Things To Watch For At This Year’s Masters

If you’re as sick as I am with all of the hoopla over You-Know-Who, here are a few others to watch this year:

Ernie Els: The Big Easy has had a terrific spring. He could cap it off with a Green Jacket and be three quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam.

Fred Couples: Like Els, he’s had an unusually good spring—albeit on the Senior Tour. If anyone can contend at 50, it’s Freddie. He already has one Green Jacket (1992), but over the past 10 Masters, has gone T27, T11, 26, T36, T28, T6, T39, T3, T30, CUT, CUT.

Kenny Perry: How will he deal with all the might-have-beens from last year’s near miss? He hasn’t played well this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him actually miss the cut.

Anthony Kim: He had a big week at the Shell Houston Open. But the conventional wisdom says that winning the week before a Major jinxes you.

Steve Stricker: Steve has been the most consistent player in golf over the last couple of years. But his record at the Masters is just dismal: Cut, Cut, T38, T19, T10, Cut, Cut, Cut, T6. And that’s not to mention eight missed invitations.

Phil Mickelson: Lefty still is looking to get his game on track. This was supposed to be his big year. So far, not so much. But a win at the Masters could be the cure.

Rory McIlroy and Ricky Barnes: The next big things each are playing in the second Masters. McIlroy finished 20 last year. Barnes was low amateur at 21st in 2003. They just might have a chance.

Sergio Garcia: Still waiting for his big win. And he’ll still be waiting after this week.

And there are some interesting matchups:

Experience vs Youth:

We’re still waiting on that youth movement that you-know-who was supposed to inspire. The results at the Masters are skewed because Woody has won so many recently, but of the remainder, none could be called “young.” The youngest at the time of their win: Trevor Immelman, born in 1979; and Zach Johnson in 1976. This year’s “sensations” are Rory McIlroy and Ricky Barnes.

In the meantime, the roster seems stocked with older players who still have game: Mickelson, Stricker, Harrington, Els, Toms and more. Incredibly, there’s even the sixty year old Watson who showed at last year’s Open Championship that he’s more than capable of contenting in a Major.

Hmm. Sergio is 30 this year. No longer a “young gun.” He might have better luck in the “older guys” category.

Americans vs Internationals:

In many ways, it seems that the strongest players this year have been the Internationals: Els, Poulter and Ogilvy all have had marquee wins on the PGA Tour this season. The World Top 20 features thirteen international players. Seven of the top ten currently are Internationals—and three of those are Englishmen: Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, and Ian Poulter. By the numbers, this could be Brittania’s year.

On the other hand Americans You-Know-Who and Phil Mickelson are proven winners at Augusta. Number two Steve Stricker is due. Number five Jim Furyk is putting well, and number 14 Anthony Kim is coming off a very good performance at Houston.

My bet is on an International.

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5 thoughts on “Things To Watch For At This Year’s Masters”

  1. No discussion of Angel Cabrera?  He’s the defending champ and has multiple majors.  I don’t see how you could possibly, possibly consider Ricky Barnes as a contender who hasn’t done squat in his career and not mention a future Hall of Famer in this post.  El Pato needs more love…

    Reply
  2. No love for local boy Stewart Cink? The bookies sure don’t have any, he’s 80/1 to win on BoDog. Here are his last 5 Master’s results:

    2005 T20
    2006 10
    2007 T17
    2008 T3
    2009 CUT

    Apart from last year, that’s a pretty solid five year run.

    —-

    I agree Sergio can’t handle the greens here. This is definitely more of a short-game course than others (Johnny Miller calls the Master’s the “Augusta National Annual Putting Contest”). I still expect him to win a US or British Open at some point.

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    For what it’s worth, just to clarify for those who might not remember, RE: the “win the week before jinx”, in 2006, Phil won the week before in Atlanta, and then won at Augusta as well seven days later.

    Reply
  3. Watson going to 17 in the lead at -4 – and that is after a par save after going in the creek on 13.  Awesome.

    Reply
  4. Freddie starts birdie, birdie.  Boom Boom. 

    Can anyone tell me what kind of shoes he is wearing?  They look weird on my PC screen, dark on top with white or tan soles.

    Reply

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