The Masters Selections
Its that time of year again, time for the flowers to bloom, the grass to grow and time to take the trip to Augusta for The Masters. Few other events can match the history and pageantry of The Masters and Augusta National Golf Club is arguably the most recognizable course in the U.S. and maybe even the world. Phil Mickelson will defend his 2010 title and look for his fourth green jacket against a superior field that includes the best players from every tour around the world as well as the best amateurs. Tiger Woods is a four time Masters champion and looks to regain the form that saw him win those titles in a place where he is likely more at home than any other course. Lee Westwood leads a field of Euro stars looking to prove their merit on the world stage and players like Fred Couples are here to give it one more run at glory.
Augusta National is a crown jewel of American golf and the course itself is a celebrity. For years, only certain holes were allowed to be televised and 2011 marks the first time that you can play Augusta on a video game. Everyone knows the ins and outs of how the course has changed over the years and yet the famous bridges, creeks and magnolias always seem to mean more than the cards that read: 7,435 yards par-72. Just about every type of player has seen success at Augusta, but the fact remains that the par-5s represent the best scoring opportunities and how a player fares on those holes alone can seal their fate one way or another. The rough is more of a penalty than in years past, but the bombers can still let loose and hack their way on to the greens but thats certainly not all there is to scoring here. The greens are lightning fast and getting up and down to save par is never easy on any hole. Hit it long, find the surface, take advantage of the par-5s and pray everywhere else.
Dustin Johnson +2000
Dustin doesnt have a ton of Masters success with just a T30 as his best finish, but he certainly has the game to attack and conquer the course. Dustin ranks 3rd in driving distance and 20th in greens, so it should be no problem getting birdie looks and his 35th ranked putting average has led to the 2nd best birdie average in 2011 play. If Johnson can handle the rest of the course, he should be able to eat up the par-5s and stay in contention into the weekend.
Luke Donald +2200
Luke hasnt played much in the U.S. this year, but his four starts have produced a win at the Accenture Match Play and two other top-10s. He ran T3 at Augusta in 2005 and has the right mix to be successful here again. Donald currently has the 2nd best birdie or better percentage on the par-5s and is 5th in scrambling. If he keeps up with those kind of numbers against the field this week, he shouldnt have to look up at too many names come Sunday.