Thursday, April 10, 2014

Masters Preview

It's the best week of the year folks!  Let's take a stroll down Magnolia Lane and get ready (albeit a few hours late) for the 2014 Masters.  One huge difference this year is that Tiger Woods will not be in the field for the first time since 1994.  While this no doubt hurts the Masters hysteria in the media, most golf fans will still be glued to the television over the next four days.  And while Tiger was no doubt a favorite to win, the field still has about the same chances with Tiger out.  The fast and firm conditions will most likely only keep the world's top-20 in contention for this year's Green Jacket.  With that said, let's take a look at who's got a chance to win it all this week.

Lefties:  Augusta National has proved advantageous to lefties over the last 15 years or so.  Five lefties have donned the Green Jacket since 2003.  In the other three majors combined, there have only been three left-handed champions ever (I think).  For that reason alone, you have to like Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and the veteran Mike Weir.

Repeat Champions: While it has been very difficult to defend a Masters championship as of late, we have seen many Masters champions win a second green jacket in the 5-8 year range after their first.  Have a look:

Bernhard Langer: 1985, 1993
Nick Faldo: 1989, 1990, 1996
Jose Maria Olazabal: 1994, 1999
Tiger Woods: 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005
Phil Mickelson: 2004, 2006, 2010

Based on that evidence, keep an eye out for Phil once again, Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman and Angel Cabrera.

Hot players:  Several players have been playing very well the past few weeks, and have vaulted up the power rankings for this week.  Matt Kuchar is a top-10 machine, Adam Scott has played well recently and is the defending Masters champ, and Dustin Johnson seems to have all the tools to win a major (except maybe the brain).

Sleepers: The Masters always has a random mix of old guys, Asians, and guys that seemingly came out of nowhere at the top of the leaderboard over the weekend.  Don't sleep on guys like Marc Leishman, Fred Couples, KJ Choi or a random Brit.

Prediction:  Like I said earlier, I think with the conditions as they are supposed to be this Masters will be won by a top-20 player.  Approach shots and putting will be crucial as always, and because of that there are a few guys I like this week.  Keep an eye on Fat Phil, Jason Day, Zach Johnson and Rickie Fowler.  They are my picks for the 2014 Masters.  Above all though, enjoy the best sporting event in the world.  I say that with no exaggeration.

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