Masters 2017 – The Course & The Contenders
by Golf South West
It’s Masters week and all eyes will be on the faultless fairways and greens of Augusta National. Last year saw Danny Willets take home the green jacket and become the first English winner of the tournament since Nick Faldo won for the 3rd time in 1996. Some say Willets was gifted the win when Spieth famously faltered on the back nine, dropping six shots in 3 holes, and the likelihood of him retaining the title seems unlikely. So let’s take a look at the main contenders for this years coveted green jacket.
Johnson arrives in phenomenal form having won his last 3 tournaments, looking to clinch a 4-timer with a win at Augusta. In recent weeks he has shown why he has cemented his place as the current world No 1 and with his putter on form, as well as consecutive top-10 finishes in previous Masters, he definitely has the form and experience to justify his short price at the head of the market.
Mickelson has been one of the most consistent performers at Augusta throughout his career, winning 3 times, and although he hasn’t been in the winning circle since 2013, we believe that this could be the year that the lefty adds a fourth green jacket to his collection. Even though he was slightly disappointing at houston, Mickelson has not missed a single cut in 2017 and showed good form in his previous top 8 finish at the match play. A combiniation of fantastic form and a sublime short game could give lefty as good a chance as anyone going into the weekend.
Although it is rare for a rookie to win at Augusta (Fuzzy Zoeller was the last rookie winner in 1979), a huge performance is expected from this in form rookie. The Spaniard won on his 12th PGA appearance at a difficult course that normally suits well seasoned golfers. Rahm as a well rounded game with a huge drive to boot, and if hes playing to anywhere near the standard we have seen at times this season then this young rookie could be right up there.
It’s insane to think that a player as young as Spieth has a win and two second place finishes in the Masters in the last 3 years. For most that kind of record would be something they could only dream of, but for a player with the astronomical standards Spieth holds himself too, those stats may be a source of frustration, especially considering how he had last years title seemingly in the bag before a back-9 meltdown that gifted the title to Englishman Danny Willets. With another year of maturity and his obvious ability to tame Augusta, it would be no surprise at all to see Spieth take home a second green jacket.
Hole 1 – Tea Olive
An incredibly tough start by any standards, play too aggressively here and you could be starting the tournament on the backfoot, chasing dropped shots on an incredibly unforgiving course. Ranked as the 2nd most difficult hole on the course in 2016 this Par-4 saw just 19 Birdies whilst claiming almost 90 dropped shots with 89 Bogeys. It’s probably wise to take it easy here and let the nerves settle.
Hole 2 – Pink Dogwood
The most important holes on the course are not always the most difficult ones, the par 5 2nd hole is a great opportunity for players to pick up important shots. Rated as the easiest hole on the course in last years tournament, this 575 yard Par-5 claimed only 19 bogeys whilst yielding 6 eagles and 113 birdies for the field. If players want to be in contention on the final day they need to make sure they are picking up shots from this hole every day, and with Louis Oosthuizen scoring an albatross here in 2012, it is clearly an excellent opportunity to pick up a shot, or three.
Hole 4 – Flowering Crab Apple
The 3rd most difficult hole on the course in 2016 and by far the most demanding par-3 on the course if not in competitive play, this 240 yard hole saw just 13 Birdies compared to 95 bogeys in last years tournament, and with bunkers in front of the green, approaching with a 6-iron can be a scary ordeal, with most players more than happy to walk away with a par.
Hole 11 – White Dogwood
The hardest hole on the course in 2016, this Par-4 had some terrifying statistics with players claiming just 9 birdies compared to the 110 bogeys that it claimed. This whole requires a long accurate drive otherwise players are left with an approach shot to a small green that has water on one side and a bunker behind. This hole is the start of amen corner and it’s easy to see why a few players might say a prayer when stepping on to the tea, however a par here will often see players make progress against the field.
So the course has been watered the players are ready and the fans are itching with anticipation. The 2017 Masters is now just a few sleeps away and we can’t wait. What could be better than spending your weekend watching the finest golfers in the world tackle the finest course in the world? Picking the winner maybe…Our prediction is that left Phil Mickelson will come good at a course he loves and claim a 4th green jacket, however rookie Jon Rahm could be there abouts and if Jordan Spieth can put the demons of last year behind him, a good show is expected from the young American. So sit back and enjoy one of the greatest shows on Earth, we know we will be.