Forget by the fans, for the fans – This one is by a dummy for the dummies. As far as golf goes the Masters is the pinnacle of competition. Arguably the most prestigious tournament of the year, The Master’s Tournament is capped off with the winning golfer donning the green jacket to symbolize their triumph over the field at Augusta National Golf Club.
More than just a golf course, Augusta National is a cultural microcosm into the world of golf. Azaleas mean more to golfers here than they do gardeners, pimento cheese sandwiches seem like gourmet fare, and a three hole swing on the back nine has golfers shoutin’ at Amen Corner for some mercy.
So who should you watch this week/weekend? There are a few ripe story lines to mix excitement into the historical tournament:
Tiger is Back! (?)
No pun intended here, but Tiger Woods appears to back in competitive form ahead of the Masters tournament. After his back fusion surgery had taken place, Tiger seems to be painless on his swings, allowing him to fully step back into his game.
In 2018 Tiger has finished T-23rd at the Farmers Insurance Open, 12th at the Honda Classic, T-2 at the Valspar Championship, and T-5th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. A far cry from his top flight form of years passed, but also much better and more consistent than he has been in a long time.
Coming into form at the right time, Woods should see the majority of camera time on the course. He is a sports story line as well as a reality story line following the drama of his personal life. Having him back and competitive means more eyes on the sport, so it’s a good thing. What is different now is that it feels like he can actually win, and that is something that will draw attention in from golf fans and sports fans in general over the next few days.
Maybe with even more pressure on him than Tiger, Rory McIlroy could be a contender for the Green Jacket. The Northern Irishman is chasing history in this tournament with a Grand Slam on the line, having already won the U.S. Open, The (British) Open, and the PGA Championship.
Rory is clearly conscious of his own personal battle with Augusta coming up. Stating that he can’t treat it like any other Master’s tournament. Rory has also said that he is more prepared for this tournament than ever before:
“This is the most I’ve played going into the Masters basically in my career. It used to be my sixth or seventh start, but this is my ninth start this year.“
He is poised to take home that jacket and the Grand Slam with it, something he has been in contention for four times previously in his career.
If we look at last year’s winner, it is proof that anyone can win at the Masters. The epitome of “a good pro,” Sergio Garcia was not supposed to win that tournament in 2017, and yet he did. That really has been the case for the Masters since Tiger and Phil Mickelson traded titles in 2005 and 2006. Over the passed decade the Green Jacket has been moving to new closets across the world.
Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman, Angel Cabrera, Phil Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Jordan Speith, Danny Willett, and Sergio Garcia. Those are the winners over the passed decade. With the exception of Mickelson, who is always a contender, and Jordan Speith who was the youthful up-and-comer, that list is pretty unpredictable, and therefore exciting much like how this year should be.
It’s exactly why my pick to win the tournament is Jhonattan Vegas. The Venezuelan club swinger has my hard earned dollars riding on his success, as him outright winning the tournament would turn my $5 bill into $1,505 ( @301 odds). I followed him around at the Canadian open in 2017, a tournament he went on to win, so I feel a little responsible for his success.
Jhonny Vegas is currently ranked 58th in the world, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for him to contend. It’s my honest opinion on how to add more excitement to the tournament – throw some bucks on an underdog and watch the tournament play out!
If I were smarter, I would probably look a little closer at Alex Noren (@41) to make some money. The Swede not only has the thickest neck on tour, but he has also had a strong 2017. T-2nd at the Farmers Insurance Open, 3rd at the Honda Classic, and top-25 finishes at the Phoenix Open, Genesis Open, and WGC-Mexico Championship have Noren rounding out his game just ahead of the Masters. He is a solid sneaky pick to win the tournament.
So, I guess overall my tips on the Master’s is to bet on an underdog to win it all in order to enjoy the tournament – a revelation, I know. However, maybe this year more than ever this would be bad advice based purely on the amount of story lines present. Tiger is back and Rory is chasing history, so there is plenty to enjoy this weekend. Not to mention Dustin Johnson being able to hit the ball 400+ yards at will and looking to rebound after withdrawing from the 2017 Masters.
As well, will Jordan Speith return to his promising stature atop the golfing field? Will that weirdo Bubba Watson have another remarkable run to win the tournament? Or will Jason Day finally get his Green Jacket? Only time will tell, until them – Lets go Jhonny!