“A tradition unlike any other.”
The well-known Jim Nantz line is the only appropriate way that I could conceive starting out any article that previews the cherished tradition that is The Masters.
Spring is just beginning to bloom, while March Madness brackets and fantasy baseball drafts have drawn us all out from our long winter’s nap. However, even in the midst of NFL trade rumors, NCAA Final Fours, and the start of the new MLB season, there is just something indescribably captivating about The Masters.
What event, when faced with such stiff competition from other sports that dominate America’s viewership on an annual basis, could thrive in such a glorious fashion?
The answer: “A tradition unlike any other,” naturally.
So what will the 2012 version bring us? Quite frankly, 2012 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting Masters in recent memory.
2012 Masters Schedule Viewing Info
- 2012 Masters Practice Rounds: April 2-4
- 2012 Masters Par 3 Contest: April 4
- 2012 Masters Dates: April 5-8
- 2012 Masters Thursday-Friday TV: Live ESPN coverage starts at 3:00 pm ET
- 2012 Masters Saturday-Sunday TV: Live CBS coverage starts at 3:00 pm ET
- 2012 Masters Online Viewing: Live viewing available on Masters.com throughout weekend
2012 Masters Preview
Phil Mickelson has opened up the season in top form, earning a victory at Pebble, followed by a playoff loss the next week at the Northern Trust Open.
Newly crowned world #1 Rory McIlroy seems poised to be the first golfer in a while capable of holding that spot for the better part of the next decade. Considering the fact that he is just 22 years of age, it would mark the first time we have seen the likes of that since…
Oh right. Tiger.
Speaking of Tiger, who just happens to be coming fresh off of a dominating 5-shot victory at Bay Hill, a possible breakthrough win that ended a 923 day victory drought, it’s safe to say we might have a bit of a golf tournament brewing.
Here is a preview of the field for the 2012 Masters, plus a prediction for who will don the green jacket on Sunday.
It’s safe to say: Red is back.
Breaking through this weekend at Bay Hill could not have come at a better time for Tiger, heading into one of his most hyped tournaments in recent memory. The key statistics are simple. Tiger has not finished outside the top 15 in any stroke play event in which he has completed this year, and he is returning to a course at which even during his last few “down” seasons he has placed 6th, 4th, and 4th respectively.
Everyone in the field is going to be sensing the return of Woods’ dominating presence, and a win this week could set in motion the history making we’ve all been waiting for.
The previously mentioned McIlroy is a mere 22 years old, but he is ready to shine on the big stage.
In his three PGA Tour events this season the ultra-talented Irishman has finished 2nd, 1st, and 3rd. With his near flawless swing drawing rave reviews from players and fans alike, the emergence of the first true young superstar since Tiger himself could set up one of the greatest rivalries the sport has seen for the next 5 years.
To be honest, putting Phil on the contender list is almost simply out of respect to quite possibly one of the most genuinely nicest guys that you will ever be able to meet.
I truly believe that the golfing world is Tiger and Rory’s right now, and the rest of the guys are simply the chase pack. However, it is Augusta, and Phil has been sharp in the early going. If he can get his putter going, and ride the magic of Augusta to yet another green jacket, it would not surprise me in the least.
The promising youngster has been playing some of the best golf on Tour as of late, and if this was the 2011 Master’s field, rather than 2012, I would have declared him the favorite to win the tournament. Instead, the blossoming 25-year old who hasn’t finished outside the Top 22 in any of the 8 events he has entered this season has been relegated to the chase pack. And what a force he could be.
4th in the tour in scoring average, the only chink in his armor is he hasn’t been able to produce exceptional rounds on the weekend. One big weekend from the pin-seeker could be all he needs to find himself atop of the leaderboard
Another amazingly consistent performer so far this season, Watson has not finished outside the top 18 in any tournament in which he has entered this season. The difference has been his ability to harness the power of his monstrous driving skill.
If you have watched Watson at all this season, it has been amazing to see how he has turned 7,400 yard courses into his personal pitch and putt stomping grounds. More than 40% of all of his tee shots travel further than 320 yards. If Bubba can consistently keep turning 508 yard par 4s into Driver-Pitching Wedge holes for himself, he must be considered in any Masters conversation.
After back-to-back top 10 Masters finishes in 2009 and 2010, the ultra-talented Mahan would be more on the Masters radar if not for his MC at Augusta last year. However, his win at the Match Play Championships a few weeks ago automatically makes him someone to watch for to make noise late into this weekend.
The Chunked Flops
The 6’2 easy-going Aussie always seems to be in the conversation come major-tournament time, especially after his T-4 at Augusta in 2011. However, Ogilvy has been struggling to produce viable results on a consistent basis, and he has sporadic driving of the golf ball to blame for his lack of success. Hitting only 58% of your fairways just won’t cut it at Augusta, and it seems like it might take a few extra months before Ogilvy rounds back into major championship contending form.
Despite his top-10 finish to kick off his season at the Tournament of Champions, Rory has spiraled quickly downhill thereafter. Coupled with the fact that Augusta National and he haven’t been able to get along in recent memory (he is 15 over par there in the past two years) it is safe to say Sabbatini should be avoided in all household fantasy golf competitions.
2012 Masters Prediction
And the winner will be….Rory McIlroy.
People have forgotten too quickly about his dominant performance at the US Open less than a year ago, and it is Rory’s time to shine at Augusta. No one in the world is playing better golf than Rory right now, and he has the best swing on the planet on his side.
I am impressed by the way he has held up through the pressure of being thrust into the #1 ranking (and consequently the golfing world spotlight) and my prediction is that he will survive a final group pairing with Woods on Sunday to capture his first of many green jackets at Augusta.