Hello friends. It’s that time of year again, where we drive down Magnolia Lane, relive the past triumphs and tragedies, and spend a glorious four days in the fantasy that is The Masters Tournament. Yes, The Masters Tournament goes far beyond being just another golf tournament, or even just another major. The Masters Tournament is a special time when every golfer and golf fan can come together and appreciate one of the greatest sporting events on Earth, on the greatest course on Earth. Augusta National Golf Club is far more than just another golf course. Each of it’s 18 holes holds different memories for different golf fans. Whether it be Tiger’s impossible chip-in on the 16th hole in 2005, or Phil’s 6-iron from the pine straw on 13 at the 2010 Masters, each golf fan has a different set of fond memories that make The Masters truly rise above the rest. As for the professionals, if you have never really arrived as a great player until you’ve won a major, then you’ve never really become a legend until you’ve won the Masters. But looking beyond all of Augusta National’s beauty and elegance, there is also a golf tournament to be played this week, and major fantasy points on the line. This is Spreadsheet Fantasy’s 2012 Masters Tournament roster preview.
Brent – “Must win” is a term that is used far too often in sports, so I won’t use it to describe Brent’s team. That being said, this team needs a major jump start to get back into contention. Although he’s actually far closer to the lead right now than he was at this time last year(420 points behind as opposed to 595), the league is on a tear and it seems like Brent’s team has gotten left behind. A Luke Donald win or even a top five with his Osicki Explosion would go a long way towards erasing the deficit, but Brent also needs Adam Scott and K.J. Choi to start pulling their weight as keepers. It also won’t help Brent’s cause that Ernie Els didn’t make it into the field, as Els has been playing some of his best golf in a long long time. Here’s the breakdown of Brent’s roster:
- Luke Donald(Osicki) – Luke Donald has had mixed success over the years at Augusta National. He missed the cut in both 2010 and 2008, but finished T3, T10, and T4 in 05, 07 and 11 respectively. He comes into the tournament having won his last start and finishing in the top ten the week before. The glaring hole on Donald’s resume is that he’s never been able to win a major, but with how he’s played over the last year and a half, this is as good a time as any to put an end to that.
- Adam Scott – Brent is hoping that Adam Scott can have a repeat performance of last year, when he finished in a tie for second with fellow Aussie Jason Day. Scott has made the cut in 8 of his 10 Masters appearances, but last year was the first time since 2002 that he even cracked the top 15. He’s had decent results so far this season, but he’ll need to get back on track this week, as his record at Augusta is less than stellar.
- K.J. Choi – Choi is as steady as they come, and it’s that consistency that has caused him to enjoy back to back top 10 finishes at the Masters in 2010 and 11. The best finish of Choi’s career came back in the 2004 Masters, where he placed third. Choi has yet to crack the top ten in five starts this season, but his play at Augusta over the past two years means he cannot be counted out.
- Sang-Moon Bae – Sang-Moon Bae has never played in the Masters, and until this year he had made just one of six cuts in PGA Tour sanctioned tournaments. That doesn’t really mean much now though, as Bae has top five finishes in two of his last five starts. Not much can be expected of a first-timer at Augusta, but Bae should make the top 50 with little trouble.
- Peter Hanson – This is where Brent really wishes that Ernie Els was playing this week. Hanson has played the Masters just once(a missed cut in 2011), and has not enjoyed much success in majors over the course of his career. Although he has a pair of top fives in both WGC events so far this year, Hanson would be a long-shot to contend.
Beast – Sixth place is not where most people would have envisioned Beast at the beginning of the season. With a strong veteran core of Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk, the outlook on Beast’s season was that he would be a contender with one of his top players in the field nearly every week. That’s not how it has panned out so far for our league’s eldest member. Although he is tied for the league lead with 14 top tens, he has yet to register a win(although Stricker did win the season opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions before the SSF season began). Anything less than 150 points at Augusta will be a disappointment for Beast, as his roster looks just about as good as any this week.
