On Thursday, April 10, 2014, The Masters, the first of the four major championships in men’s golf, will begin at Augusta National Golf Club.
The anticipation, excitement and commentary around the event are building. The tournament is the “kick-off” of the golf season for many people. It also attracts the interest of non-golfers.
I have been lucky enough to go to Augusta National to see The Masters four times.
The course is majestic…television (even HD) doesn’t do it justice. And nothing is more exciting in golf than watching the leaders head to the back nine on the final day of play because anything can happen.
The setting, the players and the history and tradition this tournament represents combine to make The Masters one of the greatest sporting events of the year.
As with all great sporting events everyone loves to predict who will win. It’s hard to say how players will handle the nerves or if the “magic” will be with them for four straight days. Will a player rise to the occasion or buckle under pressure and fatigue? Speculation about the outcome is inevitable.
So, my pick to win The 2014 Masters is…
I think this will be McIlroy’s moment to claim the green jacket. Watching his press conference, his demeanor was calm, relaxed and carefree. He appears to be handling the pressure well…a lesson I’m sure he learned from his heart-breaking loss at The Masters in 2011 when he was leading the tournament on the final day only to shoot 80 and finish 10 shots back.
McIlroy has been under the radar for the start of this season, although he has previously won two major championships. If he wins The Masters that would just leave The Open Championship for him to complete the career grand slam. Only six players have accomplished this: Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods.
My back up pick is Adam Scott, last year’s Master’s champion. Scott has been playing well this year. That momentum combined with the experience of his win at Augusta last year gives him a good chance to repeat. Only three players have been repeat champions at The Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.
I also have a dark horse pick…Graeme McDowell. McDowell is a good putter and the green complexes at Augusta National require players to putt well to have a chance at winning the tournament.
But my sentimental favorite is Fred Couples. I have been a fan of Couples since the 1990s. It was a thrill for me to follow him during a few rounds at Augusta. I appreciate his style of play and his demeanor. When he is healthy he is an excellent player and he always plays well at Augusta.
So those are my predictions. Let us know who you think will win (or who you’d like to see win) The 2014 Masters.
It’s going to be an exciting four days of golf!