The 83rd Masters
The Backside at Augusta National will be sizzling on Sunday afternoon on CBS
No.10: Par 4, 495 yards
A long hole that can play shorter if the drive catches the slope in the fairway. The second shot is critical here as the player hits to a green that is sloping right to left. Short right is in the sand trap and is a difficult up and down for par. T
No.11: Par 4 505 yards
The beginning of Amen Corner (holes 11-13), this hole is a difficult, long par 4, that puts a premium on your approach shot. If the competitor misses to the left of the green, he is in the water. A lot of players will bail out to the right and try to get up and down for par. Par is a good score here.
No.12: Par 3, 155 yards
This hole always tests a player's focus and resolve as there is almost always a prevailing wind that is either in the players face or at his back. Club selection and mental calmness under the storm are at a premium here. Fred Couples caught a huge break in 1992 on this hole when his ball held up on the bank and didn't go into Rae's Creek off his tee shot. That would have been devastating for Freddie. He got up and down and went on to win his only major title, though he also won 14 other times, including the 1996 Players Championship, the players' fifth major. Still, this was Fred's crowning achievement in golf.
No.13: Par 5, 510
An accurate tee shot to the center of the fairway sets up a player to go for it over a tributary of Rae's Creek that fronts the green. The second shot is another under the gun, clutchness challenge. There are four bunkers behind the putting surface. Short can be devastating on Sunday, as you're going swimming. Long can make for a difficult up and down for birdie. Birdie can be pretty critical here on Sunday for the players chasing, and for the player who is leading. One of the key moments in Masters history was Phil Mickelson's six iron out of the pine straw and through the trees to four feet in 2010. He missed his eagle putt, but he birdied, which helped Phil clinch his third Green Jacket.
No.14: Par 4, 440 yards
This is the only hole on the course without bunkers, but players must avoid trees on the left and right off the tee. The green is severely contoured and feeds the ball to the right. Phil holed out for eagle here on Saturday in 2010 during an eagle-eagle-birdie stretch that helped him get into the final group on Sunday in his victory that year. Bernhard Langer and chairman Billy Payne had an argument over 14 at a champions dinner several years ago. Langer got up and said there should be some changes to the 14th hole. Payne immediately interrupted and said, "This is not a place for this discussion. This dinner is over with." You don't mess with Augusta National.
No.15: Par 5, 530 yards
A cluster of pines on the right side of the fairway is coming into play so accuracy, hitting it down the pipe, is critical off the tee. The green can be reached in two with a good tee shot, but there is a pond in the front guarding the green and a bunker on the right side of the green. Even for those players laying up, the third shot requires a precision wedge. Tiger Woods was one shot back of the lead in 2013 when his wedge hit the flagstick and caromed into the water. He went back and dropped but there was a controversy on where he dropped the ball. He made bogey, but his incorrect drop was not discovered until after the round. He was allowed to stay in the tournament because of a committee error. Woods finished tied for fourth that year.
No.16: Par 3, 170 yards
The hole plays entirely over water and eventually bends to the left. Two bunkers guard the right side of the green and the green slopes significantly from right to left. The pin on Sunday is typically back left and on the lower shelf, so pars from the top shelf of the green are rare. Tiger Woods' amazing chip in 2005 in which his ball took a U turn and rolled toward the hole taking two seconds before dropping in the cup giving him a two shot lead over Chris DiMarco and the eventual victory is one of the more memorable shots in Masters history, but there have been so many on this hole.
No.17: Par 4, 440 yards
The tee shot is easier because the Eisenhower tree was lost to an ice storm in 2014. The green is protected by two bunkers in front. Jack sank his final birdie from 12 feet in 1986 to secure his 18th and final major at age 46. "Yes Sir!"
N0.18: Par 4 465 yards
One of the most demanding finishing holes in golf, this uphill dogleg right is protected off the tee by two deep bunkers down the fairway to the left about 280-285 yards out. The drive is through a chute between two sets of trees on the player's right and left sides. A middle iron is required on a highly tension filled approach shot. There is a bunker in front and on the right side of the green. Adam Scott birdied here in 2013 from 25 feet and Angel Cabrera followed him up with a birdie from four feet to set up a playoff which Scott won on No.10, the first playoff hole. It was a clutch city performance by both players. Should be an electric finish.
The 83rd Masters Tournament has an interesting plot this year. There are no clear cut favorites. There are a lot of very good players in the field with this crop of talent in the game today, but I’m not seeing closers amongst this group. I’m not seeing Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Watson, Trevino, Ballesteros and Faldo amongst these guys.
Dustin Johnson has terrific physical talent, but doesn’t seem to have it upstairs when it counts. Any time he’s the favorite, and even when he’s got the lead in a major after the second round like last year in the U.S. Open and looked unstoppable, he fails to close the deal
Rory is that kind of player as well. He seems to not get it done when you think he is going to.
Justin Thomas is a great player, but hasn’t proven that he can win more than 1 major.
Jordan Spieth is a little out of sorts right now, so you don’t know what you’re going to get from him either.
Jason Day, I don’t see him winning.
Brooks Koepka has been great at the U.S. Open the last 2 years and also won the PGA last year, but he hasn’t really ever been a factor at Augusta.
Rickie Fowler, Don’t see him as a closer in majors.
Justin Rose, possibly, but not a super track record at Augusta either.
Tiger Woods, possibly, he’s a 4 time winner in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005, so he’s got a shot and he was definitely a closer for a long time. But I’m not exactly bullish on him.
Patrick Reed , the defending champion, pretty critical of his teammates at the Ryder Cup, which I’m not sure wasn’t warranted, but he’s not playing that well either.
Phil, Not out of the question.
So, I’m going to take the 36 year old from Turin Italy. He won the Arnie and his performance at the Open Championship last year was beyond spectacular. Give me:
Thursday-Friday, 2-6:30 PM CT, ESPN
Saturday, 2-6:30 PM CT, CBS
Sunday, 1-6 PM CT, CBS
Thursday-great, high 83, winds 10-16 MPH, so wind a factor
Friday-pretty good, 84, chance of a shower, winds 9-13
Saturday, Mostly cloudy, 84, winds 6-10
Sunday, Chance for Strong T storms, hopefully not on Sunday at Augusta, Winds 13-18.
Playoffs start Saturday on ESPN, TNT and ABC
The Warriors are the favorites once again, but I’m seeing a soap opera out there. Kevin Durant is a bitter, disgruntled player right now, and with Draymond Green, who knows what’ll happen with him and how many technicals he’ll accumulate and maybe cost his team. I see them getting through the west and defeating James Harden, who hasn’t ever proven it in the playoffs, and the Rockets, but I like Milwaukee and the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo, a superb basketball player, who I like as MVP over Harden, to win out in the east over the Toronto Raptors and Kawai Leonard, and with the home court advantage in the championship series, I like Giannis and the Bucks to upset the Warriors. Like the Milwaukee Bucks to hoist the Lawrence O’Brien Trophy in June, the first time Milwaukee has done that since 1971 (48 years) when Kareem Abdul Jabbar was there and was unstoppable and was named Lou Alcinder at the time. Giannis is a force.