The first Major of the year is upon us and all seems to be right in the golfing world. Tiger seems to be back, or at least closer than ever before. Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald have been duking it out for the World #1. And we had quite a warm month of March, allowing many of us up here in New England to hit the course sooner than we normally would.
Is there a better week on the PGA TOUR than Master’s week? I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of one. It always seems to have that extra layer of excitement. The first Major of the season, the beauty of Augusta National, and the exclusiveness of the tournament all add to the drama.
Last year’s Masters saw Rory McIlroy squander the lead and shoot an 80 on the final day, leaving the door open for Charl Schwartzel to claim his first Major. This year’s tournament is sure to have its own drama, with the state Tiger’s game and his recent victory, Rory’s continued consistent play worldwide, and Luke Donald and Lee Westwood both vying for their own first Major. No question it will be fun to watch as usual.
A Group - Phil Mickelson has had a bit of an up and down start to the year. He almost had back to back wins back in February before losing in a playoff at the Northern Trust Open to Bill Haas. Since then he’s been so-so, but it’s hard to deny Phil’s track record at the Masters (3 victories). Backing him up I have to go with New England native, and Masters rookie Keegan Bradley. Bradley hasn’t finished outside of the top 25 at a tournament all year, and has two top 10s in there as well. His length (currently ranked 13th in Driving Distance) will certainly help him at Augusta. Bradley also ranks 7th in scoring average, as well as 22nd in strokes gained – putting, a stat that will certainly come in handy on Augusta’s slick greens.
B Group – I’m going out on a real limb here and taking Tiger and Rory to start in my B group (please sense my sarcasm). All signs point to Tiger’s game being back to form with a dominant victory two weeks ago at Bay Hill, and Rory continues to impress with a victory earlier in the year at the Honda, a runner-up at the WGC Match Play, and a 3rd place at the WGC Cadillac Championship. Rory will be looking for redemption after that historic collapse on Sunday last year.
C Group - Last year Charl Schwartzel amazingly birdied the final four holes at Augusta to beat Jason Day and Adam Scott by two strokes. In 2012 Schwartzel has continued his stellar play despite a couple of MCs in his last two events. That being said, I’m instead going with some nostalgia and starting Freddy Couples in my C group. Couples always shows up for Augusta (T15 in 2011) and continues to light up the Champions Tour.
Starting Foursome: Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Fred Couples
On the Bench: Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel