The Masters at Augusta National; the goal – the most prized possession of all – the green jacket. Winning on this course requires perfection and guts. Memories of heroic performances hang heavy in many golf enthusiasts and another chapter will be written into Augusta’s history books in the 79th running of the Masters from April 9 to 12.
The biggest storyline to those outside the increasingly exclusive golf fandom, is whether Tiger Woods will compete at The Masters. Woods continues to struggle with lingering injuries that (due to the vast amount of them) may threaten his future as a professional golfer. Whether or not Woods competes at Augusta, the expectation of him are low, so don’t expect his name to be nearing the top of the leaderboard on sunday afternoon.
Defending champion Bubba Watson is looking to join a small group of golfers who have won back to back Masters. Bubba’s streaky type of play is his strength and his weakness. To win a four day tournament, a golfer must play some of his best golf, much like in the NFL when a wildcard team gets hot at the right time and parades to the super bowl (the New York Giants’ specialty). On the other hand, if a golfer isn’t hot at the right time and bombs on day one or two, their victory hopes are dashed away. This makes Bubba interesting as we know he can get hot at the right times (Masters 2012, 2014), but also cool off and compound his issues on the next hole.
The favourite to win the 2015 Masters is Rory Mcilroy. The northern Irishman has developed extensively since making his first splash at the 2011 Masters, which was far from successful. Mcilroy shot the worst round by any professional golfer who started the day, leading the field shooting a disappointing 80 on the penultimate Sunday. Until recently, this collapse has defined Mcilroy to the public, but a strong 2013 and 2014 tour propelled Mcilroy to the top of the rankings. Unlike the many golfers who had a quick stay atop the rankings, Mcilroy is a mainstay. Capable of making any shot at any time and an improving short make Mcilroy the class of the field. However a young American aims to upend Mcilroy and supplant himself as a top competitor.
Jordan Spieth came onto the scene at last year’s Masters, staying on the leaderboard almost all tournament. But much like Mcilroy he fell apart on Sunday. The 21-year-old comes into the Masters on a hot streak, winning the Valspar Championship on March 2 and placing second at the Texas Open March 26. Spieth will be eager to prove his number two ranking come April 9, and there’s no course better to prove oneself than Augusta.
While the favourites are young, the notables are back as well and can’t be counted out. Phil Mickelson is always in the hunt and should be considered a legitimate threat to the youngsters based on his resumé. But the changing of the guards is clear; Lefty is the last of the previous generation that can fight with the youth. Speith or Mcilroy, it doesn’t matter because we’re all cheery for Freddy Couples. That’s right; Freddy always shoots great the first two days and hopefully for all of us he puts one together for the old timers.