April 5, 2010
Arguably the biggest event in golf is this weekend. It's the Masters. Being originally from Augusta, Ga, I've been to the Masters several times, and it's certainly worth going if you get the opportunity.
returns to competitive golf, after an "ahem" difficult
time away. Ernie Els is playing his best golf in years and Phil Mickelson
is always one to keep an eye on.
Who are the top 10 contenders in this year's Masters?
1. Ernie Els
I wouldn't call Ernie Els an overwhelming favorite. The field is as wide open as it's been in over a decade, but Els seems to have found his game again. He won twice in March with wins at the WGC-CA Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
We know he can play at Augusta National. He had five consecutive top-six finishes from 2000-2004. If he doesn't put to much pressure on himself, which Els has a tendency to do, he'll contend because the game is there.
Odds of winning: 4 to 1
2. Anthony Kim
Anthony Kim is so close to becoming the next great American player. He held off Vaughn Taylor in a playoff to win this week's Shell Houston Open. Kim is a confident player, and I like players who come into the majors playing well. Last year he set the record for 11 birdies in a round at the Masters. He has a great shot at the title this year.
Odds of winning: 6 to 1
3. Phil Mickelson
Mickelson has a sterling record at Augusta National. Since 1999 he's finished outside the top-10 just one time, and is a two-time Masters winner. He hasn't played particularly well this year, with only one top-10 finish, but Augusta seems to cure any ills Mickelson has with his game.
Odds of winning: 8 to 1
4. Lee Westwood
Most people say Sergio Garcia is the best player in the world never to win a major; I think it might be either Lee Westwood or Steve Stricker. He's placed third at the BritishOpen and PGA Championship last year, so he's come close recently. Westwood is playing well too.
He's had two top-10 finishes in four PGA events this year. His results at Augusta haven't been spectacular, but neither was Vijay Singh's before he won the Masters in 2000.
Odds of winning 12 to 1
5. Jim Furyk
One of these days, Jim Furyk is going to win another a major to go along with that U.S. Open title. He's just too good a player. He won earlier this year at the Transitions Championship. He's not terribly long off the tee, but he can putt and his wedge game is one of the best on tour. He had a top-10 finish last year.
Odds of winning: 15 to 1
6. Tiger Woods
Woods is best player of this generation. He's a four time Masters champion, and hasn't finished outside the top 10 in Augusta since 2004. I just think he's spent too much time away from competitive golf, and too much time on his personal issues. If anyone can win despite all the off the course issues, Tiger can, but I really don't see it happening.
Odds of winning: 20 to 1
7. Retief Goosen
I think Goosen is ready to make another run at the Masters. Until last year he hadn't finished outside the top 20 at Augusta National since 2001. He's had five top-six finishes this year and like his countryman Els is looking like he's playing his best golf in several years.
Odds of winning: 25 to 1
8. Steve Stricker
Stricker has been one of the PGA tour's most consistent players the last two years. He has four wins to go along with 15 top-10s. He is currently the No. 2 ranked player in the world too. If you don't think Stricker can win the Masters, he had a T6 last year. He's a veteran at age 43. He might be this year's version of Kenny Perry.
Odds of winning: 30 to 1
9. Rory Mcilroy
Roy McIlroy is the Irish phenom. He had two top-10 finishes in majors last year, and finished T20 in his first year at the Masters. That's impressive for his first full year of majors. I'm not quite sure he's ready to win at Augusta National, but would it shock if you if he did?
Odds of winning: 35 to 1
10. Dustin Johnson
Looking for a darkhorse? How about Dustin Johnson? He won at Pebble Beach earlier this year. He's long averaging 300 yards off the tee, and he ranks 11th in putting. Those are two things you need at Augusta, length and the ability to putt. Johnson is only 25 years old, but he's played at Augusta twice before, so it won't be brand new to him. It'd be a stretch, but he's good enough to contend.
Odds of winning: 40 to 1