2016 Masters Tournament Preview
Every year there is one tournament for golf that everyone considers the true start of the season. It is the most well-known, most celebrated tournament in all of golf. That, my good friends, is the Masters Tournament “A Tradition Unlike Any Other.” In the first full week of April, golf’s best gather to compete at the Augusta National Golf Club and claim the title for the first of the year’s four major tournaments. The Masters has been seen as one of the hardest tournaments because of its course design, while also being one of the most beautiful with each hole named after the surrounding trees and flowers. The Masters is a place where stars are born and names like Palmer, Nicklaus, Faldo, Tiger, Phil, Bubba, and now Spieth are presented to the world. Some of golf’s best memories have taken place at Augusta and will continue to do so for many years.
But let’s focus on this year’s tournament, which starts today. While the big man himself, Tiger Woods, is out due to injury, there are several names competing for the green jacket this weekend, potentially making this one of the best Masters Tournaments in years. Let’s take a look at those big names expecting to do well this weekend.
Phil’s game may be on the decline as he has gotten older, but that doesn’t mean he is out of it. His 2013 Open Championship is the last time he has won a tournament and maybe that is why he could emerge a victor this weekend when everybody least expects it. I’m not saying Lefty can win it all, but definitely expect to see him still competing Sunday afternoon.
Lefty is always a fan favorite and will be sure to carry the crowds with him this week. (Photo Credit: CNN)
Rickie Fowler is one of the last remaining young guns in golf yet to win a major tournament. With already one win this year and a Players Championship under his belt, Fowler is looking to finally make that leap and being apart of the “Big Four” of golf a reality. While many argue whether or not The Players Championship is golf’s unofficial fifth major, Fowler has proven himself as a strong contender and is at his best. Rickie resembles much of an early Phil Mickelson, who hadn’t won a major for 12 years as a professional. Currently 5th in the World Golf Rankings, Fowler is eager and hungry to prove to everyone he is the player we expect him to be.
Fowler is known for his fashion on the course, but is looking to solidify himself as a major player in the golf world. (Photo Credit: Golf Week)
Bubba to me is the fan’s player, even though he is actually afraid of fans and huge crowds. He is a self-made and self-taught player who has always been seen as a laid back and fun guy. His ability to bend the ball on drives still has people puzzled, along with his ability to hook any shot at any time. Bubba has won two Masters in the past four tournaments and very likely could get a fifth this year. As a fun side note: the only win Bubba had before his 2014 Masters title was from the Northern Trust Open. Bubba’s only win this year comes from the 2016 Northern Trust Open.
Bubba Watson has won two Masters and is looking to add his third in five years. (Photo Credit: Augusta.com)
Dustin Johnson is another star golfer looking for his first major tournament win. With a heartbreaking and unforgettable loss on the 18th in last years U.S. Open, Johnson has struggled at times off the course as well with three failed drug tests and allegedly having an affair with a PGA player’s wife. This year though, it seems he has more of a chip on his shoulder and is ready to make that final push towards redemption, not only with those on the golf course but in his own life. Currently ranked 8th in the world, Johnson will have tough competition to play against but if he plays his own game with great focus, then we could see him wearing the green jacket on Sunday.
Dustin Johnson has had to face battles on and off the golf course, but he is a good enough golfer and could win his first major on Sunday. (Photo Credit: The Guardian)
Adam Scott is having himself a great start to the PGA season. With two wins under his belt and looking hotter than ever, Scott may be looking at a second Masters win. With him acknowledging that age is a factor for some, the 35-year-old Aussie has decided to make the most of it, going as far as bringing back his former caddie Steve Williams, who won as Scott’s caddie in his 2013 Masters win. Bringing back his old caddie while having a remarkable season might be strange for some, but with a course like the Masters, you need as much experience as you can.
An Aussie looking for a third green jacket is Adam Scott. (Photo Credit: Forbes)
The Big Three
Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are ranked the highest in the World Golf Rankings because each of them represent the best in professional golf. They are all young bloods with majors under their belts, and you can count on them to bring their A game. These three men all come from different countries, different back stories and fight off one other to compete as golf’s best. We’ll see them compete during the PGA Tour, but with golf’s return to the Olympics, seeing these three duke it out in Rio will be special as well.
Jason Day finished the 2015 season strong with a win in year’s final major tournament, the PGA Championship. Day has also managed to continue his hot play this season as well with two wins, but there is one factor that may hurt Day’s chances for a Master win this year. An injury to his back during the Dell-Match Play scarred many, and everyone remembers his vertigo scene during the 2015 U.S. Open. While Day has managed to take down these personal battles many might wonder for how long can he fight them off. A win at this year’s Masters would surely silence the doubters and build his career.
Adam Scott will be fighting off the doubters and vertigo as he looks to win a Masters (Photo Credit: Sporting News)
Coming off one of the best years in PGA history, Jordan Spieth is the very definition of professional golf. A Masters Tournament win, U.S. Open win, a tie for 4th in the Open Championship and a 2nd place finish at the PGA championship is pretty impressive for the 22-year-old from Texas. However, this year may get off to a bit of a slump for Spieth. While he won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions back in January, he has only finished in the top 10 one other time. All eyes will be focused on Spieth as many expect greatness from him. What many do not realize is that seasons like Spieth’s last year do not happen consistently. Only Tiger Woods, arguably one of the games greatest, could match a season like that, as he won three majors in 2000. Even after his greatest season, Woods followed up that remarkable year with only one major win and three other finishes outside the top 10. Jordan Spieth will have an illustrious career ahead of him. But he is not going to be God All Mighty winning every major tournament.
Jordan Speith would be in esteemed company if he were to win back to back championships at the Masters. Only three other golfers have completed the feat: Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods, and Jack Nicklaus. (Photo Credit: ABC News)
The biggest golfer to shape himself after Tiger Woods, no doubt is Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. McIlroy grew up addicted to the game of golf from his coach and father Gerry, and watching Tiger Woods. With already four major tournaments in his record book, there is one tournament that has eluded him – the Masters. What makes McIlroy so great is his dedication to the game. Even after suffering an injury that many thought would keep him out for the remainder of the season, McIlroy managed to fight it off and play in the 2015 PGA Championship. His heavy workout routine makes people think he takes himself too seriously, but that just proves his desire to win. While he hasn’t played in many tournaments so far this season, this could mean he wants to focus and rest himself well enough to make his strongest push at the green jacket.
(Photo Credit: The Telegraph)
To me the reason why golf is better now is because there are more competitors to win. Tiger made golf fun and popular for everyone, paving the way for the future so golfers would strive to play like him. During Tiger’s career the only player that truly could stand up to him was Phil Mickelson. Today in golf, you have several top players instead of just two. Rickie, Bubba, Dustin, Adam, Jason, Rory, and Jordan all represent the future of golf. And that future is very, very bright. The stage is set for Jim Nantz, that glorious green, and a legendary weekend at Augusta.