Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Masters 2012 Two Week Preview and Prediction

Well, it is that time of year again. The time of year where the northerners are dusting off the clubs, the time where the southerners are finishing their weekly nassau, the time where casual golf fans are emerging from the woodwork and starting to pay attention to the PGA tour again. In two weeks, golfers will be arriving to Augusta, reaquainting themselves with Magnolia Lane and the tradition that is The Masters. And this year may just have the most anticipation for the tournament that many can remember.

This year, all the big name golfers seem to be in top form for the tournament. Phil Mickelson has regained his form, with a win and a second-place finish in a playoff. And we all know Phil peaks at Augusta, where he last won in 2010. The last major champion, Keegan Bradley, also is at the top of his game. We have rarely had a leaderboard in 2012 that has not included his name. Will he win 2 majors in a row?

Luke Donald started off 2012 pretty flat, but after his 2011 season many people imagined it wouldn't be as easy for him. But it seemed losing his #1 ranking for a couple weeks motivated him, taking the Transitions Championship in dramatic fasion, winning in a 4 man playoff with a great iron shot from the rough to 6 feet. And with that, Luke regained his #1 ranking, though he himself has said that a major would be much more important to him at this time.

And the man who took Donald's #1 ranking? Well, that would be Rory McIlroy. And we all remember the epic collapse starting at 10 last year. But this is a new Rory. He is now a major champion, and many consider him the best player in the game this year. And to further affirm that position, Rory has a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finish in tournaments in the US this year. I don't think any golf fans out there have him far from the top of their predictions for the Masters.

And then there's the enigma, the GOAT for many people, Tiger Woods. Woods has looked pretty good so far in 2012. I can't remember him driving the ball so well, ever. And his iron shots are getting better, too. But his putter is still holding him back. But if anyone in the field knows Bobby Jones' greens at Augusta, it is Tiger Woods. He has finished T4 the past 2 years without any signs of good golf at the beginning of the season. This year, he has a couple top 10s and a 3rd place finish in Dubai. And at this time tomorrow, Tiger may be celebrating his first PGA Tour win in over 2 seasons, with a 1 shot lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won 6 times before. I don't think anyone would be surprised if Tiger won his 5th green jacket.

There are numerous other players who have a great chance of wearing the Green Jacket come Easter Sunday. Will Adam Scott or Jason Day become the first Australian-born player to win The Masters? Will Lee Westwood finally break through and take his first major championship? Will Martin Kaymer win another major? Will American bombers Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson overpower the course? Will Freddie Couples surprise everyone and make a run at a second green jacket? No one knows at this time. Heck, I bet the winner still will not be determined Sunday when the final group hits Amen Corner. But that doesn't mean I cannot make my predictions.

Winner: Tiger Woods

I just think Tiger is playing better than he has for the last 5 seasons, especially with the driver. The results may not show yet, but I think his swing looks better than it has for a while. I think Tiger will silence doubters and win his 15th Major Championship.

In Contention on the Back 9 Sunday:

Rory McIlroy
Hunter Mahan
Adam Scott
Phil Mickelson

Leader after 36, but bad round Saturday:

Bubba Watson

There you have it, folks. I cannot wait for The Masters, because I know it will be one of the better tournaments in the past few years.

Hit 'em Straght

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