The Azaleas and Dogwoods are in full bloom in Augusta, Georgia and that means its Masters week. The PGA Tour season is nearly half over and this is the first major championship of the year.
Who does not like Jordan Spieth this week at Augusta National? He finished runner-up last year and battled eventual winner, Bubba Watson in the final round. He is the hottest player on tour right now with a win and two runner-up finishes in his last three starts. His game appears to be in the perfect place to capture his first Green Jacket this week.
Rory McIlroy is No. 1 in the world and is the biggest story this week, as he is attempting to complete a career grand slam. McIlroy won the final two majors of 2014, but has not performed his best thus far in the U.S. Will this be the week he kicks it into high gear and adds another gem to his trophy cabinet?
Patrick Reed attended nearby Augusta State and is very familiar with Augusta National’s humps and bumps. He is fourth in the FedEx Cup race and won earlier in the year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He also collected a runner-up at the Valspar, losing in a playoff to Spieth. Reed has the game and the attitude to do well at the Masters this week.
Adam Scott has been very quiet thus far in 2015. The experiment with the short putter is over for the time being and he retrieved the long-putter from his garage this week. He won the 2013 Masters with it, can he do it again?
My dark horse for the Masters may be somewhat of a surprise. Since winning everything in 2011, Luke Donald has changed coaches, swings and his attitude. His problem has been trying to hit the ball farther to keep up with the young guys and it made him less consistent. He has the short game to compete on Augusta National’s treacherous greens and an errant drive or two will not wreck his score.
I do not see Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson being contenders this week and their values are too high. If you are looking for a good value in a veteran player, Ernie Els may be your guy. His putting can be suspect at times and Augusta National does not suffer poor putting gladly, but he still has the length and accurate iron play to keep the ball in the right spots on the greens to leave low-risk putts. Els needs a Masters on his Hall-of-Fame resume. Could this be his year?
Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker may all contend this week. From this list, Day and Kuchar may have the best chances of donning the Green Jacket on Sunday evening.
Whoever wins will have had a memorable week at one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.