19 April 2016
Now It’s My Turn!
In the aftermath of the Tiger Woods’ era, the 2016 Masters Tournament looks set to present exciting performances. The world’s top golfers have all been preparing for the chance to win the first major of the year at Augusta National. Who will rise to the top?
As part of his preparation for the 2016 season, Rory McIlroy underwent laser eye surgery on December 10th last year. In-line with his main goal, to claim the World No.1 spot this season, another goal on Rory’s list is to win his first green jacket at the Masters Tournament. Winning the Masters would complete his career Grand Slam.
The 26-year-old has been preparing seriously in order to achieve a great result at Augusta. After playing in the Northern Trust Open on February 18th-21st, McIlroy had a schedule to compete in five more tournaments over six weeks, hoping to reach his peak in the first major of the year.
“I think the Masters at this point of the year is on pretty much everyone’s mind,” said Rory, as quoted by Augusta Chronicle. “You’re building up to it. You’ve got some great events between now and then, but obviously I’d love my game to be in peak shape for Augusta in April.”
There’s no doubt that all players prioritize the prestigious Masters. Every participant has a chance to win the green jacket, however, in to addition Jordan Spieth who is the defending champion, Rory sits at the top of that contender lists. The 80th edition of the Masters on April 7th-10th will be an interesting battle.
One player who is unlikely to be in contention for the title is Tiger Woods. Plagued by injury, the former world No.1 hasn’t won a major since 2008, and is no longer perceived as a threat by other players. Tiger’s dream to claim his 15th major title, and his 5th Masters win, will be difficult to achieve.
Tiger released a statement on March 2nd saying he has been practicing chipping and putting at home in Florida as part of his recovery from back surgery. “The big thing right now is trying to get stronger and more flexible," said Woods on his website. "Sitting out as long as I did, some weakening occurred, and I have a lot of work ahead of me. While there is no timetable on my return to competitive golf, I want to play this game at the highest level again. In order to do that, I have to get healthy."
So, with the days of Tiger’s dominance behind us now, who are the other top contenders? Many of the world’s best golfers will take part in the 80th year at Augusta. As we discussed, Jordan and Rory are at the forefront of the list. Jordan is attempting to become the first player since Tiger, who won in 2001 and 2002, to win back-to-back green jackets.
Another strong contender is Jason Day. After taking three months off following the President’s Cup in October last year, Jason has had a slow start to the season, only playing in three events up until the end of February. Although his performance this year doesn’t make him look like a likely champion of the Masters, the 28-year-old’s dominance over the second half of last season, which placed him at No. 2 in the world, is something that cannot be underestimated.
After underperforming in the first three events of this season, Jason sought advice from Tiger to strengthen the mental side of his game. “I’ve always said it; once I improve the mental game for myself, this is the last piece of the puzzle for me, I believe, and I think I’ll be able to go out there and just kind of kill it,” said Jason, as quoted by USA Today. It is this killer instinct that helped Jason to win four events in his last nine starts of the 2015 season, including the PGA Championship.
Having not yet won a major, Rickie Fowler shares Rory’s obsession to win at the Masters. He proved in 2014 that he has the ability to be in contention, having finished in the top five of each major. This experience, and his current ranking of 5th in the world, shows it’s possible Rickie will be able to realize his dream at Augusta.
Speaking of experience, two-time Masters champion, Bubba Watson is looking for his third green jacket. The 37-year-old, who won in 2012 and 2014, certainly has the experience, and even visited Augusta National with his wife for a scouting trip in March. His game has been consistent through the 2016 season so far. His win at the Northern Trust Open, in the third week of February, sends a message that he can compete with the young guns who seem to dominate coverage these days.
Whether it is Rickie claiming his first major, Rory or Jason adding to their major tallies, Jordan or Bubba taking home another green jacket, or a surprise winner, the 2016 Masters will keep every golf fan glued to their TV throughout the weekend.
2016 Masters Odds
The 2016 Masters starts on April 7 with some of the top players in the world and some of the greatest amateurs competing together. According to Golf.com and Bovada.com, Jordan Spieth, last year's record-setting champ, is the odds-on favorite.