>As the tournament is minutes from kicking off, here are my aces in the hole this week:
He obviously has the power, but the rest of his game is underrated. He’s won this year, and although he’s dropped off the radar a bit after his win he did have three straight Top 20 finishes before his win.
One may be tempted to dismiss his two early victories in Europe as they were against less than stellar fields, but then he’s come to the PGA Tour and he’s landed T9, 2, and T3 in four events. His game is definitely primed, and he doesn’t seem to be suffering from much of a culture shock in America.
Lee may be playing as well as anyone in the planet over the past six months. He has a 1, T3, T3, 2, T9, and T8 in his last nine tournaments. His ball striking will allow him to not only get the ball on the gree, but to get it in the right part of the green, which is key at Augusta.
I really don’t expect him to win, but I still give him a better chance to win than almost any other player in the field. He’s physically healthy, and by all accounts his ball striking is good. The question marks are pressure putting and basic competition experience.
While I’m at it, here’s why I’m picking these four over other some of the other names that are bandied about:
Strick – I just don’t think he’s long enough. When you are forced to hit Augusta’s green-inside-the-green it’s key to have as short a club as possible in your hands. I know non-bombers have won at Augusta, but it’s more the exception than the rule.
Phil – He has the game to win, but he’s been too inconsistent this year. Maybe he needs Tiger around to bring out the best in him.
Furyk – Not long enough, and with the exception of his win he’s been inconsistent as well.
Casey – I don’t think he’s 100% healthy. Augusta will kick your ass if you go in with less than your A-game.
Poults – He had a great run going at the end of last year, but he’s struggled with inconsistency this year.
Ernie – We didn’t really see his double wins coming this year, did we? I’ll be cheering for him, but I don’t know that he’s all the way back yet. It’s one thing to reach the winners’ circle, quite another to maintain that level of play. Having said that, he was going to be my next pick.
Ogilvy – He should do well here, with his short game, but I think he’s distracted right now. He’s the kind of a player who might benefit from having to play a bit loose, and he could get on a run.
AK – He’s playing well, and I’m very happy to see that. A LOT of things have to go right to win a tournament. In addition to playing lights out you have to have that little bit of luck to separate yourself from the other handful of players who also are playing lights out. It’s not likely he’ll A) Reach that level of play again this week, and B) Have all those things go right for him again this week.