09 April 2013

2013 Masters Preview

Let's be honest, there is nothing quite like the Masters and I know I say that every year but you know it is true. It is the most prestitious tournament in all of golf and it is one that results in immortality for every winner. The iconic green jacket is what all the golfers are aiming for this weekend at Augusta, but who will win it?

TV Schedule

Is this the year Tiger Woods finally wins his fifth Masters?
I feel like I ask this every year. Actually, I have, but it is also seemingly the bigger story every year considering who it involves. Woods had his worst finish in a Masters last year since he missed the cut in 1996. Of course, he went out the next year and had one of the most dominant performances in the history of the tournament. It also does not hurt that Woods has been playing some tremendous golf of late with three wins in five events in 2013, as well as two in a row last month, as well as returning to the top ranking for the first time since October of 2010. One would think that Woods peaking at the right time bodes well for this week.

Can Rory McIlroy put it together?
The expectations were high for McIlroy going into 2013 after he finished 2012 strong and had the much-hyped move to Nike, but he has disappointed this year with no wins thus far and that embarrassing withdrawal at PGA National a month ago. He did play well last week in San Antonio, nearly chasing down a hot Martin Laird for the win, but he also has the reputation of being very hit-or-miss, which he does not appear to mind. His resume at Augusta is pretty inconsistent, and the memory of that epic meltdown in 2011 is still in some people's minds but he the 24-year old is still one of the most talented golfers in the world and has the capability for a dominant victory.

Can Bubba Watson repeat?
Only three guys have repeated as Masters champ and they are some of the biggest names in the history of the sports: Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02). So therefore, history is not on Watson's side considering it is so hard to win this tournament just once, let alone twice, and especially twice in a row. Plus, the highest finish of the past five winners has been 18th. Now while Watson is always a threat due to his huge drives, I would be pleasantly surprised if he won a second straight green jacket.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters win in him?
With Mickelson, there really is no in-between; either he is rolling or he is a complete mess. But Augusta has turned into one of his best courses, having won the Masters thrice with the last coming in 2010. And he was very much in the mix a year ago, finishing tied for third. So don't be surprised if he is very much in the hunt come Sunday.

Can Matt Kuchar or Lee Westwood win this first major this week?
Two of the top players on the PGA Tour without a victory in a major are Matt Kuchar and Lee Westwood and boy would this be a great tournament to get that first. Both have had success at the Masters recently, with the two among those tied for third a year ago and with Westwood nearly winning it in 2010, so we know they have the game for Augusta. The questions, though, for each remain: does Kuchar have enough length in his game and is Westwood's short game good enough?

Who will win?
While the reasoning to pick Tiger is so strong, I am going to pick somebody else. In fact, the guy I think is going to win the green jacket, his first, will be Rory McIlroy. Yes he is all over the place but he has had success at this course before, he played very well last week and appears to have his confidence back, he is not afraid of failing and I think he will put it all together for the biggest win of his career.

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