There are not many people walking the planet who are physically capable of winning The Masters. This year only 99 of the world’s best players are even invited to the tournament. The odds of a person winning are less than one in a 10 million.
And, still, every golfer who picks up a club dreams of having a chance. Even the 20+ handicaps sit on the putting green and pronounce, “This one’s for the green jacket folks,” before stroking a five-footer. Winning The Masters is simply the ultimate single-tournament achievement in golf.
Here are five players who could make this week one they’ll never forget.
Bubba Watson – If you’re looking for the best American golfer you need look no further than this tall, lefty with an unorthodox swing. Even with Mickelson’s win at the Valero Texas Open, Watson remains the best U.S. golfer in the 2011 season. He has one victory, two top 10s and four top 25s. He’s also a very similar player in style to Mickelson, who has won this event three times. He’ll be able to bomb his long tee shots all over the course map without facing ridiculous penalties. He turned in a runner-up finish at the last major championship of 2010 and might be ready to break through this week.
Rory McIlroy – Not many people are talking about Rory this week but he’s shown he’s equipped with the game to go low at major championships. Remember the 63 to open at the British Open last year? McIlroy hasn’t been playing PGA Tour events this year and he seems to have slipped under the radar. Don’t forget his convincing win at Quail Hollow last year. He’s more accomplished and ready than other young guys on tour like Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa. One of these weeks, McIlroy is going to vault himself back to the top of the sport. It could be Masters Week.
Tiger Woods – He owns four green jackets and at some point he will amass one or two more. The decision to go with Sean Foley as his swing coach was driven by one goal – get back to winning major championships. His long win drought and all the golf struggles will fade away if he wins this week. When Tiger was the Tiger that dominated, nothing could break his mental will. I love parity in the sport, but it would be fun to see some of the old Tiger with a new swing that works for him this week. Remember, even after all the chaos that was his personal life from November 09 to April 2010 – Woods finished T4 last year. He knows Augusta, and that always gives him a chance.
Phil Mickelson – Mickelson has made himself the favorite with his win at last week’s Tour stop in Texas. The defending champion and most recent winner on the PGA Tour? You’re not going to get much protest from any of us. Our only concern is that it’s hard to win at Augusta in back-to-back years – Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus are the only three to do it. Mickelson will be a fan favorite all weekend and who doesn’t hope he keeps his strong play going?
Dustin Johnson – Johnson made a name for himself last year by coming bitterly close to winning major championships without succeeding. This is his first chance at redemption since Bunker Gate in Wisconsin. He’s show incredible resiliency over his young career but his game hasn’t been in top condition as of late. He has a tendency for showing up at the big ones though – and that makes DJ a real threat.