Tuesday 03, April 2012
The US Masters 2012
THE start of the first major of the golfing season will see the world's top players arrive at Augusta National in Gerogia - home of The Masters, home of the green jacket.
It is such a unique and beautiful course, with its backdrop of towering pines, azaleas and dogwoods around the greens, most notably around Amen Corner, where this fine championship can be won or lost.
There’s no denying that the biggest talking point coming into this year’s tournament is the return to form of Tiger Woods. After all his personal and physical troubles of the last few years, he seems to finally be in a place mentally where he can concentrate on what he does best, play golf.
Just nine days ago, Woods (pictured) won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the seventh time, coming home five shots clear of the field. It was all there. The red shirt, the fist pumps, the roars of the crowd, and the swagger we haven’t seen for a long time.
Woods won’t have it all his own way though. There’s the heir apparent, Rory McIlroy. The young man from Holywood, Northern Ireland, blew a four shot lead in the final round here last year. He did however, banish that demon in emphatic fashion at the US Open with a commanding eight shot victory.
And there are a whole host of other players on cue and in form, ready to take to the course, most notably world number one Luke Donald. Fresh off the back of his Transitions win, where he reclaimed the top ranking from McIlroy, who held it for two weeks after his Honda Classic win at the start of March.
Phil Mickelson, whose Masters record speaks for itself with three victories in the last eight years, is in great form himself this year, with a win, a second place finish, and tied-fourth at the weekend.
Lee Westwood would love to break his major duck here after coming second in 2010, and coming so close to that elusive first major on several occasions in the last few years.
Graham McDowell, who pushed Woods for half of the final round in the Arnold Palmer, and who beat Woods in his own event in 2010, seems to be returning to the form which saw him win that year’s US Open.
Other notable players this week include major winners, Keegan Bradley, and defending champion Charl Schwartzel. Maybe to a lesser extent, but another exciting young player, big-hitter Kyle Stanley - who won his first PGA Tour event this year - promises to be well suited to the demands of this fantastic course.
There are about 10 players who could really push an in-form Woods this week. The current crop of players seem to have overcome the fear of Tiger that others may have had in the past.
With the current wet weather in Augusta at the minute and the threat of rain for the first two days, the big-hitters might just have an early advantage. No matter what the weather though, I’m sure we are in for four days of sheer excitement and drama, and with so many players seemingly coming into the week in good form, we might just witness an epic.
By Brian Cruickshank
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