- Steve Stricker – Stricker has never enjoyed too much success at the Masters, having finished in the top ten just twice in eleven starts, but a sixth place finish in 2009 and 11th place last year shows that he has the will to compete at Augusta National. He also comes into this week with top tens in 2 of his five starts so far. It’s hard to think of a player more likable than Steve Stricker, and for him to win his first major this week would be a story that everyone could appreciate.
- Matt Kuchar – There’s only one player who’s more likable than Matt Kuchar, and that would be the aforementioned Stricker. Kooch doesn’t have much experience at Augusta(he’s played it just three times), but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone more consistent than Kooch. He’s riding a wave of three straight top tens, and it would not be a surprise to see him get another one this week.
- Jason Day – Nobody seems to be talking about Jason Day coming into this week, despite the fact that he was a runner up last year, and has finished inside the top 20 in his last three starts of the 2012 season. Jason Day is a scary player when he’s on his game, and with a debut second place finish last year, SSF is eager to see what he can do for an encore.
- Jim Furyk(Osicki) – Furyk only has one top ten finish this season, but that’s enough to warrant an Osicki in Beast’s mind. Furyk has finished in the top 15 in 7 of his 15 trips to Augusta, with four top tens. He only has one top ten so far this year, but two other top 15’s and he has been playing more like he did in 2010 than 2011.
- Bo Van Pelt – BVP as he is affectionately called, has been a top ten machine throughout the first third of the season, registering top tens in four of his last five starts. Many of you will recall that he also finished in the top ten at the Masters last year, with a red hot final round. It’s a bit of a stretch to say he can win it, but BVP is always a threat to steal himself a top ten, and in a major that’s a lot of points.
Lawrence – Like his two best players, Lawrence will be making his Masters debut this week. Lawrence has performed admirably so far in his rookie season, sitting in fifth place and on pace for a respectable 36 top tens. His roster this week may not look as strong as some of the others, but looks can be deceiving. He has an interesting mix of Masters first-timers and veterans, and it will be interesting to see which group dominates this week. Knowing Lawrence’s competitive nature, he won’t be satisfied with fifth place, but he is still 100 behind fourth and 205 behind third. A big week this week could be the first step towards closing that gap.
- Keegan Bradley – Bradley will be teeing it up for the first time at the Masters, but he already has a major championship under his belt. This means he knows how to handle pressure and what needs to happen to win a major. He’s played plenty of practice rounds so he should be mentally ready to go once he hits the course, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to withstand the pressure of the biggest Sunday in golf.
- Webb Simpson – He has a respectable two top tens so far this year, but last year’s phenom has been largely overlooked in the early going. Like Bradley, Simpson will also be making his first start at Augusta. Being overlooked may be a good thing for Webb, as there won’t be nearly as much pressure on him once the tournament starts.
- Vijay Singh – While he has missed his last two cuts at the Masters, Vijay Singh was an absolutely dominant force there in the early 2000’s. From 2000 to 06 he won the Masters once and finished in the top ten five other times. He also went nine straight years without finishing outside the top 20. While the glory days of Vijay seem to be coming to an end, that kind of dominance of a course has to be taken into consideration when evaluating someone’s chances.
- Kevin Na – Kevin Na’s history at the Masters is not a pretty one. He’s 0 for 2 on cut’s made, and has had a very up and down start to the season. Combining his inconsistency so far this year, and his poor record at Augusta, it’s hard to imagine Na being in contention.
- Miguel Angel Jimenez – While Miguel Angel Jimenez may be the most entertaining golfer in the world, to say that he can win this week would be foolish. The last time Miguel registered a top ten at the Masters, the Crypt Commandments were still law and Fuchs was being carted out of the gym on a stretcher. Miguel Angel Jimenez may have another top 25 in him, but contending would be a stretch.
Bryce –It’s hard to believe this is the same team that went 36 straight weeks without a win. He’s already doubled his win total from last season, and with Tiger playing well again, it’s pretty apparent that his goal is ‘worst to first’. Although his team has actually disappointed somewhat so far this year, he still sits solidly in fourth place, and could make quite a move if Tiger can win this week.
