We are close to the time when the cameras are turned on to the immaculate Augusta National Golf Club and 2015 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 9th thru April 12th 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.
Dates: April 9 -12 2015
Course: Augusta National
Stats: Par 72, 7,435 yards
Television Broadcast Coverage (Times):
Thursday: ESPN 3:00 – 7:30 PM EST, 8:00 – 11:00 PM EST
Friday: ESPN 3:00 – 7:30 PM EST, 8:00 – 11:00 PM EST
Saturday: CBS 3:00 -7:00 PM EST
Sunday: CBS 2:00 -7:00 PM EST
Purse: $9 million
Masters, Augusta National Amen Corner and 18 Breakdown
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. From there, players will be faced with an approach into a green protected by a pond to the left and a bunker to the right. 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. This green is also protected by three carefully located bunkers. 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. If they clear the creek, four bunkers guard the back of this green. An incredible shot out of the trees here by Phil Mickelson in 2010 propelled him to victory.
What should not be lost in the mix is “”Holly,” the 465 yard, Par 4 finishing hole at Augusta National. Without a doubt, this is one of the most famous holes in golf. As the finishing hole of the Masters, “Holly” will get it share of attention and rightfully so. The landing area of the uphill dogleg finishing hole is protected is protected by two angry bunkers. If players hit the fairway there is a chance that a middle iron into a narrow green may decide the 2015 Masters.
Masters, Augusta National Top Picks
Attempting to pick a winner out of a full field event is a lot like a needle in a haystack. Now throw in that it is the first major and that it is Augusta National and things get even more challenging to weed out contenders and picks. Let’s see if I can get things rolling with 2015 Masters predictions. I am backing all three guys I liked at great odds in December. My 25-1 and 100-1 bets have me all warm and fuzzy inside. In case you do not remember, here were my 2015 Masters Early Odds, Predictions and Betting Value that was posted in December. It’s time to get to the predictions and picks for the 2015 Masters at Augusta National.
|Jason Day||I will not back off him now since I picked him in December. If you exclude 2012, when he withdrew, Jason has played nine of his last 12 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 two of his last three full Masters appearances. Another point to consider is that Jason Day has aligned his schedule to prepare and peak at golf’s biggest events. He already has three top-5s including a win at the Farmers Insurance Open.|
|Patrick Reed||It is true that he succumbed to a second round 79 and a missed cut in his Masters debut but he has won under pressure so the last year should be looked at as a learning experience. He won a World Golf Championship event, the Cadillac Championship, last year and that field is as imposing as almost any a player can face. This year he added a win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, a runner-up at the Valspar Championship and a third at the Hero World Challenge. Like Jordan Spieth, he does not know that he is not supposed to be this good yet. His Shell Houston Open results are not known at the time of this writing but if he stays on form he can be in for one heck of an April payday.|
|Jordan Spieth||Another that I backed in December for this event. The kid is a machine that just does not know any better. People are supposed to pay their dues on tour but Jordan has bypassed that altogether. Recently he has managed a tie for 4th at the Northern Trust, a tie for 7th at Pebble Beach, his second career win at the Valspar Championship and a runner-up at the Valero Texas Open. At the time of this piece his Shell Houston Open results are not known but he played solid golf for four rounds and slept on the lead heading into the final round of the 2014 Masters. He was three over during his final 11 holes as a Masters rookie. The nerves are behind him and he is ready for the moment. Look out!|