It's finally here...Masters Week. Are you already anticipating a memorable Sunday final round like I am? Now there's a lot to take in before we get to Sunday, pre-tournament interviews, expert picks, the par-3 contest, live streaming coverage on http://www.masters.com/, early round coverage on ESPN, along with probably a zillion tweets, countless blogs, and some you tube videos. I hope I can keep up!
I'm terribly jealous of the fact that a few of my golf pals headed to Augusta for the practice rounds this week. I tried to be happy for them, really, I did, but jealousy is a powerful emotion! I hope they got some great photos!!
This week started out slow for me - a nasty cold kept me in bed for 2 days. While dozing on and off yesterday I happened upon Tiger's press conference on ESPN. He seemed in good Tiger spirits and focused to play well this week. I'm sure it's a bit strange for everyone to realize that for the first time in I don't know how long Tiger is not the odds on favorite to win this week. When asked about that, he sort of brushed it off and just said something like it's really him against the course and not everyone else.
Speaking of favorites, it's hard not to ride the wave of Phil's win last week. He showed some spectacular golf on the weekend so I think you just have to believe he's ready to pounce on Augusta come Thursday. My Mom loves Phil, so I know she's going to be glued to the TV for the rest of the week.
But you know I can't go on too much further without bringing up my 2 favorite players...Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar. Stricker seems to be off the radar on everyone's predictions list for this week...except for mine! With all my heart I believe he deserves a Major and I can't think of a better one than this one this week. He had a very respectable T4 finish in Houston last week so I've got to think he's getting his groove on for this week. Go Steve!!
I read somewhere this morning that Kuchar's low trajectory hurts his chances at Augusta. While he's been having another great season to date (6 top 10's in 8 starts), he's not really considered a favorite this week either...but he's a favorite to me! I'm hoping his experience here will help him make the shots that put him in contention come Sunday. Go Matt!!
Nick Watney has definitely moved up my fan favorite list this year - and lots of eyes are going to be on him this week. There is also a lot of buzz around Dustin Johnson and Hunter Mahan...both guys I like, but I'm leaning towards two long ball hitters...Bubba Watson and Alvaro Quiros - both of these guys can bomb it, but don't forget that they've got some good short games, too. If they can keep the ball in play, I'm expecting to see both of them on the first page of the leader board come Saturday.
Freddie is in the field this week and you know he's going to be a crowd favorite. I'm also hoping Davis Love might have a great week, too.
With so many Europeans dominating the world rankings right now you'd think there'd be a little more talk of their chances this week, but as usual, it looks like Phil and Tiger are currently taking up the most air time. Surprisingly, Martin Kaymer, #1 player in the world, doesn't seem to be generating a lot of buzz this week. Lee Westwood also seems to be down the list as people announce their favorites. I'm partial to Luke Donald...I think he's got a chance to sneak in one of the final groups on Sunday.
My brother has picked Anthony Kim as a guy we need on our fantasy team this week...I hope he's right because we picked him! And don't forget some of the amateurs, Peter Uihlein, Nathan Smith, Lion Kim, and David Chung. Will they get to play the weekend?
As I browse the field of 99 players again as I finalize my fantasy golf teams, I realize there are so many more guys we could talk about that have a very legitimate shot at putting on a green jacket come Sunday. And you have to wonder, could this be another surprise finish week for someone who has been overlooked or has been struggling to date and finally gets it all figured out? I don't know, but it's going to be fun to find out.
If you love the Masters at all, I'm sure there are flashes of memories from tournaments gone by that are zipping through your head this week. It's the familiarity, history, and beauty that sweeps back in and makes us remember why we all love this week in golf...no matter who wins.
I hope you love every moment...I know I will.