THERE’S nothing like US Masters week to get the golfing juices flowing and ahead of the 2015 edition there are numerous storylines to heighten the interest.
The 2013 champion Adam Scott is back with the long putter and apparently revelling in being a new dad who is flying under the radar somewhat at Augusta National.
Serial Masters performer Jason Day is feeling fully fit and rearing to go and is a golfer marked by many to be a strong contender to take out his first major this year. Day loves the big stage.
At the other end of the spectrum there’s 19 year old Anthony Murdaca, at least contending to take out the leading amateur title, won for the first time by an Australian in Oliver Goss last year.
Australia’s other entrants Marc Leishman (in some doubt due to his wife’s illness), John Senden and 2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy all have the talent to seriously contend.
Then we have Tiger Woods, surprisingly swooping back from the chipping yips rehab centre (or whatever his process might more accurately be describes as), and world No.1 Rory McIlroy going for his third straight major and a career Grand Slam of the four big events.
Personally, apart from the Aussies we’re leaning toward current Australian Open champion Jordan Spieth.
The 21 year old Texan lost a playoff to JB Holmes at the Shell Houston Open on the weekend and you can’t help but be impressed by his great form and calm demeanour. Last year Spieth missed the cut in Houston and then was runner-up at the Masters. This year? The stars could be aligning.
Toss in the likes of defending champion Bubba Watson (he’s so popular 22.6 percent of his peers say they wouldn’t help him out in a fight), the resurgent big hitting Dustin Johnson, three time champion Phil Mickelson (who couldn’t sink a putt on the weekend but things seem to change when he hits Magnolia Lane) and all the locals and internationals we haven’t mentioned.
US Masters Betting
When it comes right down to it, it’s the odds people are willing to punt on that show true commitments.
From Paddy Power (chosen for no other reason than we like the name and there’s no Aussie bias) we have McIlroy at 11/2, Watson and Spieth at 10/1, Day 12/1, Scott 18/1, Henrik Stenson, Mickleson 20/1, Jimmy Walker 22/1, Rickie Fowler 30/1 and Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar 33/1.
Some other selected notables are Lee Westwood 40/1, Sergio Garcia 45/1, Luke Donald 100/1, Leishman 175/1 … and Tiger Woods 50/1. If you like experience, Tom Watson is a steal at 2000/1 (along with Murdaca).
Crenshaw bows out
The 2015 edition of the Masters will also be the last for Ben Crenshaw, 20 years after winning his second Green Jacket
1.”Winning this tournament and getting to No. 1 in the world; that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
2. “For me, I had a disappointing year last year with my injuries… but for me to be healthy, fit, and really focussed on trying to get better with my body, trying to get better as a player, I feel a lot more confident.
“I always wanted to be the first Australian [to win the Masters]. Adam got there, and I’m okay with being the second Australian to win.”
3. “It’s always good to be back here and playing here. It means you’re doing something right. I got off to great start this year, but it’s exciting to be back to a place that I absolutely love. Just being out there since Thursday of last well, I got here Thursday, but Friday; started practicing Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today. Got some good sessions in. And I was just looking forward to the chance of hopefully putting on that green jacket at the end of the week.”
1.“Over the past five years I’ve developed such a good feeling of playing Augusta that I feel extremely comfortable around there.
“Topped off by winning obviously helps the confidence a lot. It somewhat feels like going back to my home track.”
2. “Guys have won it a couple of times quite close together because I think you do develop a real knack for playing Augusta. Winning that first time really helps.
“You know you can win around there and not everyone goes in with that.”
“I’m playing in the Masters,” Woods announced Friday on his website. “It’s obviously very important to me, and I want to be there.
“I’ve worked a lot on my game and I’m looking forward to competing. I’m excited to get to Augusta and I appreciate everyone’s support.”
“I never wanted to try to break records or looked at someone and said I wanted to do that,” McIlroy says. “I just wanted to win the biggest golf tournaments in the world and be the best player in the world.
“Now it’s more I want to be the best player I can be because I know if I can do that hopefully it’s going to be better than anyone else. Now it’s all self-motivation.”
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[2015 Leaderboard and Tee Times links may not have been updated/populated by the US PGA Tour at time of publication. Check back closer to event.]