We are officially inside the two week window until the cameras are turned on to the immaculate Augusta National Golf Club and 2014 edition of the Masters. Traditionally I would wait until the Sunday night prior to any golf tournament to break down what I expect in the coming week. However, every event is not the first major of the year and even then, every event is not the Masters. The Masters, much like the Open Championship, is an event I treat with a level of reverence and respect. April 10th thru April 13th will be the dates and Augusta, Georgia is the home. Welcome to Major Championship season and welcome to The Masters. Will a performance this year make the top-10 all-time greatest Masters moments or maybe the five worst Masters performances? One thing is for sure, Augusta will be entertaining.
The Par-72 Augusta National Golf Club is no pushover but most of the attention will be focused on “Amen Corner” (dubbed such in the 1958 edition of the Masters by Herbert Warren Wind in a Sports Illustrated article). “Amen Corner” refers to the 11th, 12th and 13th holes of the famed course. A high percentage of the television coverage will be focused here.
The 11th (White Dogwood) is a par-4 that plays 505 yards. A left-to-right downhill tee shot is a virtual must on this hole. In 1987 Larry Mize chipped in here during a playoff to defeat Greg Norman. The 12th (Golden Bell) is a par-3 that plays 155 yards. This is a short but challenging hole due to Rae’s Creek and often challenging winds. Navigation of this hole is crucial to Masters success but players may immerse themselves in history as they walk over Hogan’s bridge. The 13th (Azalea) is a par-5 that plays 510 yards. If players can navigate the dogleg left off the tee, they can challenge the green in two but need to make sure that they clear Rae’s Creek. An incredible shot out of the trees here by Phil Mickelson in 2010 propelled him to victory.
Thursday-Friday: ESPN-3-7:30 PM EST
Saturday April 12th:CBS-3-7 PM EST
Sunday April 13th:CBS-2-7 PM EST
$8 million total purse, $1.440 million winners share
I am aware that the Shell Houston Open still needs to be played next week, this year’s edition of the Valero Texas Open is currently in full swing, Tiger Woods has yet to confirm if his injured back will allow him to make the Masters and now Phil Mickelson is in question with his injury. However, the reality is the grey matter between my ears has already determined who I like at Augusta National. One of the tour players I like was chosen as the calendar year changed from 2013 to 2014. I feel secure in picking the following PGA professionals as contenders at the Masters and I like both players’ chances to wear the green jacket on April 13th. Without further ado I present my predictions and picks for the PGA Tour’s first Major Championship of 2014, the Masters.
Win Candidate: Adam Scott
Shocking right? I am claiming that the 2013 Masters champion is a contender to win the 2014 edition but if you think about it there has not been a repeat winner since Tiger Woods in 2002. With that in mind, it is not the sure thing many would think. However, Adam Scott has played incredibly at the Major Championships for the last two years with seven top-15s in eight starts including a second, third, fifth and victory at last year’s edition of this event. His last three starts at Augusta National include a victory, eighth and runner-up finish.
At the time of this writing, Scott has made five official starts on the PGA Tour in 2014. Of those five, all are top-25s, three are top-10s and a third place finish in his last start. The latter being the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he dominated the entire week until stumbling home on Sunday. Adam Scott has learned from his mistake at The Open Championship and parlayed that into a Masters title last season. The way he is playing he can definitely do it again.
Win Pick: Jason Day
At the end of the 2013 calendar year I was predicting Jason Day to breakthrough at a Major Championship in 2014. I even warned that he might be the pick at the Masters. There is no good reason to change that stance now. If you look at how Day plays golf he is built to win a Major Championship. He finished in the top-10 three out of four times at the majors in 2013 including an eighth at the PGA Championship, a runner-up at the US Open and a third place finish here at Augusta National.
If you exclude 2012, when he withdrew, Jason has played seven of his last eight competitive rounds in Masters competition at par or better including a 64 in 2011 which was good enough for a runner-up finish. Think about that, Day has a runner-up and third place finish in his last two full Masters appearances.
Another point to consider is that Jason Day has aligned his schedule to prepare and peak at golf’s biggest events. Players like Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson have done this in the past when they felt they were close to breaking through. He is a little off schedule but the fact that he was setting his schedule shows that he believes the time has come.
In 2014, Day has made three official starts on the PGA Tour making the cut in all of them finishing as the runner-up at the Farmers Insurance Open and winning the Accenture Match Play Championship. . His injured thumb, which caused him to withdraw from the Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, will keep him out until Augusta. Is the injury a concern? Sure but he will be rested and will probably get a cortisone shot if needed but I expect him to start at Augusta. He could have played leading up to Augusta but chose to rest and be ready for the Masters. If he is in the field he is my pick to win the Masters.
Who will win the 2014 Masters?
- Other (Please Leave Comment) (44%, 19 Votes)
- Jason Day (40%, 17 Votes)
- Adam Scott (16%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 43