The Masters can make or break your career as a professional golfer but its challenge is as alluring as it is intimidating. This year will be no exception.
As always the course will be in impeccable condition with fairways and greens cut so precisely, they look like they’ve been computer generated. Keen amateur golfers go weak at the knees at the thought of playing a round until the tournament kicks off and we see the speed of the greens and realise that Billy Casper’s score of 106 – which is the worst ever played at the Masters – is always in danger of being broken.
With the world’s best golfers coming head to head, this year’s winner will be too close to call but here are my three to watch:
He’s back. Tiger’s fall from grace was played out across our TV screens and splashed across the newspapers and it undoubtedly took its toll on arguably the greatest player to ever lay their hands on a club.
Three wins out of the four stroke play events he has entered in 2013 means he is red hot and he looks to have regained his knack for winning. The invincibility that looked to have deserted him is seeping back into his game.
He has donned the green jacket four times already and if you ignore his amateur years his worst finish is 22nd. It always seems that he there or there abouts and that’s simply because he is, finishing no worse than sixth in the last seven years.
His 55.8% driving accuracy is nothing to write home about but he leads the tour in putting with an average of 1.476. His infamous struggles in recent years seem to be over and with it his wait for another major.
Out of the big four Englishmen – Rose, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood – the Londoner turned Florida native looks the most likely to top the field at Augusta.
He has never missed a cut at the Masters and has battled his way to three top 11 finishes with tied-fifth being his best outing in 2007.
Rose is third in the world rankings, his highest position ever, and will go into the competition full of confidence. His average score on the PGA Tour this season have been the lowest of any player and he also leads in sand saves which will come in handy atAugustaas the bunkers are so deep you almost need to harness up and abseil in.
The major doubt hanging over him is his inability to add a notch to his win column so far this season. Will he panic if he gets into a winning position? Winning is a habit but Rose will tell you that this could start next week.
The only player in the history of golf to have won every major he has entered and one of only three players to have won a major at their first attempt. Quick Keegan, retire now!
His PGA Championship victory in 2011 came in his rookie season and raised eyebrows in the golf world. There was a new kid on the block and having won his first major in a playoff with Jason Dufner he looked to have the temperament to make it at the highest level.
He only has three wins in his career – the PGA Championship, the HP Byron Nelson Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – but then he has only been on tour for two years. He has five top ten finishes already this season, three top five finishes and missed only one cut in 2013.
Could Keegan make it two out of two? It would take something pretty special but he definitely has a good chance.