who have a great chance to put on the Green Jacket. Among those players include: Worlds #1 ranked golfer Luke Donald, 3 time Masters Champion Phil Mickelson, and of course, 2011 Master’s Champion, Charl Schwartzel. Although length never hurts at Augusta, if player’s wedges and putting are not on, they do not stand a chance, plain and simple. The Masters truly is a tradition like no other and definitely one of the top 5 sporting events all year long.
Saying all of that, below I will list my top 3 picks, and then my top 3 value picks (players with more generous odds).
Best Masters Picks
Tiger Woods 5/1: Tiger no longer has the burden of not winning in two years on his back, and seems to be playing some of his best golf in a long time. His odds are never friendly, (and often don’t seem fair) but if someone has to sink a 5-footer to win the Masters, whom are you going to pick? You cannot value the importance Tiger Woods has on the game of golf, and there is nothing quite like having him in contention on Sunday at Augusta.
Rory Mcllory 6/1: Everyone is aware Rory is the real deal. I gained a lot of respect for this young man after his back nine collapse on Sunday at last years Masters. Despite blowing a 4 stroke Sunday lead and shooting a +7, 43 on the back nine, Rory still did a post-round interview. This showed me his maturity, class, and respect for the game is far beyond his years. The rest of the season was history because Rory went on to win the U.S open by 8 shots. Look for Rory to bounce back from last years Masters and wouldn’t it be something if him and Tiger were in the final group on Sunday.
Phil Mickelson 10/1: Yes my top 3 picks are probably identical to most you will find, however there is a reason for that. Phil has had a great start to the 2011 season and “lefty’s” game is always so well suited for Augusta with all the “dog-leg” lefts holes the course presents. Phil has only won 3 major championships and they all have came here at Augusta. Besides Tiger, there is no one who is more comfortable at Augusta then Phil.
Adam Scott 30/1: Although no Australian has ever won here at Augusta, I believe if anyone is to do it, its Adam Scott. Adam has not won a major yet but if he is to win one, I can almost guarantee it will be here. Adam was a runner-up here last here and seems to finally be comfortable on the greens with his long-belly putter.
Keegan Bradley 34/1: Keegan is making his Masters Debut, but that does not bother me one bit. Keegan won the last year’s final major (PGA Championship) and his game is incredibly well suited for the course. He hits it high, he hits it long, and he is comfortable around the greens. What I like most about Keegan is his competitive nature, he is a warrior and will continue to hang around despite a bad shot. A quick memory is crucial for golfers (especially in Majors). Watch out for “Keegs” !!
Hunter Mahan 34/1: Hunter had an impressive win last weekend at the Shell Houston Open, and although I do not like taking a guy coming off a win (because it is hard to sustain the momentum) Mahan is just playing to good to ignore. His game sets up well for Augusta and he says that he has the most confidence he has ever had in his PGA Career. Hunter shares the same swing coach as Tiger Woods, (Sean Foley) so I wonder who Sean will be cheering for on Sunday.
Enjoy the 2012 Masters!