Woods Will Be There But is He My Pick?

 

 

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker

Don't be surprised to see Woods and Stricker in the final pairing on Sunday.

If it seems like deja’ vu all over again there is a reason. Once again, we are headed into the Masters’ Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia with a very familiar feeling that we haven’t experienced in some time. Do you remember when every single year from the mid-1990’s through 2009 Tiger Woods was the overwhelming favorite to win?

That feeling has returned as the top golfers in the world tee it up today from the beautiful surroundings of Augusta National Golf Club.

Woods returned to his ‘rightful’ spot at the top of the World Golf Rankings earlier this year with three wins including Arnold Palmer’s Invitational in Florida. As is usually the case following a Tiger win over the last three years, the question that always come up is “Is Tiger back?” For me it is really quite simple. When Woods wins a major tournament then I will join the chorus of “Yes he is” but not until then.

Choosing the winner of the Masters is never easy but it is easier than you might think for a couple of reasons. First, there really are only a handful of guys that can win simply because of the pressure and the way the golf course is laid out. It isn’t a course like a British or US Open course that requires tremendous creativity, but it does have greens that demand discipline and patience.

The rough is not ridiculous but keeping it in the fairway is paramount because angles into the greens are extremely important in order to score. The guy who consistently keeps his irons dialed in and keep his cool on and around the greens will pull on the green jacket.

Our friends at Bovada are providing the odds for this year’s Masters favorites and I’m adding my thoughts to them.

Tiger Woods 7/2 – Woods seems as happy and content with his life right now and that usually spells doom for the competition, but players don’t fear him like they once did. Clearly the favorite, he is vulnerable.

 

Phil Mickelson
Does Lefty have another green jacket in him?

Phil Mickelson 12/1 – It took Lefty 12 years before he won his first green jacket but he’s added a few more to his closet since then. If you think Mickelson will drive the ball well this week then he’s your pick because you know he has the short game.

Rory McIlroy 12/1 – McIlroy will play better than he has most of the season but the switch in equipment is still a work in progress. A win here? No, but I see a top 15 finish.

Justin Rose 20/1 – With top 5 finishes in all four majors it would seem Rose is due and he may well be. I like his maturity and his game is more well-rounded now.

Dustin Johnson 22/1 – Johnson’s best career finish in Augusta is just 30th despite having top 10 finishes in the other three majors. I like his game but he has to prove he can do it in this tournament before I can pick him to win.

Keegan Bradley 22/1 – Another guy many experts like this week, Bradley does have the major win at the 2011 PGA Championship, but his best finishes at the Masters, US Open and British Open are 27th, 68 th and 34th respectively. I don’t see it happening this week either.

Former Champs to Consider…. Bubba Watson (33/1), Charl Schwartzel (25/1), Angel Cabrera (80/1) and Fred Couples (150/1)

My Pick: At 50/1, Steve Stricker is my choice. It’s too easy to pick Woods and personally, I don’t think the consistency is there in his game that is demanded by Augusta National. Stricker has top tens in all four majors and putts very well. This would not only be a great story and a very popular winner, it would be a great continuation to a dominate season by American golfers so far in 2013.

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