THERE’S not much that can be added to what has already been said about Augusta. All I can say is I get goosebumps around this time of year thinking about the upcoming Masters.
If like me you must think you know every blade of grass, where to land the ball off the tee and every burrow of those beautifully manicured greens on the back nine. For years we never knew what the front nine looked like as the Augusta National didn’t allow TV stations to show any of the action there. Presumably to keep the mystique of the course.
I have mentioned two of my selections over the past few weeks and I stick by them. Dustin Johnson is without doubt the form golfer at the moment (although is fall down stairs on Wednesday could change everything).
Since he won the US Open title last year it was like a weight being lifted from his shoulders and he has gone from strength to strength. He is just blowing his opponents away. When you look at his recent record here he has been getting closer, with the exception of 2014 when he missed the cut.
In the last four years he has finished T13, M/C, T6 and last year T4. His stats are unreal with 2nd in SG:Off the Tee, 6th in SG:Around the Green, 29th SG:Putting, and 1st in SG Tee-to-Green, SG:Total and 6th in Birdie Average. The man is a machine.
My other long-term selection is Hideki Matsuyama – why you might ask? Well, over the autumn and winter months, when I suggested him he was unbeatable.
On the PGA Tour he won twice and was runner-up twice in six outings. Unfortunately his putting seems to have disappeared. He is 6th in SG:Off-the-Tee, 13th in SG:Around-the Green, 7th SG:Tee-to-Green and his putting, well let’s just say that his approach shots are going to have to be red-hot to get him close to the pins. I still think he has the game to keep him in the hunt come Sunday. He’s too good to ignore and I stand by him.
Another form man is Rickie Fowler. WIth four top 10s, including a win at the Honda Classic, from seven outings this season he is in good form going into Augusta. He was really on song last week when tying third.
He had 27 birdies in his four rounds and yes he had three double bogeys but his overall play was really good. He is third in SG:Approach to the Green, 9th SG:Putting, 4th SG:Tee-to-Green and 2nd in SG:Total. This is his seventh appearance at Augusta and he hasn’t really set the heather (or should that be azaleas) alight. He missed the cut last year but he has had T5 and T12 finishes and is playing consistently this year. Well worth a wager.
In 11 tries at the Masters Justin Rose has had four top 10s and another five top 25s. His best finish was two years ago when he finished behind Jordan Spieth and tied with Phil Mickelson for second. I’ve been thinking about picking Justin for a while and he hasn’t done anything to put me off.
This season he has three top fives with another two top 15s and although his putting isn’t the greatest I think he has the overall game to be among the leaders come Sunday. His is 8th in SG:off the tee, 19th SG:Around-the-Green, 11th SG:Tee-to-Green and SG:Total.
Although Bill Haas hasn’t threatened at August he has made the cut in his seven appearances. He was impressive in the Match Play two weeks ago two weeks ago and although he’s only had two top-10 finishes in nine outings this season he is consistent.
He hasn’t missed a cut in seven months and with his consistently good scoring at Augusta I’m backing him to have a decent tournament. He is 22nd in SG:Approach to Green, 4th SG:Around the Green, 16th SG:Tee-To-Green, and 17th SG:Total. He is also first in scrambling which could be important round this beautiful course.
*Tipped before Johnson’s fall on Wednesday night – don’t back him unless he’s given a clean bill of health on Thursday morning. Due to tee off in the final group which may help his recovery.
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