Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 Masters Tournament Preview: Masters Week Day 2, Tournament Pairings Announced

Well, it is Tuesday of Masters week. The main day of preparation for all of the players. This is the final day that most of the field will be out on the course, playing a full practice round. Tomorrow is the Par 3 competition, so some of the field will be on the executive layout adjacent to the tournament course. The tee times have been released, beginning with Craig Stadler, Brendan Steele, and Tim Clark off the first tee at 7:50 AM following the first tee shot from honorary starters Jack Nicklaus, Arnould Palmer, and Gary Player.

Some of the pairings to watch:

Group 14: Charl Schwartzel, Keegan Bradley, Kelly Kraft (am)
The traditional grouping, pairing the reigning Masters Champion with the reigning US Amateur Champion and the PGA Champion. Bradley has been playing extremely well this year, with numerous top 10s and chances to win a couple tournaments. And his game sets up very well for Augusta, with his high ball flight and left-to-right shot shape. Can he make it 2-2? And can Schwartzel become the first back-to-back winner since Tiger? And will Kraft make it to the weekend and win low-amateur honors?

Group 15: Tiger Woods, M.A. Jimenez, Sang Moon Bae
The group everyone was waiting to hear. Tiger Woods looks to win his first Masters tournament since 2005. And he is hitting the ball better than ever. If he can putt and use his experience, I think he has a pretty good chance to come out on top. And he should be pretty comfortable in this group, with the uber-relaxed Jimenez and the young phenom from Korea. Look for Tiger to go low starting Thursday.

Group 16: Luke Donald, Francisco Molinari, Nick Watney
World Number 1 Luke Donald tees off following Tiger Woods. Will he finally win the elusive major? He's coming in to the tournament winning the last time he played. And can Nick Watney regain his form from 2011 and surprise many with a win?

Group 31: Rory McIlroy, Angel Cabrera, Bubba Watson
The second to last group of the first day includes World #2 Rory McIlroy. And it is unusual to say McIlroy is the shortest hitter of the group. Will he put 2011 behind him? And can Bubba finally put together 4 full rounds in a major? Or will Cabrera pull another one out of the hat and play great golf and win his 3rd major?

Group 32: Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Peter Hanson
This should be a fun group. The best driver of the ball in the world and arguably the hottest player right now, Hunter Mahan, looks to win his first major. He should keep it in play and have a good shot if the putter and shortgame stay solid. And Phil has played good golf in 2012 with a win and some top 10s, and you can never count him out.

The award for "Group Most Likely to cause a brawl": Group 23: Kevin Na, Frederik Jacobsen, Ben Crane
If you want to watch slow play and don't mind pulling your hair out, follow this group.

Other players to watch:
Justin Rose (Group 10)
Steve Stricker (Group 7)
Lee Westwood (Group 27)
KJ Choi (Group 30)

Well, there's the preview of the groups to watch at the 2012 Masters Tournament. Look for coverage of the par 3 tournament tomorrow, as well as final predictions going in to Thursday's opening round. I cannot wait!

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