Before we preview the Masters, let’s remember our Annual Master’s Check-List:
- At least one newcomer will “show up” or lead over the first three days, before fading on Sunday.
- At least one newcomer will be talked about, hyped and interviewed in the build-up. He will then shank his tee-shot on the 1st on Thursday. And his tournament will go downhill from there.
- At least one beloved veteran of the game will have a great Thursday, inspiring headlines like “Could he make history!?”, only to miss the cut after shooting an 81 on Friday.
- Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne will make a preachy speech about something important to him and few other people.
- The phrase “Amen Corner” will be mentioned 5,000 times from Thursday through Saturday and 17,235 times on Sunday alone. People at home will scream at the TV “Stop talkin’ ‘bout Amen Corner, it’s not that big a deal!”
- The tournament will be decided on day 4 at Amen Corner. Because it’s that big a deal.
Now, who will win it? Let’s see:
Well, a couple of years ago Tiger Woods was in serious danger of having the Advertising Standards people knocking on his door, demanding that he change his forename to something like Helpless Kitty. In 2013, however, Tiger has been burning brighter than that tiger in the William Blake poem. (The poem starts “Tiger, Tiger. Burning bright…”, for those of you who didn’t get the reference. It’s one of the few things the Golf Drill Guru remembers from English class.)
Tiger is the favourite for the Masters with every bookie, to the extent that some are getting more bets on who will finish second. The “Favourite” tag is entirely justified. Tiger is on form, playing like…eh, Tiger Woods and he’s in a stable relationship now with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. I was going to make a skier joke here. Umm…no, there aren’t any.
Anyway, Tiger looks happy. And, he loves Augusta.
As for Rory McIlroy’s chances…hmm, he’s certainly played better of late after a dreadful start to 2013. But don’t expect to see him in a Green Jacket come Sunday, unless he can paint some “Swishes” onto his old clubs, because Rory still seems on something of a learning curve with his new ones. McIlroy is playing in the Texas Open this weekend, probably to iron out some problems. He’s probably left it too late though. “Margin of error” is not in the Augusta vocabulary.
The fact that Padraig Harrington is leading the Texas Open as we speak is encouraging. The fact that he feels the need to play a week before the Masters is not. In fact, just go online and look at who’s playing in the Texas Open and count them all out. Their game will be better next weekend, but not by much.
“Oh my Love’s like a red, red Rose…” (OK, enough poetry) Justin “Red Red” Rose would seem to have a decent chance for a good run at the Masters. Finishing in the top 10 one year at The Masters often proves a good omen for the next, although Rose’s professional career has been full of good omens with less success. Suffice to say, the words “Justin Rose is a potential Major winner” become sadder with every passing second. Nobody would begrudge the popular Rose a win, so perhaps now is the time.
Adam Scott will be in a great rush to take down a major before the long-putter ban means he has to leave golf and start a career playing Curling. Or maybe he’ll become a janitor. In any case, the Australian is in good form and his style of play should suit Augusta. Expect him to be there or thereabouts.
Phil Mickelson has been keeping quiet of late, which is always good. However, when he’s this quiet, he is usually just about to wins things. So, expect to see Phil in green on Sunday. And then, expect him to open his mouth and say things. Grr!
One outsider you might see on the leaderboard is Henrik Stensson. Why? Because he ranks Number 1 in terms of Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation Percentage, great abilities to have on the unforgiving Augusta course.
“But stats don’t win Masters, Drill Guru!” Yes, I said expect to see him on the leaderboard, not in a green jacket.
Also, keep an eye on Matteo Manassero. He’s the 19-year-old Italian kid everybody is talking about. Expect flashes of brilliance before Augusta has its wicked way with him and sends him home crying.
Looking forward to it! Enjoy!