If you listen to the pundits, this Master’s is almost anybody’s to win and I’d have to agree. There are plenty of favorites but everyone seems to have a question mark to a part of their game.
We all know Tiger is out and that leaves a big gap to fill. None of the best golfers in the world has had a particularly great start to the year. Two guys at the top, Zach Johnson and Jason Day have won, but those were early in the year. Maybe they’ve been saving themselves for the Masters. Most pros would agree that it marks the beginning of the heart of the professional season.
Jimmy Walker has already won 3x this year and Patrick Reed 2x, but they aren’t guys you would think are ready to go to Augusta and win. It’s a course that the pros say takes years to learn how to play. I feel they are much more likely to contend in one of the other majors, particularly the US Open or PGA Championship.
Then there are a lot of top players who haven’t found their form yet. Some have been battling injuries as well. Of course, they could get it together at the Masters, but is it likely. In that group I’d put Henrik Stenson, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, and Justin Rose.
There’s a raft of players who have proven how good they are, but just don’t seem to have game enough at this point. Maybe it’s too early in the season or maybe they’ve been ailing and we just don’t know it. Here, I’d include Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Gary Woodland, Web Simpson and Martin Kaymer.
Let’s not forget the young guns who can play, but will they find the emotion and inspiration, enough to motivate them but not so much that they loose the focus you have to have to win the Masters. This group includes Jordan Spieth, Graham DeLaet, Harris English, Rickie Fowler, and Bill Haas.
What’s left is an interesting group of consistent grinders and wild cards who can play great or just disappear. This includes Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Angel Cabrera, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk.
Lastly you have the old guys who might get us excited for 2 to 2 1/2 days but will likely break out hearts on Saturday afternoon or Sunday, guys like Fred Couples and Ernie Els. This might be the year that Phil joins this group, but as everyone knows, something magical always seems to happen to Phil once he’s in sight of Magnolia Lane.
I broke up all these golfers and a few more into a pool of 4 groups of 12. A group of us have a friendly wager based on picking one from each group and adding up their winnings at the end of the Masters. The person whose group earns the most money takes home the prize.
So here are my picks; Group 1 – Jason Day, Group 2 – Justin Rose, Group 3 – Steve Stricker, and Group 4 – Jamie Donaldson. It really hurt me to pick Justin Rose over Angel Cabrera who’s one of the best golfers in the world when the stakes are high and the course is tough.
I was happy to see Adam Scott win last year, but I was pulling for Angel. The man is fearless the way Gary Player was. There are 2 guys who grew up in tough circumstances that give them the perspective that golf is a fun game compared to what everyday life can be so why not ‘go for it’.
Bottom line; I have no idea whose going to win. I’ve got favorites and guesses but to me this Masters is as wide open as any in the last 20 years. Maybe it’s because there are so many very good golfers on Tour these days.