Augusta National Golf Club, 7,435 yards,, par 72
Defending champion: Sergio Garcia
Weather: Sunny Thursday, Friday and Sunday, Temperatures anywhere from 70 to 78 on Thursday and Friday respectively to the low 60's on Sunday. There will be some wind, 7-10 on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and very windy, 16-25 on Saturday. Saturday looks a little sketchy weather-wise with rain and a heavier t storm possible. No. 12 is always a key hole with the wind. The 155 yard, par 3 requires precision to hit the green and the wind is always swirling, so club selection is at a premium.
TV: Thursday-Friday, 2-6:30 PM CT, ESPN, Highlights 10:35-10:50 PM CBS. Saturday, 2-6 PM CT, CBS. Sunday, 1-6 PM CT, CBS
As my man Walter Pittman says, the tournament will be decided Sunday on the back 9. All tough holes with high pressure every shot for all contenders. Amen Corner, 11, 12 and 13 will be extremely interesting and test the nerves of the contenders, along with the par 5 15th, the par 3 16th and the epic 18th where there will be some major drama and electricity. No. 10, the 475 par 4, is always an electric hole. Bubba Watson won his first Green jacket there in a playoff over Louis Oosthuizen in 2012 hooking a gap wedge 164 yards out of the woods to 15 feet and won the tournament with that shot, making par as Louis O. bogeyed the hole. Adam Scott sank a 14 foot birdie putt to win in a playoff over Angel Cabrera in 2013 to capture his first and only Green Jacket so far on Number 10. So a very important hole, both in regulation and as the second hole in a playoff with 18 being the first playoff hole.
You've got Tiger mounting an amazing resurgence and going for his 5th Green Jacket. Rory., who just won at the Arnie 3 weeks ago, goes for the career Grand Slam with the Masters being the only title that has eluded him. Rory's won a U.S. Open, an Open Championship and 2 PGAs. Justin Thomas is playing superb golf as usual, though he hasn't been that hot since the Honda in early March. But JT will definitely be a factor. Jordan Spieth is playing better after a 3rd place finish last week at Houston. If his putter is clicking he can win his second Green Jacket after winning it in 2015. Dustin Johnson has not torn it up this season though he did win the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January. He's definitely a factor though. Jason Day is back in the hunt in majors after winning the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego in late January. Jon Rahm is certainly a threat. He won the CareerBuilder in January. Phil, after winning the WGC Mexico Championship a month ago, has also resurfaced as a contender after not winning for 4 years. His last victory came at the Open Championship in 2013 at Muirfield, his fifth major championship. He has 3 Green Jackets to his name. Hideki Matsuyama is always a factor. And Sergio Garcia is extremely confident on this golf course after putting on a performance for the ages last year in capturing his first major.
But I'm going with somebody else. I'll take the 39 year old from Bagdad, Florida to capture his 3rd Green Jacket after winning in 2012 and 2014. My winner is an experienced veteran who loves this golf course and excels on it. Should be spectacular all weekend and particularly on Sunday.
Gerry Lester "Bubba" Watson