It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the sporting calendar, the 2011 Augusta Masters gets underway on Thursday and our golf expert Bruce Robertson marks our card on who good be sporting the green jacket at the end of this weekend.
Venue: Augusta National
The first Major of the year is upon us and it is the only major played on the same, picturesque, course in Georgia every year. Experience is important this week as course management is crucial. No ‘rookie’ has won in the last 32 years.
The rough has been grown and the fairways narrowed over the last few years and the key is positioning the golf ball. The strategy is to know when to attack a flag and give yourself birdie opportunities, or simply just play for a par.
The greens will be very fast and tricky so playing shots below the hole to leave an uphill putt, can be very advantageous.
Phil and Tiger are the market leaders, with lefty all the rage after winning in Houston last week. I give Mickelson a big, big chance this week but the odds are too short for me, and he has the added pressure of trying to win back to back Masters and back to back on The PGA Tour
No.1 Nick Watney 18/1 (Totesport)
He has won for us already this year and I am sticking with him this week. His form is excellent, with top 15 finishes in his last five events, including that win. This has been partly due to the success of working with his new coach, Butch Harmon. His Masters record is very good also, 11th on his debut in 2008 and 7th last year when he finished with a stunning 65. He is ranked top of the all round stats on The PGA Tour this year and must have a great chance this week
No. 2 Hunter Mahan 30/1 (Blue Sq)
Hunter has become a very consistent player and after missing the cut here in 2008. He bounced back with two top ten finishes in 2010 and last year. Warmed up well in Houston last week when he was 3 shots off the pace going into the final round but faded as Lefty pulled away from the pack. He has five top tens this year and is ranked sixth all round on The PGA Tour.
Has really come of age since being the lynch pin of The European Ryder Cup team success. He has already won The WGC World Matchplay this year, where his golf was superb. He is probably the most accurate player on Tour which should give him plenty of birdie opportunities. He has two top ten finishes at Augusta but is a much better player now. He is shorter than most but so were recent winners Zach Johnson and Mike Weir.
No. 4 Justin Rose 35/1 (Paddy Power)
Another one to feature in my columns and this may well be his time for a Major. No stranger to The Masters leader board as he has led after every round, but it is round 4 that matters and I think he will be there on Sunday. He may also still have a point to prove in the first Major since being left out of The Ryder Cup team. He has adapted well to The PGA Tour and has the ability to win majors, starting this week.
Other longer priced players I like are KJ Choi and Rory Sabbatini
Whatever happens, it is simply the greatest golf tournament to watch on television. Stunning scenery, quality golf and plenty of drama is guaranteed. Let’s hope we have a Winner to top off a fantastic week ahead.