Hello Friends. Spring is here and it’s that time of year again. Time to journey down Magnolia lane and take a trip into the beautiful world of Augusta National Golf Club. Let’s take a look at the players trying to win the most coveted trophy in golf…the green Jacket.
James is leading our league by quite a hefty margin through the first 12 weeks of the season and with a win last week by Phil Mickelson, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. First up on his roster, Phil Mickelson (boosted by an Osicki Explosion) will be looking to defend his jacket and win The Masters for the fourth time in his illustrious career. Nick Watney (also with an Osicki Explosion) will look to finally break through on the major stage after finishing in the top ten last year, and winning a few weeks ago at The Cadillac Championship. Rickie Fowler is competing in his first Masters, and what better tournament to get your first win than the most prestigious one in golf. Rory McIlroy carded a pair of 3rd place finishes in last year’s two final majors, and looks to continue the momentum in a tournament where he missed the cut last year. Finally Martin Laird comes into his first Masters with the incredible momentum of four top tens and a win already this year. Will it continue?
The Beast thrived at The Masters last year, where he rang up 195 points and two top tens. He comes into this year’s first major sitting comfortably in second with an elite core to be envied. The prime member of that core is Matt Kuchar (aided by an Osicki Explosion), who has shot the lights out over the first third of the season with six top tens, but is still looking for that illusive first major victory. The veteran presence on Beast’s team is provided by Steve Stricker, who has cashed in finishes of 30th and 6th in the last two years at Augusta National. The final member of Beast’s core three is the young hotshot Anthony Kim, who’s potential is underlined by his 3rd place finish in 2010, but can also be very hit-or-miss. Rory Sabbatini will be the first of Beast’s depth players taking to the course. With a win already this year, he’s on a hot streak, but his results at Augusta National have been sporadic. Rounding out Beast’s team is the perennial bridesmaid Steve Marino, who has four second place finishes in his career, but has yet to break through with a win and improve on his 14th place finish from last year.
Fuchs is leading the very tight pack from 3rd to 6th, and so far has drastically improved his team’s performance from last year with 12 top tens through 12 weeks. First up for Fuchs is his hottest (golf-wise) player Hunter Mahan (Osicki’d), who’s record at The Masters is stellar, with two top tens in two tries. Next up is Ryan Moore, who usually seems to fly under the radar, despite a pair of top five finishes already this year. Vijay Singh will be the eldest member of Fuchs’ team teeing it up this week, and the 2000 Masters champ has an exemplary resume at Augusta National, including top tens from 2002-2006. Consistently ranked near the top in putting statistics, Brandt Snedeker will try to tame the greens at Augusta and improve on his third place finish from 2008. The last member of Fuchs’ squad is Stewart Cink, a former British Open champion who, prior to 2009 was having consistent success at The Masters.
Part of the 3-6 logjam, Dave has desperately been trying to jump-start his team, who have struggled to build up momentum. However, players like Furyk and Rose have shown signs of life in the last few weeks and it looks like Dave can see the light at the end of the tunnel. First up for Dave is white-hot brit Justin Rose, who has finished outside of the top 25 just once this season, yet his success seems to go largely un-noticed by the general public. Rose’s best finish at Augusta was a tie for fifth in 2007. Next up for Dave is the always-interesting Bubba Watson, who’s massive distance and ability to shape shots will hopefully help him improve on his previous best, a tie for 20th. Dave will also be rostering the world #2 this week in Lee Westwood (along with an Osicki Explosion). Westwood was the runner up last year to Mickelson, and is widely thought of as the best current player never to have won a major. Graeme McDowell won’t have to worry about that distinction, as he claimed his first career victory at the U.S. Open last year, however his Masters record is spotty with two missed cuts in three attempts. Finally the wild-card on Dave’s roster is Y.E. Yang, who beat out Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen for the chance to earn some points this week and repeat his top ten performance from last year.
After starting off hot last season and fading down the stretch, Brent seems to have taken the opposite approach this year and has gotten off to a tremendously slow start, with Luke Donald being his only consistent player. Brent will be looking for more magic this week from Donald (and his friend Osicki), but no player has ever won the Wednesday par 3 tournament and gone on to win The Masters. Brent will no doubt be hoping Donald can break that streak. He will also be relying on Ben Crane to keep up his positive play, although Crane has never finished inside the top 20 and has made less cuts than he has missed at Augusta. K.J. Choi has gotten off to a decent start this season (although he has missed two cuts) and boasts a pair of top 5 finishes in his Masters career. Ian Poulter takes his EXTREME hotness level to Augusta National where he looks to turn around a season that has started poorly, with just one top ten in five tries. Rounding up Brent’s team is Adam Scott, who despite his mediocre record at Augusta, has seven career wins and with a good week could put himself in contention.
Finally we have Bryce who, despite having a set of keepers who inspire fear, finds himself dwelling in our league’s proverbial cellar. He’s been right on top of some good free agent pickups already this year, but he needs to start getting some wins from his top guys to contend. Tiger Woods is one of those guys who, while he used to be an unstoppable force on the golf course, now finds himself struggling to make cuts. Maybe a trip to Augusta where he has won four times and boasts a ridiculous seven OTHER top tens will be what he needs to regain his winning ways. Dustin Johnson could also use a bit of a wake-up call, as he’s finished outside of the top 25 five times already this year. However, Bryce may have to wait another week as Johnson has never finished inside the top 30 in two previous tries. Paul Casey can hopefully give Bryce a little boost, although he has yet to register a top ten this year. Tim Clark will look to overcome some injury issues that have kept him sidelined since his 2nd place finish at The Sony Open. At Augusta, he seems to alternate 13 place finishes with missed cuts, and it looks as though he’s in line for another top fifteen this week. Finally, the newest member of Bryce’s team, Bill Haas will try to make an impact right away in just his second year at The Masters.
Those are your lineups for the 2011 Masters Tournament. Enjoy the best week that golf has to offer.