WELL here it is, US Masters week and once again it should be a beauty.
We have six Australians, the now 50 year old Fred Couples in great form and rated a serious chance and Tiger Woods finally able to sit in front of an unrestricted media conference and empathically declare: “Nothing’s changed, going to go out there and try to win this thing.”
Australia’s contingent includes Robert Allenby, Nathan Green, Marc Leishman, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and John Senden.
Unfortunately, Michael Sim has been a late withdrawal from what would have been his first Masters because of a shoulder injury.
As we reported elsewhere, the rejuvenated Freddie Couples has won the past three Champions Tour events and after four tournaments is an amazing 77 under par.
But 18 years after winning at Augusta can he do it again?
At least, he may do what Australia’s 53 year old Greg Norman did at the British Open in 2008 and then Tom Watson repeated (oh so agonisingly) the following year – threaten to be the first over 50 year old to win a Major – and in doing so to give a further boost to all the older golfers around the planet.
The oldest major winner record currently stands with Julius Boros, who won the 1968 US PGA aged 48.
Jack Nicklaus is the oldest Masters winner, taking the 1986 green jacket at the age of 46.
Legendary coach Butch Harmon says Couples is hitting the ball longer and is brimming with confidence.
“The way he is playing right now, the way he is hitting the driver and putting the ball, I wouldn’t be surprised if he contended at Augusta National,” Harmon said last week.
But of course, this week more than ever is going to be the Tiger Woods show.
Woods appeared surprisingly relaxed and confident at his first full media conference since “the troubles” and spoke of his eagerness to be back on the first tee.
You can read a full transcript of the interview here, or watch the YouTube video below.
(Photo shows Fred Couples teeing off during a practice round this week at Augusta – a good photo to get you prepared for all the dappled foliage images you’ll be seeing relentlessly on your tv screen beginning Friday morning.)