As I mentioned in my last post, Tiger Woods’ win over the weekend at the Arnold Palmer invitational at Bay Hill has confirmed his position as hot favourite to claim his fifth title at Augusta next weekend, which would put him into outright second for titles won behind Jack Nicklaus.
But Tiger won’t be the only show in town, with a couple of other golfers looking to create their own piece of history.
Can Harrington Claim Another Major?
Padraig Harrington stormed home in the second half of 2008 to defend his British Open title before claiming the U.S PGA just three weeks later. He is now in a position where it is possible for him to hold all four golf majors at the one time, a feat that has been achieved once before by Tiger Woods, and which the press have already christened ‘The Paddy Slam’.
Harrington seems to have grown more comfortable at Augusta over the last two years with a 5th and a 7th place finish to his name. He has had a sluggish start to this season and by his own admission has probably not played as many tournaments as would be ideal before The Masters.
He is trying not to burn himself out too early in the season, preferring to focus more on defending his titles later in the year. His 20th place finish at Doral two weekends ago was a good sign that his game may be coming together at the right time, but he may find it very tough to continue his impressive streak at the majors.
The Great White Shark Back For One More Shot
The other interest story of the tournament will be the return of Greg Norman to Augusta for the first time since 2002. I’m sure Norman has mixed feelings about his relationship with the place – kind of like a girlfriend that keeps screwing you over but you still manage to find an excuse to go back for one more shot at the title.
The Shark is sure to be much more relaxed this time around and hopefully this will allow him to play like he did last year at The British Open. I think the least his fans will be hoping for is for him to make the cut…any more than that will just be icing on the cake.
So Who Are The Contenders?
He has managed to hit some form at the right time with his win a couple of weeks ago at Doral. One of Lefty’s strengths is his short game, which allows him to claw his way out of some tricky situations and is a real asset around Augusta. He has been installed as second favourite, and is the only other player under $10 in the betting
The form golfer so far this year, the unassuming Aussie has proved himself to be the world’s pre-eminent match play golfer and will be looking to further strengthen his reputation as a player who produces his best performances on the big stage.
One of the best ball strikers in the game, the Spaniard is always going to struggle at the majors because the kid can’t putt as indicated by him being ranked outside the top 150 putters on the tour.
He can get away with it in smaller tournaments, but once the heat is on at a major, his flaws are exposed and his technique breaks down all the more. Would need to be close to perfect from tee to green to give himself a chance. He has the length off the tee, and the crisp iron play to do it but it still may not be enough.
The Young Guns
After fantastic seasons in 2008, Camillio Villegas and Anthony Kim are yet to hit their straps in ’09 but both players have the game to match it with the best come Sunday
Who”s Got The Edge In The Stats
If you’re the sort of punter that loves to use stats to help you make you’re decision, then for The Masters you can’t go wrong by looking at who the hot putters are. If you can’t roll the rock you’re going to find it very hard to win on these extremely tricky greens.
Both Mickelson & Ogilvy are ranked in the top 15 for their putting…but then again so is David ‘yep, I’m still playing golf’ Duval. So who knows
I’m going to go with Ogilvy. No Aussie has ever won the green jacket, and Ogilvy represents our best chance by far. Scott and Allenby are both poor putters and no other Aussie has really shown any signs of being in the sort of form needed.
If you are keen for a bet on Ogilvy I just noticed that Canbet have him at $23 at the moment while the other two major bookies have him at $17 – and you can also get yourself up to a $100 free bet when you sign up.
The practice rounds begin on 6th April, with the main event kicking off on the 9th.