Welcome to Masters Week everyone! This week we have the first major of the year and arguably the most prestigious. 96 of the world’s best will be hoping Bubba Watson puts a green jacket on them to cap off a spectacular week. Bubba on the other hand, will be hoping to retain the green jacket and capture his 2nd Masters title.
The first ever Masters champion was Horton Smith in 1934. Since that inaugural win, the mystique and excitement surrounding the Masters has grown with each year. Champions like Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player have all won the green jacket multiple times. Recently we have seen two men dominate the Masters, Tiger and Phil. Six out of the last twelve years either Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson have taken the title at this weekend’s tournament. Will they do it again or will another player achieve his first major championship with a Masters victory?
Augusta is a Par 72, 7435-yard course, which demands players are at the top of their game. The course is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the entire world (It actually almost looks fake it’s so perfect). Since the course has been lengthened people have said that it has turned into a bombers course. Zach Johnson however used the approach of laying up on every Par 5 in the 2007 Masters and took the Championship.
My favorite hole on the course is the 170 yard Par 3 16th; a hole that has seen its fair share of excitement. The most famous shot on the 16th occurred in the 2005 Masters when Tiger hit a chip shot witnessed around the world. Woods chipped it to the upper shelf of the green (past the hole) and watched as the ball made a U-Turn and headed back towards the hole. The ball rested on the edge of the cup for what seemed like an eternity, only to roll in for an amazing birdie. If you are looking to see a hole in one at the Masters, the 16th is a great place to park your seat. Look for the 15th (reachable Par5) and the 16th to make a difference come Sunday.
The 11th Hole I feel is the most difficult hole on the course, and the beginning to Amen corner. A 505-yard, tree lined Par 4, forces players to be very accurate off the tee. A pond guards the left side of the green and you will see many shots this week come up short and to the right (in a large swale). Look for plenty of bogeys this week on number 11.
THE PLAYERS FOR 2013 MASTERS
97 players have the opportunity to win the Masters at the start of the week (Though I would not put my money on Ben Crenshaw, even if he is paying out 1000/1). The Masters will have a slew of players making their first appearance at the storied event. Only one player in the last 76 years has won the event when competing for his first time (Fuzzy Zoeller 1979). Players such as George Coetzee, Russell Henley and Jamie Donaldson will all be trying to become the first man since Fuzzy to achieve such a feat.
Large swarms of people will be following players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and for good reason. But there is a new group of golfers who will also attract plenty of attention this week (Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy.) People are intrigued by the up and coming stars golf has produced over the past few seasons.
Finally, will this be the year Lee Westwood, Justin Rose or Luke Donald wins his first major. The three best players in the world who have not won a major have all enjoyed previous success here at Augusta. Justin is the third ranked player, Luke is the forth ranked player in the world, and Lee has fallen recently to 13th. The fact that none of these men have won a major, speaks volumes to the difficulty of the task.
The Masters Free Pick
This week’s free pick is going to be a head to head pick as we are keeping the 6-pack picks for the best tournament of the year for members only… visit GolfBanker.com to become a member.
Padraig Harrington (+100) over Graeme McDowell – Graeme has enjoyed a solid start to 2013, as he has Top 10’s in three of his five events. He does not however have consistent success at Augusta as he has missed the cut in 3 of his 5 starts here. Graeme is one of the shorter hitters on Tour as he averages on 279 yards off the tee, and that puts a ton of pressure on players at Augusta. With wet conditions expected for the first few days, the course will be playing much longer. Harrington will have a large advantage off the tee and I feel overall this week. We will take Ireland over Northern Ireland in this battle of talented European players.