The 2018 Masters: A Preview

Happy Thursday, and welcome to The Masters weekend!

It is the best time for a golf fan to sit back, and watch one of the most iconic sporting events ever created.

Let’s talk predictions.

First and foremost; it’s 2018, and Tiger Woods looks to be back in form. Tiger has been able to stay healthy (for the most part) in 2018 and nearly won his first tournament since 2013. What a fairy tale it would be if Tiger could reach into the time capsule and win another major. Chances of that happening? Not likely, but anything could happen at Augusta. He’s won in Augusta four times and finished in the top ten in 14 of the last 20 tournaments. With the way that Woods has been playing, it would be no surprise to see him playing late on Sunday evening, being in the hunt for the top of the leaderboard.

Phil Mickelson might be a time traveler as well, playing well like it is the early 2000’s all over again. Lefty has won the Masters before, and this could be his year to do it again… or finish top ten as he does in many of his tournaments. If Mickelson can stay out of the rough day one and two, I think that he’ll have enough magic in his bones to be in contention for the championship Sunday, and maybe even pull out the win.

According to Vegas, Jordan Spieth is the front-runner for the green jacket this year. Spieth’s highest finish this year has been third place at the Houston Open, and at the Hero World Challenge. Jordan Spieth is top ten in hitting Greens in Regulation. Staying consistent with that will be able to keep him on top of the leaderboard and give him a chance at another Masters win.

Rory Mcllroy needs a Masters win to complete the career Grand Slam. He has finished five straight Masters in the top ten, and this year has one tournament win under his belt, taking the cake at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Rory is an elite golfer in this generation. He has the long drives, and he has the short game if he can find a grip on his putting this weekend. If everything goes right, Rory could finally get his green jacket.

Dustin Johnson has an excellent chance of being in the top five by the end of the weekend. In the late 90’s, Tiger showed everyone what the long drives could do to Augusta; Johnson has just that. Johnson and Bubba Watson are two players who can torture this course if they can keep their drives between the crowds up and down each fairway.

Rickie Fowler has a lot of attention surrounding him this weekend, and that’s terrible news for Rickie. He doesn’t do well under pressure. All of Fowler’s top Major results came in 2014, taking second at the US Open and the Open Championship, as well as fifth at Augusta. Fowler won the Hero World Challenge back in December, but since then he has missed two cuts and finished top ten only once.

Look out for Justin Thomas and Matt Kuchar to lock it in for the tournament this weekend. Thomas is peaking at the right time, and things are looking good for the youngster from Kentucky. He hit well in the Mexico Championship and consistently lands in the top ten. Kuchar is another lad fond of consistency. He has never won a Major, but he ranks among the top of PGA Tour money earned. Kuchar is a dark horse for the green jacket, but a top ten finish from him seems about right.

The Masters always brings surprises, and two big surprises came from the par-3 contest.

First, Jack Nicklaus’ grandson hit a hole-in-one, and Jack said with all due respect that it was his favorite Masters moment he has had. This is coming from a guy who has won the tournament six times.

The other big surprise was Tony Finau who dislocated his ankle after celebrating a hole-in-one on the par-3 course. He was running down the fairway when he rolled it under himself, then popped it back into place. The bigger surprise? Finau will still be golfing in Augusta this weekend.

Sit back, relax, and get ready for a great weekend of golf.

Photo Credits: Google, Labeled for Reuse

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