April 8th 2013 will see the 77th start of the Augusta Masters Tournament, no other golf tournament in the world, grabs the publics attention in the way that the Masters does.
The reason’s behind this are not always obvious, many people put it down to the beauty of the course, which is situated in Atlanta Georgia, others believe that it’s the difficulty of the greens. An obvious fact that is often overlooked, is that of all the Golf Majors, this is the only one that is played on the same course each year.
The natural beauty and difficulty of this course is another major factor, if that was it then it would be a great tournament but the Masters has another trick up it’s sleeve, it invites only the top professional players in the world, then it allows the top amateurs to play alongside these great professionals. Finally you throw in 77 years of history and ceremony and you have all the ingredients for a fantastic tournament.
Who is likely to be donning the Green Jacket on Sunday 14th April 2013?, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory Mcllroy
Padraig Harrington has endured a barren spell, the three time major winner has made some improvements, firstly to his eyesight, he has taken to wearing glasses for the first time in an attempt to read the green’s better. There is no doubt that Padraig has missed out on some major victories with his poor putting, which he puts down to problems with his eyesight. However the tinkering hasn’t stopped there and he has ‘beefed up’ gaining 15 pounds, in an attempt to put more muscle on his frame to give him a more stable base.
Padraig must win the Masters or another major this year or he will need to qualify for next years tournament.
Another name to look out for in this years Event will be Michael Thompson, the golf fans will know that he’s the amateur that called a penalty shot on himself in 2008 and went on to miss the cut. Michael is in his third year on the PGA Tour and he qualified for the Masters by finishing second in the 2012 US Open, in March he won his first PGA Tour event, the Honda Classic, most observers agree that it was his putting that got him there and as everyone knows, if you are going to win at Augusta you have to be able to putt.
British golf fans will probably be putting a few quid on Luke Donald but many other people will certainly be steering clear, despite the fact that he is ranked No 3 in the World rankings. Luke certainly needs to win a major to prove his credentials, he hasn’t done particularly well in the top tournaments. To this end, he has improved his short game and that should stand him in good stead at the Masters.
My favourite long shot has to be Ian Poulter, with three top 10 finishes last year, you just feel that this flamboyant golfer has to break his duck. Ian has come a long way from taking green fees at his local municipal golf course and in the Ryder Cup he breaks American hearts. If he can just bring the desire he shows in the Ryder Cup, into his pursuit of a major, you should be banking your winnings.
Georgia local boy, Russell Henley, could be the outsider to look out for, he won on his first outing as a ‘tour rookie’ to book a place at the Masters. Georgia coach, Chris Haack, is quoted as saying that “he has a knack for winning, he wants to win and it’s hard to teach that, I think he’s got a chance to be pretty special, well worth a bet”.
Tianlang Guan is a 14 year old amateur, he is set to become the youngest ever participant in the Masters, he will play the Par 3 contest with three times Jacket winner Nick Faldo, on April 10th. Nick recently presented the Chinese teenager with a Special Achievement award, celebrating his victory in the 2012 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship, which qualified him for the Masters.
Finally, some long overdue news!, the Augusta National Golf Club has opened it’s membership to women after 80 years. A woman will finally don the cherished Green Jacket, mind you this won’t be open to just any woman, the first two recipients are Condoleezza Rice and financier, Darla Moore. Both women are multimillionaires, as are the majority of the 300 club members.
This is seen as a major step forward and something we Brits should follow sooner rather than later, if we can just convince the Royal and Ancient to move into the modern world and admit women members, wouldn’t that be something!. If you want to place a bet take a look at the full list of odds and various markets at Paddy Power.