Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Mulligan: Masters Preview

This is the week we have all been waiting for. It is finally time for the best of the best to duke it out on one of the most beautiful courses in the country, Augusta National. This week, the Tour heads to Georgia for the best tournament of the year; The Masters. The best players in the world are all in the field this week with no exceptions. From Wednesday’s Par 3 Game to the final walk down Amen Corner on Sunday, this should be a great week for golf fans everywhere.

Before you pencil in your fantasy golf lineup, check out my preview. I have broken down some of the noteworthy players in the field by placing them in 3 categories: (1) Proven Players, (2) Wild Cards, and (3) My Picks.


The following players are ranked in the top 10 in the world and have a history of playing well at Augusta National. They have proven that they can play with the best and all of them have the potential to compete for the Green Jacket this week.

Padraig Harrington

One of the most interesting golf stories in 2009 is Padraig Harrington’s pursuit of the “Paddy Slam.” Harrington won both the British Open and the PGA Championship last year and he is hoping to keep his major streak alive by winning this weak at Augusta. Harrington has never won a Masters, but he finished 5th last year at Augusta and has a good chance to compete this week.

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson has 2 Green Jackets, winning at Augusta in both 2004 and 2006. He is obviously another player that should be in the running this week at the Masters. He has 2 victories already this season, so a good performance this week would be no surprise. However, Lefty struggled last week in Texas, missing the cut during his Masters tune up. This is reason enough for me to keep him off of my fantasy golf picks list for this week. There are just too many good players in the field that are riding high on momentum to take Phil after last week’s let down.

Vijay Singh

“Vijay” translates to “Victory” in Hindi. Singh lived up to his name at the 2000 Masters where he won one of his 3 major titles and his only Green Jacket. He has finished in the top 20 every year since his 2000 victory, so he has a history of playing well here. He is not playing all that well so far this year, however, having started 7 tournaments with only one top-10 finish.

Sergio Garcia

Sergio finished 4th in 2004 and 8th in 2002 at Augusta, so he can handle the course and the pressure. However, since 2004 his best finish is 46th, and he has put his clubs in the trunk on Friday multiple times. He has never won a Green Jacket and it is unlikely he will get his first this week. Sergio has proven himself at Augusta, but his recent performances here make it unlikely that he will do much this week.

Henrik Stenson

Stenson has finished in the top 20 each of the past two years at Augusta. He tied for 3rd last week at the Shell Houston Open in his Masters tune up where he played extremely well. Look for some of that momentum to carry over to this week for Stenson. He is a proven player who could really contend this week.

Wild Cards

The following players are wild cards. They could all contend this week, but they are either unproven or have a history of playing poorly at Augusta. I would not recommend putting any of them in your fantasy golf lineup, but they could make some noise if things go right this week.

Camilo Villegas

Villegas has played in two Masters and has been cut twice. However, he has three top 10 finishes this year and is playing well. This combination makes him a wild card for this week’s tournament. It is too soon to know if he simply plays poorly at Augusta, or if he has just had a couple of bad tournaments here.

Kenny Perry

Perry hasn’t played in the Masters since 2005 where he finished 29th. He has never won at Augusta, and really has never played all that well here. He has started 2009 off very well and he already has five top 10 finishes, including a win at the FBR open. Perry has been a model of consistency this year and he has not missed a single cut in 9 starts. Perry’s poor history at the Masters and his 3 year hiatus make him a wild card this week and it is hard to know what to expect from him.

Nick Watney

Watney tied for 11th at last year’s Masters and he already has a victory this year to along with four other finishes of 12th or better. Watney is playing the best golf of his career right now, but he is still unproven on the big stage. Watney is a wild card this week, and he could silence all of his critics by proving himself this week on golf’s biggest stage.

My Picks

The following 3 players are my picks for the 2009 Masters. If you have a fantasy golf team, consider playing these guys for the first major of the year.

Geoff Ogilvy

No Aussie has ever won the Masters. Stuart Appleby predicts that will change this year. An Aussie himself, Appleby was in the driver’s seat in 2007 with the lead after Saturday’s round, but he faded to 7th on Sunday. This year, he has a different Australian in mind as the favorite for the Masters. Allenby says: "I would say right now that Geoff is No. 1 in the world. . . . He's got a lot of confidence, plus he has an incredible short game. Yeah, sure, Tiger is always going to be a favorite, but I would put Geoff Ogilvy in front of Tiger. If Geoff controls his nerves and his feelings at that tournament, there's no reason why he shouldn't win." I think Ogilvy will need to clear out some closet space after this weekend. He has the best chance of anyone this week to win his second major, and become the first Aussie to win at Augusta National.

Robert Karlsson

The best player you have never heard of is a Swede named Robert Karlsson. He finished tied for 8th in last years Masters, his second trip to Augusta. He also posted top 10 finishes in the British Open and the US Open last year, so Karlsson has proven that he can play well in the majors. I think he is due for his first major win this season and maybe even his first Green Jacket. Expect Karlsson to be in the mix on Sunday afternoon.

Tiger Woods

It doesn’t take a genius to put Tiger Woods on the list of players who have a very good chance of winning this year’s Masters. Tiger has won this tournament 4 times before in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005. The last time we saw Tiger this season he was burying a 16-foot putt on the 18th at Bay Hill to cap off a dramatic Sunday comeback. Tiger has room for a few more Green Jackets in his closet and he is the obvious fantasy golf pick this week. Tiger is a big time player who steps up in big time situations. It doesn’t get much bigger than the Masters.

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Vincetastic said...

This is one of the best Masters fields in recent memory. There are so many story lines and with Tiger coming off his first victory of the year, it could be another classic. Personally I hope Ernie Els wins his first Masters, he’s one of the best golfers who hasn’t worn the green jacket. I made a list on my site of who I think is the favorite to win this year: You can vote which changes the rank of each golfer, and if you don’t agree with my picks you can add your own.

Chris Stanley said...
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Chris Stanley said...

Did anyone catch the Par 3 Tournament? Vijay skipped one in on 16 and Fuzzy Zoeller pulled a girl out of the crowd to put for him. She made the put and the gallery went nuts.

My favorite moment from Wednesday occured when Gary Player buried a hole in one (sort of). Player hit his first ball into the water, and then hit a second ball off of the tee in the hole for a score of 3. Player was playing with Nicklaus and Palmer, which is pretty amazing. After making the shot, Jack Nicklaus looked at Player and said, "Nice par."