Frozen in Time
For one week out of the year the focus of the sports world will be on.............golf??? It's not just any golf tournament, or even any other major. This is the Masters, 'the tradition unlike any other.' Bobby Jones could have never imagined what he was creating when he invited his buddies to play in the first Augusta National Invitational in 1934. This tournament has inspired thousands of young men and women to become professional golfers. Only this tournament could inspire golfers to want to don one of the least fashionable blazers on the planet!
The 2011 edition of Bobby Jones' masterpiece should provide us with another set of indelible moments. Defending champion Phil Mickelson lives for this tournament and is coming in with a ton of momentum. Phil fired a dazzling 63 last Sunday to capture the Shell Houston Open. Four time champion Tiger Woods is always a threat to win despite not seeing the winners circle in over a year and a half. After Tiger and Lefty, there are a number of players who could emerge victorious.
For the first time since the early 90s, the top ten is dominated by Europeans. This foreign invasion is young, hungry, and talented. The Euro's may dominate the world rankings, but they don't traditionally do well at Augusta National. The last European to win the Masters was Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, or Rory McIlroy was the last man standing on Sunday evening.
The Masters is a uniquely American, and the Yankees live for this tournament. A lot of people think Dustin Johnson will finally break through and capture his first Masters. Bubba Waston, Nick Watney, and Hunter Mahan may get some run, but the guy I like hasn't been in too many conversations.
Lately I have had a pension for picking the Masters winner. In 2009 I called Angel Cabrera after the first round. Last year I put a little wager on Lee Westwood before the tournament, and he finished second.
This year I like Matt Kuchar to win it all. Kuchar may be the 10th ranked player in the world but he always seems to fly under everybody's radar. He's not flashy, and there is nothing extraordinary about his game but he is consistent and steady. Even though he hasn't won in 2011 I love the way his game is trending coming into the Masters. He has not missed a cut in eight starts, and he has finished in the top ten in four of his last five tournaments.
Weekend duffers and casual sports fans will be glued to the tube all weekend to see who emerges victorious after the 72 hole free for all. Who knows, perhaps the 2011 Masters will inspire a young golfer to become the 2021 Masters champion.