by Jeff Skinner
For all golf fans today is one of the most anticipated days of the year. The snow is gone, the courses are opening and Arnie, Jack and Gary are the official starters of the golf season: The Masters is here.
The 78th Masters gets underway today as the Big Three take their turns on the first tee at Augusta National. Everyone has their favorites and Adam Scott has joined Rory McIlroy as the betting favorites at 10-1 with Phil Mickelson at 12-1. But there are many golfers that could be walking away with a new green jacket on Sunday.
Here are the picks from the boys at Links Life Golf. We don’t know much but we know who we like.
G. Rennie, master wordsmith and owner of the sweetest draw north of Augusta:
Adam Scott– This classy Aussie has it all, both on the course and off, but I’ll stay with on course skills. He possesses the finest swing around, has a very tidy short game and has learned how to manage a course. Since the move to the broomstick putter (an endangered species soon to be extinct) he’s developed consistency and self-belief if not a deft touch. Most importantly, he’s found himself, knows who is, and knows how to get up off the mat after a knockout. His sudden death victory over the game sportsman Angel Cabrera last year was great drama. The fact that he had squandered a four stroke lead at The Open Championship the last time he played a major made this improbable rebound even more astonishing. He knows how to heal and what it takes to win on the largest stage. His recent meltdown at Bay Hill is forgotten but he’s aware that history awaits if he repeats at Augusta.
Phil Mickelson – It’s an even numbered year, so Phil has to be a prohibitive favorite. His three prior Masters wins have all been in years divisible by two: 2004, 2006 and 2010. It’s like he was spacing out children, found a two year gap was a little too close, then spread it to four. Some say Philly Mick has no form coming in to Augusta. Prior form doesn’t matter to a select few golfer’s when it comes to this “ magical place” as Phil calls Augusta National. Phil is transformed by something, or many things, once he drives down Magnolia Lane.
Jason Day– This is the year of the Aussie Onslaught with four wins registered on Tour so far this year, a run which was ignited by Day’s marathon win in The WGC Match Play at Dove Mountain in February. He’s been on the shelf since with a bum thumb but seems ready to go after rest and a bit of cortisone. A power player that moves the ball well two ways he perhaps doesn’t get enough credit for a solid short game and a great putting stroke. With two top three’s in the past couple of trips to Augusta he’s demonstrated he’s learned the nuances of the course. He’s ready to win a major, this major.
Long Shot- Jordan Spieth. How can the #13 golfer on the OWGR rankings be a long shot? This is Spieth’s first trip to The Masters and everyone knows it takes years to understand it let alone master it. But it can happen, ask Fuzzy, as Zoeller was the last man to win his maiden trip at Augusta National back in ’79. This young Texan has had the most spectacular debut on the PGA Tour since one E. Woods.
The only golfer’s that will rest easy tonight are the Big Three- Arnie, Jack and Gary – who’ll kick off the competition with ceremonial tee balls at7:30. I can’t wait.
Big Dick,who owns a swing as silky smooth as Bobby Jones himself, likes Phil Mickelson to get his fourth green jacket. He thinks Matt Kuchar, despite his last two collapses has a chance. Maybe Rickie Fowler will get his first major and he thinks that Sergio Garcia is worthy of his dark horse selection.
Lil Skins, who is so long he uses his three wood like Phil, thinks Rory McIlroy will win his third major, “Tiger is passing the torch not because he wants to but because he is done.” He also picks Tom Watson, an emotional selection for sure. And sticking to his familial roots, he also takes Phil Mickelson, because ”Phil’s the man.” His dark horse is the very limber Miguel Angel Jimenez, “because he is really the man.”
The Greek who is a man of few words but many swings likes the youngsters and thinks Jordan Spieth, Jason Day or Jason Dufner will earn their first major. Graham DeLaet has earned the Greek’s pick as a dark horse contender, fear the beard.
Big Skins As for me, there are no words to describe my game and I had a hard time narrowing down my list of contenders. If it’s The Masters, I am a Philly Mick man for sure. No matter the state of Lefty’s game he always brings it once his feet touch the green, green grass of Augusta.
It is so difficult to defend a major championship and only three have done it at The Masters (Nicklaus, Faldo, Woods) but I can’t disrespect Adam Scott. Scott is as classy as they come and another Masters will give us more Scotty and that’s never a bad thing.
Jason Day was going to be my third pick but two things forced me to pass him over: his six week hiatus for his injured thumb and the fact that G. Rennie and I would have picked all the same contenders. So in his place I am taking Dustin Johnson. How long can he contend, contend, contend and not come through? If he can get rid of that one bad hole that does it to him each major he may just finally do it.
I think the Greek may be on to something with DeLaet as a dark horse but I will stick with Dick’s pick of Sergio Garcia for my dark horse. Sergio had a tough year last year but he appears to have come out better for it. But Sergio needs to come from behind on Sunday. I think if he has the lead or is in the final pairing he may just succumb to those demons like he has so many times before.
It’s the best time of the season, its The Masters.