- Tiger Woods(Osicki) – No one will be surprised if Tiger wins this week. In his last 15 starts at Augusta, Woods has finished in the top five ten times, in the top ten three others, and won the tournament four times. Although he hasn’t won it since 2005, he managed to finish in the top 5 each of the past two years, despite a broken swing and his personal troubles. Don’t be surprised to wake up Monday morning and see Bryce’s name one, two or even three spots higher on the leaderboard.
- Bill Haas – Bill Haas has done little since his win at Riviera seven weeks ago, and has had little success in his first two starts at Augusta. He’s already broken through plenty on the PGA Tour, now he just needs to prove he can do it in majors.
- Martin Laird – The long-hitting Scot finished in a tie for 20th in his first trip to the Masters last year. Since his red-hot start to the 2011 season, Laird has cooled off significantly, and has just one top ten so far this year. Augusta is built for the bombers, but Laird was playing far better this time last year, and a repeat of that top 25 shouldn’t be expected.
- Gary Woodland – Much like Laird, Gary Woodland did well at his debut last year, also finishing in the top 25. Also like Laird, Woodland was playing far better at this time last year than he is now, as he has yet to register even a top fifteen so far this season. With the shape that his game is in, it will be tough for him to compete this week.
- Aaron Baddeley – Aaron Baddeley has completely turned his game around in the last couple of years, and the statistics certainly show it. Despite having made just three of six cuts in his Masters career, Baddeley is a talented player who is capable of getting hot at any tournament. With that being said, a top 25 finish is the most likely outcome for Baddeley this week, but a couple of low rounds could put him into the top ten.
Dave – Despite setting the record for fewest top tens last year, Dave came back this season more determined than ever. Thanks to a hugely successful garage sale last season, Dave stockpiled picks and came out with a great draft. Charl Schwartzel and Zach Johnson have been steady, and Sergio Garcia looks to be on the cusp of realizing his potential. Despite how good his draft was, his keepers have been even better, amassing more points than any other keepers except Fuchs’. With the recent success that his keepers have been having, Dave decided that it was time to go all out, pulling the trigger on all three of his Osickis! Depending on the results, this may be one of the single greatest weeks, or the single biggest flame out the league has seen since the infamous Padraig Harrington Osickis of 2010.
- Lee Westwood(Osicki) – Lee Westwood has never won a major, but he has finished in the top 3 five of the last nine majors that he’s played in. Over his career, he hasn’t enjoyed huge success at the Masters, but he has finished inside the top 11 three of the last four years, and that’s all Dave needs to know. There aren’t many more solid players when it comes to majors than Westwood, but he just hasn’t been able to break through with that first win.
- Bubba Watson(Osicki) – Bubba Watson didn’t do much at the majors last year, but then again he didn’t do much at any tournament other than his two wins. This will be his fourth start at Augusta National, and he’s finished in the top 50 each of the other three, but has failed to sneak into the top 10. He’s playing great golf so far this year, and this may be the year he gets that first top ten.
- Justin Rose(Osicki) – Rose is off to one of the best starts of any golfer on tour this year, and his win at the Cadillac Championship showed it. He’s second in points, behind only Hunter Mahan, and finished in a tie for 11th at last year’s Masters. If Rose is going to win himself a major, now seems like as good a time as any to do so.
- Charl Schwartzel – Not often do you see three Osickis used in one week, and the defending champion left out of the fun. Schwartzel will just have to earn his points the old fashioned way. The talented South African followed up two top five finishes with two goose eggs, but he hasn’t finished outside of the top 20 in the last seven majors he’s played in. I’d say there’s a pretty good chance he makes it eight.
- Sergio Garcia – It wasn’t too long ago that Sergio Garcia was the next big thing in golf. He has 17 top 10 finishes in majors, so he’s very capable of playing in big situations. Although he hasn’t done well at Augusta since the early 2000s, but top tens at the U.S. and British Opens last year are a sign that he’s on the right track.
James –This is the first time in a while that the two time defending SSF champion finds himself anywhere but first on the leaderboard. Despite a great start to the season, including three wins and 13 top tens, Fuchs has just outplayed him. However, the Masters seems like the perfect place to take back the lead, with three time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, and defending U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy riding the Osicki wave. He won’t be fielding the greatest lineup this week, but if one or both of his flagship players can find the top ten, it will be a successful first major for James.
