Special Feature by Matthew Temple
Hello, friends. It’s that time of year again where Jim Nantz invites himself into your living room, pours himself some lemonade, sits way too close to you on the couch and proceeds to whisper in your ear for the next 4 days. A tradition unlike any other.
All kidding aside, The Masters is a truly special tournament. For many, myself included, it serves as a marker for the real beginning of spring, not to be confused with the actual official start of the season, March 20th. There’s always those unnecessary random cold days at the end of March, so I think the calendar makers need to get their asses on board.
This Masters returns in 2018 with more juice than I can remember in the last 10 years. Tiger is officially back. Spieth has finished T2, 1, T2, T11 in his 4 Masters appearances, but comes in without much momentum. Rory is hot, and can complete the career Grand Slam with a green jacket, but he’s only truly contended for it one time in nine tries. Justin Thomas looks like the next superstar, and could reach that status with a win. I could keep the names and narratives coming – Sergio, DJ, Mickelson, Day…the list of serious contenders is long.
I’m here to break it down – my winner, top-10 locks, a sleeper, and a couple of things to look for this tournament:
Does Tiger have a real shot?
The short answer is yes. After years and years of listening to people annoyingly insist that Tiger is back, I’m ready to concede that he’s finally back. Although his last PGA Tour win came in in 2013, he has two top-5 finishes in his last three tournaments, and he says he feels like the old Tiger. Couple that with his history at Augusta and knowledge of how to play the course and… oh boy. I think Tiger plays well, but ultimately can’t overcome a weekend 74. We’ll see if he can be steady and consistent this weekend.
Which Jordan Spieth will we see?
As I said, Spieth has torn Augusta up in his first four career appearances, and he could easily have 3 Masters victories if not for a couple of rough holes on Sunday.
Somehow, he was going off at 16-1 odds to win earlier in March – he had just missed the cut at Valspar (after missing the cut at the Phoenix Open in February) and looked out of form. After bouncing back with a Top-20 and a T3 finish last weekend at the Houston Open, Spieth is suddenly now a favorite at 10-1…what a difference a week makes. I think you’ll see the same old Masters Spieth, in contention from the very start.
Spanish for “The Masters”. You might not remember, but the green jacket currently sits on the shoulders of Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who managed to get the monkey off his back
Spain’s best chance to retain the crown lies with World #3 Jon Rahm, who’s high-power game seems like it should play well at Augusta. He finished T27 in his first time playing the course last year, and you can bet he’s relishing the opportunity to play in a group with Tiger. Rahm is a 23-year old phenom, and he’s going to win a Masters at some point – the only question is when.in the process by winning his first major championship. Sergio was born (and still resides in) Barriol, Spain, which is about an hour north of where I live. Me and Serg are practically neighbors.
Give me Spieth and Justin Thomas. JT has been so good lately – THREE TOP 5 FINISHES in his last 3 starts, and need I remind you he ran away with the last major at the PGA Championship back in August. Some people think when it’s all said and done, JT will end up with more hardware than Spieth…we’ll see. I like them both at Augusta this year.
Bryson DeChambeau. This guy walks around the course in his little french hat calculating swing angles and arc trajectories to ‘give himself an edge’ and I hate every second of it. He’s just the worst. But he’s contended at this tournament before, and he finished 2nd in his last tournament at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s a great long-shot bet at 68-1.
I’m taking Justin Thomas at 10-1. He’s too good and just like Hansel, he’s so hot right now.
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