With less than 2 weeks to go before the first major of the year, the 2009 Masters has already started to dominate the newswires, networks and golf websites. Tiger’s win at the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational has set the stage for the most anticipated golf tournament of the year.
The Masters already comes with its own brand of excitement. Arguably the hardest ticket to get in sports golfers from around the globe are fixated to their television sets to catch a glimpse of the lush green fairways and colorful azaleas at cover Augusta National Golf Club. But this year is a bit different. There are some very compelling storylines were created by Tiger’s absence in 2008.
With a victory at Augusta National Padrig Harrington is poised to capture his 3rd consecutive major title. Wouldn’t that be one for the record books? If Harrington manages to do that he will have a special note added to his accomplishment, he did it during the Tiger Era. Padrig finished in a tied for 5th in the 2008 Masters and figures to be a factor again this year.
How can you forget about the Phil Mickelson? With 2 wins already under his belt in 2009, the 3-time major winner and 2-time Masters champion has to be considered a frontrunner this year. Phil’s game seems to be coming around despite some inconsistent play at times he has managed to have a stellar year so far. But when you talk about Phil Mickelson sporadic play comes with the territory. I expect Phil to play well and maybe golf fans can get a much anticipated Mickelson/Woods final pairing on Sunday.
The one person that many people are not talking about is former champion Zach Johnson. Zach has had a solid year to say the least. He won the Sony Open in Hawaii, Finished Tied for 6th at the season opening Mercedes Championship and finished tied for 3rd in last weeks Arnold Palmer Invitational. If there is one thing I know, Zach knows to win at Augusta. In 2007 Johnson stared down Tiger Woods, stuck to his game plan and emerged as a Masters Champion. I have feeling Zach Johnson will make some noise at this years Masters Tournament.
Last but not least how can I leave out the defending champion Trevor Immelman? His best finish this year is a tie for 19th at the Transitions Championship. Despite the fact that he hasn’t had a great year so far he is still a factor. Let’s face it, he didn’t have a great year last year and he still won the 2008 Masters. In fact Immelman missed the cut a week before at the Shell Houston Open. So his current play is not a clear indication of what will happen at Augusta. The fact that he is the defending champion and that he has an opportunity to win back to back majors might be the spark he needs to walk away with his second green jacket.
As the 2009 Masters Tournament approaches and the anticipation builds, more and more speculation will surface, but one thing is for sure, this year will be a special one at Augusta National Golf Club.
(images courtesy of Getty Images)
"keep it in the short grass"
Edward S. Wanambwa