Winning the Masters is everyone professional golfer’s dream. I can only imagine the elation and emotion at the Green Jacket Ceremony – when the former champion dons the new winner with the iconic jacket. It’s an honor unlike any other.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I’m beyond excited about this week, but at the same time, I’m feeling overwhelmed. Everytime I check my Google Reader, there are a gagillion new posts and articles about the Masters. And guess what? With a few exceptions, they all say the SAME thing; mostly about who’s going to win and how they’re so many interesting story lines. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree. I love the narratives and choosing players to watch.
Now, I’m going to contradict what I just said and put in my two cents. Like other golf fans, bloggers and writers, I have done my fair share of contemplating who has the best shot at that green jacket.
- Geoff Ogilvy – His game is made for Augusta. Not only is he an excellent ball-striker, but he hits it high (and straight as an arrow), which will help hold the ball on Augusta’s firm greens. Thus far in 2009, he’s ranked #1 in putting on Tour and #4 in the World. He has played like a major champ all year. Need I say more? Oh, one more thing: he has momentum after placing T-6 at last week’s Shell Houston Open.
- Tiger Woods – I know, I know. This is such an obvious pick that I’m even annoyed with myself, but you can’t bet against him. He’s won 4 times at Augusta. Not to mention, after his clutch win at Bay Hill two weeks ago, he is oozing with confidence (even more than usual).
- Fred Couples – Yes, he’s 49 and yes, he bogeyed the last three holes last week to lose his lead (breaking my heart, mind you). His age and mental endurance make him a questionable choice. However, he’s a past Masters champion who knows Augusta inside-out; nothing bothers him out there. His experience will be advantageous with over 20 appearances at the Masters. While he was shaky coming down the stretch last Sunday, he still tied for third, which isn’t too shabby the last time I checked. Expect Freddie to have his game face on!
- Stewart Cink – Okay, I know what you’re all thinking. If you’ve been following my blog, then you’ve probably noticed that I’m a bit obssessed with Cink, particularly his Twitter updates. Well, you can’t blame me – he seems to be genuinely a cool guy. He’s at the Masters and he’s responding to his fans on Twitter! How can you not love him?! He even took a picture of his SHOE and tweeted it! Back to the point, Cink is a “dark horse” candidate, but he has finished in the top 20 over the past 5 years at Augusta, including a third place finish last year. Moreover, he’s played a few extra practice rounds in the past week and taken careful notes about the minor changes made to several of the greens. Cink isn’t ranked in the top 5 or even the top 20 in the world, but those numbers don’t mean everything – I would say that the past two Masters champs, Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman, were less experienced and established than Cink. On that note, there is a real possibility he’ll be sporting green on Sunday.
- Kenny Perry – He hasn’t played in the Masters since 2005, but he has 5 top-10 finishes this season on the PGA Tour. He’s ranked 4th in FedEx Standing Points. Most importantly, his game sets up well for Augusta because he hits a draw. He doesn’t even try to hit a fade, which for once works to Perry’s advantage since just about every hole at Augusta is designed for that lovely right-to-left ball flight.