Who is going to win the Masters? How will a November Masters play out differently than an April Masters? Will Tiger be able to defend his Green Jacket? Will the tournament still give us the chills and excitement without all the great roars on the back nine because of lack of patrons? All great questions that will soon be answered.
This years Masters will truly be a tradition unlike any other… at least any other in terms of what we know the Masters as. It's being held in November, which means a multitude of different things. Different grass types, different weather, different birds chirping, different flowers blooming, you get the idea. It will also be held without any patrons, meaning it will be much more like a walk in the park rather than a high energy, loud and exciting Major Championship like it usually is. Both of these things may contribute to a different ending than what we have become accustomed to.
First, let's take into account the golf course and how its going to play. November in Georgia means the course will be overseeded and will not play quite the same as it does in the spring. The grass types will be somewhat different as the rye grass that was overseeded is taking hold with the bermuda fading out. Because the ryegrass in the fairways was just planted it will need to be watered aggressively, thus causing the course to play longer. This will also make pitching and chipping the ball around the green a little more tricky as the lies may change depending on what type of grass they are hitting from. The forecast is calling for rain, which will also make the course play longer. Finally, the wind direction generally is from the North during the fall, making the holes that are normally downwind in the spring more into the wind now… so basically it will be a completely different course from the spring minus the way the greens are playing.
Next, lets address the thought that there will be no patrons there to watch and cheer on the players. Augusta is famed for the giant roars of the crowds, especially from the theatrical layout of the back nine holes. The cheers usually echo and reverberate across the property come Sunday afternoon, but this year will be different. This tournament will play out more like a Club Championship rather than a Major Championship. Don’t get me wrong, there is still huge stakes to play for but the atmosphere will definitely be different.
This leads me to believe that someone who is younger and has good length will be a great fit for a new Green Jacket come Sunday night. Many of the younger guys on tour now hit the ball a long way, and are accustomed to playing in college with hardly any galleries following them or cheering them on. Morikawa at the PGA and Bryson at the US Open being great examples. But then there is also something about Augusta that requires a little bit of a learning curve. Only Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 won the Masters on his first try. The average age of Masters winners is 32 years old, and the average number of previous Masters played per winner in six. Age and experience are proven to carry a great deal of weight here. This potentially because, unlike other Major Tournaments, the Masters is always played in the same location year after year.
So we have a course that is already playing long now playing potentially even longer with the forecasted rain. Wind isn’t expected to be much of a factor, but you are going to need someone who can grind in all weather conditions in order to contend for the Green Jacket this week. You're also going to need someone with some Master's experience. There is a fairly short list of players I see contending this week. To no one's surprise, the best ranked players in the world are also the ones who have the best chance at winning.
I think Bryson will definitely turn some heads this week with his amazing length, but I am not sure he has all the experience needed to win this thing. I also don’t see him being able to grind it out if conditions get really tough.
Three guys I think will be there in the end are Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy. They all bomb the ball which will be an essential skill this week. But they are also really well rounded players, and whichever one of them has the best week on the greens will determine who is wearing the green jacket on Sunday.
Who do you have to win this years Masters?
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