- Phil Mickelson(Osicki) – Lefty has won three green jackets, finished in the top ten 11 of the last 13 years, and already has a win and two other top fives so far this season. Say what you want about Phil, but when it comes to Augusta, he always manages to find another gear. He may not be the favorite to win this week, but he is certainly sure to contend.
- Rory McIlroy(Osicki) – He may not have won last year, but the fact that McIlroy lead the tournament for three straight days shows that he can play Augusta. In his five worldwide starts this year, McIlroy has yet to finish outside of the top five, and he managed to hold off Tiger to win on the PGA Tour for the third straight year, at the Honda Classic. Rory is firing on all cylinders right now, and anything less than a top five this week would be a disappointment.
- Nick Watney – It’s been a rough start to the season for Nick Watney, with just one top ten in seven starts. His record at Augusta is solid, with three top 20 finishes in four starts. Watney is one of the better putters on tour, and he’ll need all his putting prowess to master the greens if he’s going to find the top ten this week.
- Kyle Stanley – Kyle Stanley doesn’t have much of a major resume, and he’s never played the Masters, but he has had a pretty remarkable start to the season. After his blown lead at the Farmer’s Insurance Open, he came right back the next week and took home the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Contending may be a bit much to ask of him in his first Masters appearance, but expect him to be competing for a spot in the top 25 or possibly higher.
- Geoff Ogilvy – He has had a poor start to the season, but Ogilvy’s record at the Masters has been decent over the years, and he tied for fourth in last years event. Expectations are not that high for Ogilvy this week, but with a U.S. Open title under his belt, he could certainly get hot this week.
Fuchs – And finally we come to the leader. It was said many times before the season that for Fuchs to contend, his keepers would need to stand on their heads. That’s exactly what they did, as the three of them have earned just 55 points less than Fuchs’ other seven players so far this season. Hunter Mahan looks like he’s gunning for a 4 or 5 win season, and with the way he’s driving the ball, I’m not so sure anyone can stop him. Brandt Snedeker also started hot, but has tailed off slightly over the last few weeks. When you combined Fuchs’ solid keepers with a resurgent Graeme McDowell, Johnson Wagner playing the best golf of his career, and John Senden steady as always, you get a true first place team.
- Hunter Mahan – For all the success that Hunter Mahan has had over the last few years, it’s astounding that none of it seems to carry over to the majors. Although he turned in nine top ten finishes last year, none of them came in the four majors, and he missed the cut in three of them. That being said, he has finished in the top ten twice at Augusta in 2009 and 10, but missed the cut last year. He’s mastered the World Golf Championships, and if Hunter Mahan can get the hang of playing in the majors, he could see his world ranking go even higher.
- Brandt Snedeker – Snedeker has cooled off from his hot start to the season, but he’s the kind of player who can post a top ten at any time. He finished third at Augusta back in 2008, and his game fits the course well. If Snedeker can do well this week, Fuchs could see his lead grow quite a bit.
- Graeme McDowell – McDowell won the U.S. Open in 2010, but hasn’t done much in the majors since then. Although he has a couple of top tens so far this season, his record at Augusta National is forgettable, and coming off of a missed cut at the Shell Houston Open, it would be a surprise to see him near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend.
- John Senden – John Senden seems to fly under the radar quite a bit, as proven by the fact that pretty much every SSF member other than Dave wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a lineup. He’s playing good golf right now, with three top tens so far this season, but in both tries at the Masters, he has missed the cut. I can’t see him missing it a third time, and anything more than a top 25 would be welcome.
- Martin Kaymer – Kaymer has certainly not been playing his best golf so far this year, and the fact that he’s missed the cut each of the last four years is something to be concerned about. His fade oriented game does not suit Augusta well, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see him miss the cut for the fifth straight year
Well gentlemen, that is the Masters Tournament roster preview. I hope you’re all looking forward to getting the first major of the year underway on Thursday Morning. Enjoy.