2011 Masters Preview: Hard. Hitting. Action.

The sport of golf is sort of like our office Chia Pet.

It goes for months at a time without water, gets thrown in the trash, is set on fire during BC happy hour functions, and continues to amaze with its unwillingness to simply die and go away.

We call him Chia Brett. You'd have to work here to get it.

Golf provides worthy off season fodder for the pleated set while offering derisive entertainment for those who stubbornly refuse to wield the big stick and go low. The truth is they can't afford the membership fees, playing Pebble Beach is on their secret Bucket List that nobody will ever see, and anybody who calls that roster of unfulfilled dreams a Bucket List should be beaten over the head with a 5 iron. Truths, all of them.

Recently watered and sporting full April plumage, Chia Brett is ready to hump Jim Nantz into submission. So let's just pick the damn Masters winner, shall we? (Yes I know the tournament has already started. Trips Right will also have his Butler/UConn preview up any day now ... 5-7 changed everything.)

Your winner is Phil Mickelson.

Green Jacket spotted in the drive thru at Krispy Kreme...that's confidence, folks.

Perhaps the nicest guy on the course and the biggest Golf Prick off of it, Lefty finishes in the top five almost every year at Augusta, winning when he feels like it, despite purposely hitting the ball in the trees off the tee as an added challenge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh1ZVLuZdvE

In golf parlance, that's called a Golf Shot.

I think it's a given that Phil could win every tournament by 10 strokes if he wanted to. So what's holding Phil back? We all know about the deal between he and Mack back in 2005 to go win a national title and a Masters. What you don't know it that 5-7 was also a carefully hatched plan over fine cigars and tequila as an excuse for Mack to fire Greg Davis. It's the only logical explanation. And if Phil chooses not to make the cut this year and a Euro walks away in a Green Jacket, now you know why.

They made another deal.

So who else has a shot?

Dustin Johnson

Probably better than you.

Dustin pulled a Sergio at last year's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, chunking a two shot lead on 18 for grounding his club in sand that he assumed wasn't a bunker that was actually a bunker. One shot penalty. Golf is complex like that. Some sandy areas are bunkers, others are not and this course was like Iwojima in the middle of Wisconsin, pocked by 2,000 fucking sand traps. The same golfing gods that torture srr50 ultimately disfavored young Dustin Johnson as well, gifting the Open trophy to the most boring golfer since Bob Tway, Martin Kaymer.

Strengths: He still hits the piss out of the ball (there are detectable traces), plays fast and fearless but with an eery calm. Elite athlete with standing broad jump and 3-cone drill times that would place him in the 80th percentile of the NFL. Nothing seems to phase him, not even losing the US Open to a rule technicality.
Intangibles: Great sideburns, definitely smokes pot, wears white pants better than Scipio.
Weaknesses: Knowledge of PGA rules. Misses tee times. Takes too many risks. Wears white pants.

Tiger

Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha!

The strongest part of Tiger's game during his ten year reign was his mental approach to the game. But his brain is still scrambled by strange, swing coaches, cursed putters, and the fact he hasn't won any tournament in more than two years. The swing is coming around but I don't see Tiger getting over the hump. Literally, and spiritually. Dude just loves sex!

The Euros: Lee Westwood, Rory Mcilroy, Ross Fisher, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Justin Rose

Some of those guys are in this picture. They all look alike to me.

Half of Europe has qualified for this year's Masters and unfortunately they're all playing well. This particular fleet brings a nice collection of pastel clothing, bad accents, worse teeth, general disdain for the US from Ryder Cup play, and clutchy play on Sundays when it counts. Except Justin Rose. He sucks. McDowell picked up his first major in last year's US Open at Pebble Beach, then closed the deal for the Euros in the Ryder Cup. Not a bad year for the Irishman and he'll be paired with Tiger and Aussie Robert Allenby in the first two rounds.

McDowell's fellow countrybloke Rory Mcilroy is the Shane McGowan of the tour, sipping whiskey out of a fake putter at the turn before sinking 80 foot putts on the back nine. He can string together 6 birdies in a row like I can double bogies when my game is really on.

Westwood and Harrington are always in the mix in these things. Westwood is one of the few likable Euros and looks like he was born in a rugby scrum. Doesn't fag out like Sergio with money on the line. I always vocally root for Harrington to win any tournament just to see if anyone can decode his greenside interview from 18. Ehhhhhhh ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gwl2tEB9uy8

Back to the German, Martin Kaymer. Produced in a lab somewhere in rural Bavaria, Kaymer is mechanically perfect, emotionally void, and also happens to be the top ranked player in the world. Huh? That's what winning a PGA Championship and finishing fourth in every other tournament will get you.

Luke Donald is playing better than anybody right now but has never put it all together for a Major. Could it finally be his year?! I suppose. John Daly could also drop his pants on 18 and I wouldn't be surprised. Especially since he wasn't even invited.

Also keep any eye on those other Euros, those toothy South Africans: Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, and my dark horse SA-Euro, Charl Schwarzel. His family was too poor to name him Charles and he grew up bailing hay until he said fuck this I'm vagabonding around the world and playing golf. Well done, lad. He's been cleaning up on the Euro tour this year.

Some Golf Prick in my office said to keep an eye out for Martin Laird. Sounds regal but I had no clue who he was because I don't sit around watching the Golf Channel at night. I told Golf Prick to keep an eye out for a Titleist to your thorax.

Young Guns

Final leaderboards in 2011 have been littered with some young names you may not be familiar with such as Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, and Gary Woodland -- they all have a shot on Sunday. Or they might all miss the cut.

But if you see one of these guys in the top 5 on Sunday, tell your buddies you read all about it on Barking Carnival, your worldwide leader in Golf Prick coverage, brought to you once a year simply because spring football practice and March Madness have sadly ended and there is little else to talk about.

Golf is all about routine, so shine up those concho belts, double iron those triple-pleated chinos, practice your golf swing in the elevator and say it with Jim Nantz ... "The (pause) Massssterrrrrzzzz."

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