Masters Week 2012

The cream of the crop always rises in golf's major championships and nowhere is this more true than at Augusta National for the Masters.  Here are a few interesting notes to help get you prepared for the event:

If you, like me, are filling out a Masters pool keep the following in mind:

  • Phil Mickelson has only finished outside the top 10 in twice in the last 13 years
  • Graeme McDowell, outside his tie for 17th in 2009, has missed the cut in his other three Masters starts
  • Martin Kaymer is 0-for-4 in getting to the weekend at the Masters (despite his Monday hole in one) and Louis Oosthuizen is 0-3 in cuts made
  • Geoff Ogilvy has six Masters starts, has never missed a cut, and counts three top-16 finishes, including a T4 last year
  • Ian Poulter’s T27 in 2011 was his worst showing in the last five years. He tied for 10th in 2010
  • Justin Rose has never missed the cut in six starts at Augusta. He tied for fifth in 2007, was T11 a year ago, and rolls in with a good dose of confidence
  • David Toms has bounced back with three top-24 finishes in his last four starts
  • Lee Westwood has three top-11 finishes in his last four Masters starts, his best showing being a solo runner-up two years ago
  • Remember what Rory McIlroy did through the first 63 holes last year...and how he recovered from that final nine at Congressional
  • Tiger Woods has won one green jacket in the last 10 years. Yet, dating to his last Masters victory in 2005, he has not finished worse than T6.

If I could pick any three golfers I'd have to go with (in this order) Rory, Phil and Tiger (yes, I know I'm going way out on a limb here)! My sleepers would be Cabrera, Ogilvy and KJ...

I am surprised and disappointed that the Augusta powers have failed to extend an invitation to Ernie Els. Ernie is currently playing beautifully, having finished outside the top 20 only once in his last 5 events. He is 34th in the Fedex Cup and ranked 58th in the world. Not to mention that he has often (albeit, not often enough) contended for the green jacket.  Is Ryo Ishikawa really better than the Big Easy? Or does he just command a greater Japanese television audience?

That being said here is the FIELD and how they qualified.

Full TV Schedule (information found at Masters.com)

Par 3 contest

Wednesday, April 4 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on ESPN

First-round coverage

Thursday, April 5 from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Second-round coverage

Friday, April 6 from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Third-round coverage

Saturday, April 7 at 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on CBS

Final-round coverage

Sunday, April 8 at 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on CBS

As always the premium at Augusta is on the shortgame. Here is Geoff Ogilvy talking about the two toughest chips that almost all golfers will face during the week:

One of the toughest chips you can face on the course is from right of the 11th green, a spot where it seems at least one player in every group is playing from during the tournament. Bailing out away from the water is very tempting but no bargain. It is almost impossible to land a chip short on that green with any confidence; you just don’t know what the ball is going to do after it pitches. Then when it does get on the green it invariably races away. It’s such a subtle test, but one that gives the course much of its character.

The same is true behind the 15th green. It is so difficult to judge how much forward momentum the ball will have after it bounces and how fast it needs to be moving once it gets onto the sloping putting surface. And again, it is a shot that tends to come up a lot over the course of the tournament. Go for that green in two every day and you are likely to finish over the back at least twice.

Having had the opportunity to play both of these chip shots I can second his thoughts. I would almost always go for the front portion of the green at 11 rather than bail out right - water or not. Very tough approach from the right side there.

Here are a few sites that do a fantastic job covering the event:

GolfDigest.com

GeoffShackelford.com

Golf.com

Golfweek.com

To see unique photographs from a few of my previous visits to Augusta National click HERE and HERE

Have a fantastic week and enjoy the golf!

Rory is Number 1!

Welcome to the future because you're going to be seeing this face for a long time. Did it not seem like a lifetime ago that Rory and Rickie Fowler battled it out for Rookie of the Year honors on the PGATour? How far this young superstar has come - and how far can he go? Was this weekend perhaps a changing of the guard? Similar to the US Open at Cherry Hills when Jack (the future) defeated Ben (the past) and Arnie (the present) in an epic battle. In my opinion I believe this young man is going to rule the world of golf for many years to come. To the tune of 6-8 lifetime majors!

Here is an in depth look inside Rory's bag of Titleist clubs- no matter what golf clubs you happen to play, I think you'll find something of note. I was interested to see that he has only three wedges and he has separates them by 6 degrees - 48-54-60. The same as what I carry in my bag and apparently not a bad way to select your wedges (Stay away from the 60 degree one with 4 degrees of bounce though!). I also noted that he has used the same shaft in his driver since 2008. How many of us can say that?

Enjoy the future folks...

The Open Championship 2011 Royal St. Georges

My favorite tournament of the year is finally here.  If I had one event I could win it would be the Open Championship - I just love the effects of the weather and the truly brilliant golf courses on the Open rota.  

Last time at St. Georges Ben Curtis was the grateful recipient of Thomas Bjorn's untimely demise in a greenside bunker.  By the way - has anybody seen or heard from Mr. Bjorn since that fateful day?

This year I really like the chances of the young guns and were I a betting man I would have a hard time going against these five:

Rory McIlroy - Golf's new golden boy.  He simply must be on everybody's shortlist of champion golfer candidates.  After the dominant showing at Congressional and last years showing at St. Andrews and this year at Augusta...you get the picture.

Louis Oosthuizen - Not sure why I like him as he hasn't done much in the year since holding the Claret Jug (top 10 at the US Open), but I just feel he'll be inspired to be playing major championship links golf.

Rickie Fowler - a stellar showing at last years Open Championship after a horrible opening round.  He is due for something good to happen...

Dustin Johnson - he's got to show up at some point this year in a major right?  I believe he'll come from out of nowhere to challenge this week.

Charl Schwartzel - okay I know I have two young South Africans on my list, maybe I'm biased, but who can argue with this pick.  A win and a top 10 in majors thus far this year.....I look for the bantamweight to be there come Sunday!

We can only hope for similar weather to last year - firm, fast and a stiff breeze off the Dover coast.  I love it!

Tee Times and Pairings

What fabulous terrain for a golf course! Just watching the Open Championship inspires me to take a golf break and get out and play some links golf. There is no better style of golf to play.  Enjoy!

If you are interested in playing a few of the Open Championship courses check out - Golf Breaks UK

Read more about the Open Championship....