The 75th running of the Masters begins Thursday from iconic Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. There are many headlines coming into this 4-day tournament, the first Major of the 2011 PGA Tour season. Will Phil Mickelson repeat and retain his green jacket? Who will step out from the field and surprise? And mainly, how well will Tiger Woods do after failing to show up and win a tournament in over a year? All these questions will surely be answered by late Sunday afternoon, but I’ll attempt to answer those beforehand as best as I can. But first, my predicted results.
I’m not going to do my usual results, by number (i.e. 1. Phil Mickelson), but rather by word, partly because I don’t really want to list all 109 players in the Masters this year and rank them, and also because I want to switch it up a bit. I don’t think you could blame me for the first reason. Anyway, I think that Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer shine, and my 2011 Masters pick is…Martin Kaymer, Germany. I think the young 26-year old, ranked #1 in the world, comes out big time and continues his impressive season and wins his second Major tournament. Kaymer became the world #1 in February, after overtaking Englishman Lee Westwood. I say Westwood finishes second. Now to the forementioned questions.
1. Will Phil Mickelson repeat and retain his green jacket?
Well, that question was answered just above. No, but he’ll definitely have a good tournament, finishing top-10 or maybe even top-5. Phil’s always been great at Augusta and I see no reason why he won’t be this time around, he just won’t be the best, only one of the best.
2. Who will step out from the field and surprise?
That’s been answered also. Kaymer and Westwood will shine, even though technically they’re not part of the field, as they are #1 and #2 in the world, respectably. Either way, I also think Graeme McDowell will play well, once again, and watch out for young Rickie Fowler. The 22-year old, long-haired American will likely fit the ‘surprise’ category. Also keep an eye or two on Ernie Els, who’s got a lot of momentum coming into this tournament.
How well will Tiger Woods do after failing to show up and win a tournament in over a year?
I’ve got bad news for Tiger fans. He won’t finish in the top ten. But, he will finish in the top twenty, an encouraging sign. He’s not at his pre-scandal level yet, but he’ll be at that stage in only a few months, I’m pretty sure about that. ESPN.com’s Rick Reilly pointed out that Tiger isn’t ‘irrelevant’, and I completely agree. When he’s on, he can still dominate. No skill has been lost in the last year, and it’s just bottled up. If you think I’m being a bit too nice to Tiger, maybe I am, but he’s definitely still got it. Just watch this week’s Masters. You’ll see.
With that, have fun watching the Masters, and may the best player win!