Next week is The Masters, are you excited? I am.
In my opinion it is the greatest tournament in golf, although I’m sure across the pond some people will say The Open is better because it’s a links course and nature often throws a curve into things, not to mention those bunkers that look like craters.
But back to the great American classic. There’s nothing like seeing the battle for the coveted green jacket on an Augusta National course with its undulations and quirks. If you don’t hit it straight off the tee, it’s trouble.
I think the Masters is the official sign of spring. And after the crazy weather we’ve had this year, I welcome the azaleas and the lush, pristine greenery and scenery, along with those moments when it is so quiet you can hear birds chirping. It kind of reminds me of a forest with those tall trees enveloping the magnificent fairways.
The Masters is almost mythical with the way it is described by announcers in hush tones. I think Shakespeare could have written a play about it if the tournament was around when he was scripting stories.
All that said, I just wish there was a limit to how many years previous champions could play in it. Win it once and the player receives a lifetime exemption. That’s why a player such Fred Couples (Bridgestone B330-S), who won the tournament in 1992, can make a run at the lead. I think the Masters is a tournament that is less about skill and more about familiarity. Those who have played the course understand its nuances and how to attack it without getting greedy.
The Masters is probably as much a test of mental stamina as it is physical stamina. The lure of winning the tournament can be the intangible that causes some players to make a lapse in judgment. Winning a Masters has so much value: prize money, endorsements and immortality.
The Masters plays with a limited field unlike other tournaments because it allows former champions. So that is why a player such as Couples can put himself into position to try to win the tournament. I like seeing the best of the best currently playing on a weekly, biweekly or some form or a regular schedule. Yeah, some people say previous winners have earned the right to be there and can play as long as they want, but at some point shooting in the high 70s or 80s is embarrassing. I love the fact that Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player begin the Masters with ceremonial tee shots. They realized long ago they didn’t need the grind of 72 holes at their ages.
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of new, young talented players developing in the ranks and they need to play in these types of tournaments to advance their game. There’s a variety of spots open for top American amateurs and others from around the globe. That said, they are playing to get experience. It’s unrealistic to think any of them will win.
So who is going to win it this year? Well, I think it is too early to say at this point, but I’m leaning toward Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade TP5x) because I just think he is due. Rory McIlroy has had an incredible year and this is the only Major he hasn’t won. And Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS) cannot be dismissed. He had a storybook season a year ago and if he won the Masters this year it would be off the charts.
What about Matt Kuchar (Bridgestone Tour B X), who has had an interesting season to say the least? He’s one of those best players to not have won a Major. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll do away with that moniker just like Sergio Garcia (Callaway Chrome Soft) did when he won the Masters in 2017. If Garcia and Kuchar somehow found themselves in a run for the Masters, it would certainly kindle the controversy the two had last week in the World Golf Championships Match Play. At least this time there will not be any holes conceded.