Tiger Woods will win this year’s Masters.
He is the No. 1 ranked player in the world. In all but two tournaments in which he has competed in this season, Woods has been more than 10 under par. He has a first and second-place finish in his last three tournaments.
He finished second at the Genuity Championship on March 3 and won the Bay Hill Invitational on March 17.
The revamped Augusta National Golf Club course will only play into Woods’ favor. The added distance will give Woods more of an opportunity to exploit his distance advantage over the rest of the field.
Woods has always been a prime-time player when it comes to the majors. He is the only player in the history of golf to win four majors consecutively. He will be only the third player in history to repeat as the Masters champion. That should be motivation for him to play his best.
Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, and Jose Maria Olazabal are the top contenders this year. Woods has the same number of career wins in the majors as Els, Singh and Olazabal combined. Woods is simply too dominant in majors, and this year’s Masters will be no different.
Since the course has been torn up and rearranged, Augusta is no longer the same course on which Tiger blew everybody away by 12 strokes in 1997.
It won’t be the forest of weeds you see in the British Open, but Masters’ officials have lengthened the rough, helping the players who keep their drives straighter than Tiger.
Tiger hasn’t putted well this year, and Augusta has been notorious for its fast greens before they made them tougher this year. Ben Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion, put it this way, “Put your ball on the edge of a bathtub and try to putt it within a foot of the drain.”
There are also other players who wouldn’t mind sliding into the green jacket Sunday.
Jose Maria Olazabal, victor in 1994 and 1999, has six top 10 finishes this year. Chris DiMarco finished 10th last year and is the Tour’s top putter.
Speaking of avenging last year, David Duval went into the back nine on Sunday tied with Tiger and built a two-stroke on 16. Going for the kill, Duval proceeded to ask for a little Scotch with his water and bogied. Tiger birdied, leaving the two tied going into 17. The rest is history.
Other threats include 2000 winner Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and, of course, Lefty (Phil Mickelson).
What this all adds up to is that it is somebody else’s turn to don the green linings other than Mr. Woods.