Now, I don’t like to pick favorites. All four major tournaments are equally as exciting year in, year out. But, it’s difficult to say that The Masters isn’t the cream of the crop.
Just look at this place.
From tee to green, Augusta National Golf Club is majestic. The fact that The Masters is always held here is definitely one of the reasons it makes the tournament so special.
So, what does this storied tournament have in store for us this week? It’s impossible to predict moments such as the Bubba Watson recovery on 10 in the 2012 playoff, or Tiger’s chip-in on the 16th in 2005, but you can try to predict who will be in the position to make such shots down the stretch.
So, I’ll give it a go.
I’ll start with my favorite, who is just so hard to pick against when looking at his recent success at Augusta. In 2014 he tied for 2nd, and won it all last year. Yes, Jordan Spieth is my favorite to throw on the green jacket this sunday. Not all that surprising, even though he is now the #2 in the world, behind the Australian Jason Day. Spieth has had a rough go for the better part of 2016, but has picked it up as of late. He was eliminated in the round of 16 two weeks ago at the WGC-Dell Match Play after having a great three days leading up to the weekend, winning all three group stage matches in convincing fashion. A T13 finish in the Shell Houston Open this past weekend isn’t something to throw a party over, but it showed us what he is capable of doing. That is making putts from 20ft out, and getting into contention on Sunday by birdieing 5 of the first 6 holes. Should prove to be a good little tune-up tournament going into the big one.
My dark horse vying for his second major is Louis Oosthuizen, the South African and the world #16 player. Not only has he won a major already (2010 Open Championship), but he’s been in contention at The Masters once before. That was in 2012 when he lost in a two-hole playoff to Bubba Waston. Louis has also had a pretty good year despite not having won a tournament yet, tying for 7th at the Valspar Championship and coming in second to Jason Day at the WGC-Dell Match Play. It’s worth noting that he went 3-0 in the group stage and eventually knocked off Jordan Spieth in the round of 16.
I won’t give him a great shot to win the whole tournament, but watch out for amateur Bryson Dechambeau. He got the invitation from Augusta National after his stellar 2015 season, winning the NCAA Men’s Individual and the U.S. Amateur. Dechambeau dubs himself as a golf scientist, who takes the emotions out of his game. If he really can do that, then it should just be another 4 rounds of golf. What’s so intriguing about Dechambeau is that he uses an unconventional swing, with clubs that are all the same height and length that only vary in loft degree. His thinking is that he can perfect one swing that doesn’t differ from his 3-iron to his 58-degree wedge, all in order to simplify the game.
There are definitely notables missing from this short list, including two-time champions Phil Mickleson and Bubba Watson. Then, there’s the world #1, #3, #4 in Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, and Rickie Fowler. Day has been hot, winning both of his last two starts, but he’s been battling back pain and an illness just last week. He might be playing his best golf right now but, his back is always a slice away from going out again. Rory McIlroy has only been in contention in a couple tournaments this year and has been brutal with the putter. Finally, Rickie Fowler has a win all the way back in November and hasn’t had it early on in tournaments which have lead him to having to climb back on Saturdays and Sundays to where he just runs out of holes.
Then again, this is golf and anyone who brings it for four rounds come Thursday could walk away with it. Maybe even Jim Herman.
Either way, it’s Masters week baby.