There are only three first time winners in Masters history and the first two don’t count, Horton Smith and Gene Sarazen in 1934 and 35. Fuzzy won his first time around but other than that you need experience, local knowledge, patience and maybe an Augusta caddy, they know the course better than anyone except maybe Jack. Zach Johnson won his Green Jacket and laid up on every par five; try to get Phil to follow that strategy. What I’m trying to say, Augusta really favors no particular golfer except maybe the long knocker and the great putter but don’t they usually do well at any event.

Only four players have ever won the week before and went on to win the Masters but Phil is still the favorite this week. He has two drivers, a great putter and short game, imagination out the wazoo and “Bones”, a very good caddy who knows his player and the course. Phil has all the tools, momentum, knowledge, experience but whenever he’s had a chance to reach world #1 he falters. Maybe there’s a bit too much pressure this week, we’ll see.

Bubba and D. J. are the exciting picks but all they have is length and maybe a bit of short game. They might top ten but not measured for a jacket. The Europeans are the formidable picks this week. Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Luke Donald are all likeable chances but Augusta demands a bit different golf than they are used to. They’ll be close when we get to the back nine Sunday but not on top at the end. The only sentimental pick with half a chance is Fred Couples but his back and balky putter can’t go four rounds any more.

Here’s who I really like this week. These four guys have the best shot at sipping wine in Butler Cabin Sunday evening. Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney and yes, Tiger Woods are the favorites in my book. Matt’s been golfing his ball for awhile and knows Augusta well. Hunter drives it better than anyone on tour, putts the lights out and can go low anytime. Nick Watney has the all round game, tournament experience is questionable, he only has to know the red light green light holes and pins. I just like Tiger at Augusta, that’s all I have to say.

Dad and I will be watching the Masters all weekend while he recuperates from triple by-pass surgery. I can’t think of a better rehab program for both of us.


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