Will Tiger Woods have any identifiable adversaries at this years Masters Tournament? Gazing into the PGA Tour crystal ball and deciding which golfers could make a move against Woods lead one to believe that Tiger is on par to win his fifth green jacket at Augusta!
In all fairness, any one golfer could disrupt Tiger's equilibrium long enough to gain ground. In 2007 relative unknown Zach Johnson "just tried to maintain my focus, maintain my game plan" in order to effectively tame Tiger at the Masters.
Trevor Immelman emerged victorious in 2008, leaving Tiger in a second place finish at the Masters for the second year in a row. Immelman and Johnson each had a solo PGA Tour victory prior to their Masters victories.
At this year's Shell Houston Open "tune-up" to the Masters, it was interesting to see who was in top form, which player could use more work and if the winner lurked somewhere in the field.
Fred Couples ate a heaping serving of Humble Pie at the SHO as cheers followed him from his own collegiate turf. After the 72nd hole Fred muttered tiredly that he was "finished", running out of gas and coming in third once again this season.
Although Phil Mickelson has twice been a winner in 2009, this week he missed the cut by ten strokes, finishing fourth from last place! Does this portend disaster for Phil or will he think back to his two glorious wins at Augusta and use that memory to fuel his appetite?
Sergio Garcia could be found at the bottom of the leaderboard this week, right above the names of players who missed the cut. He has never won a major and hasn't made it to the weekend in the last two Masters events. Enough said.
What excuses can be made for Vijay Singh? He may have three previous SHO wins and have a green jacket in the closet from a 2000 Masters win but with his physical ailments, Vijay is an unknown. An M/C this week certainly didn't help his confidence and, as Singh recently stated about Augusta, "I think it's the toughest golf course day in and day out in the world that we play."
Padraig Harrington has a chance to win a third major tournament in a row and set up for a "Paddy-Slam". This could be a positive or negative, depending on how Padraig sees it.
He played solidly through three rounds at the SHO but erupted in the end. Tiger Woods voted for Padraig to win the Player of the Year award but, on the flip side, Harrington won his two majors without Tiger in the field. Harrington looks to "peak at the majors". I place him contention at the Masters because Padraig stated, "I'm totally focused on my mental game at the moment. I'm not trying to fix anything. I'm totally focused on getting my head in the right place."
Finally, what about Tiger Woods? To ask if he has a "shot" at victory this week would be like asking if a man could win the U.S. Open with a bum leg. After nearly a year's layoff, it took Woods only three events to shake off his 'vacation' and fire back with gusto. For obvious reasons he is the favorite and although Woods mentions that it "was nice to take that break", Sergio Garcia said it best. "You always compare to one guy, and it's kind of unfair for the rest because he's extraordinary."
This week we discuss the Masters Tournament, some of our picks and pans and "how-to's" on playing aerated greens and fixing the dreaded blocked shot.
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