Well it is that time of the year again, the first of this year’s four golf majors is upon us with the US Masters kicking off at Augusta National today. Timing couldn’t be much better for the golf world with Tiger Woods returning from injury and coming into form, winning at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill a few week ago. Add to that Phil Mickelson’s return to form with 2 wins this season already, and young Rory McIlroy making a stir on the US scene, we could have one of the best Masters ever!
Here are my 6 to watch;
Well he would be on anyone’s list wouldn’t he? Probably one of the greatest sportsman ever to walk the earth, recent stats had Tiger earning over £90 million during 2008, 3 times more than David Beckham. Now remember he was off injured for half of the year… People were doubting his ability to come back, and whether the injury would change his swing. But on the final day at Bay Hill 3 few weeks ago, Tiger overturned a 5 shot deficit to win the Arnold palmer Invitational and put everyone’s doubts to rest after knee surgery last year. At Augusta you need to drive well and putt well, both made Tiger famous so he the favourite, for me though, he is still not back to his best and I have him finishing in the top 10.
Before Tigers win at Bay Hill, Big Phil was probably the favourite for this event by some margin. He is playing great golf this year now his work with golf supremo Butch Harmon is really starting to pay off. The left hander is a short game magician, and assuming his putter fires could take his third green jacket this weekend, at what he calls his ‘favourite week of the year’. For me a top 3 finish.
Really stepped up and has won the last 2 majors, with the Open and the USPGA, and is trying to win his third straight major this week. I think the Irishman will be the first to admit his form has not been where he has wanted it lately, probably due to a lack of early season golf. However Padraig is a battler, and expect him to be there or there abouts come Sunday, for me no better than a top 10 finish though.
The Australian has been in scintillating form this year, with 2 wins already under his belt, blowing away the competition at the world WGC-Accenture Match Play a few months ago. He can win a major as he proved in the US Open during 2006 and he will be rock steady throughout this week. For me Geoff is my tip for the win, nothing phases this guy, he is a great driver of the ball, irons more crisp than walkers and a great putter on his day. The world number 4 is my Masters champion.
The top Englishman in the world right now at number 6 expect Paul to be right in there if his putter works. He was coming into form anyway, with wins in Abu Dhabi and Texas, as well as reaching the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Add to those wins, the triumph in Houston last week, as well as 3 top 11 finishes at Augusta in his last 4 outings and you have a guy who may well go all the way. Will be in the mix and is my betting tip for top European this week.
Yes I should have stopped after Casey and made it a simple 5 to watch, but I just couldn’t resist mentioning young Rory, one of the hottest prospects in golf right now. Butch Harmon even went as far as saying that at 19, Rory is better than a young Tiger at the same age, now that is some comparison! He propelled himself into the US limelight at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, after being knocked out by eventual winner Geoff Ogilvy by a shot. He starts the week playing with young gun American, Anthony Kim which I hope will be a titanic battle and a great one for the fans. No doubt they will both be battling it out for years to come.
Also keep an eye out for Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson who should run well this week.
Well that’s my predictions, and you know the best thing? You can watch it all live on the BBC and the BBC website if you are in the UK. Click over to the BBC website to find your favourite players tee times.