AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03: Tiger Woods hits a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
A few seconds after 7:50 AM EDT, and a few minutes after Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer smack ceremonial tee shots, The Walrus will hit the first shot of the first pairing of the 76th edition of the greatest golf tournament in the world, The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA. The Masters coincides with Easter weekend this year to upstage the death of Christ for Golf Pricks the world over. I can't wait to OD on Cadbury Creme Eggs, crawfish, and Jim Nantz's unintentional sexual imagery on Sunday.
A good jumping off point for the 2012 Masters is Jason Sobel's annual ranking of all 96 players in this year event. As he laments in his opening, he has gone serious chalk. I am with him on Woods, McIlroy, Snedeker, Mickelson, and Haas. Luke Donald needs to show something in a major, and a soft course at Augusta is not his venue. Keegan Bradley has contended at every event for the last nine months including the bedroom affections of your wife on BJ and a Steak Day. But, he has never played in The Masters. Only Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 has ever won in his rookie run, and most players first drive down Azalea Lane end in four car pileups.
If you are filling out that Master's pool while clearing the ashes of your March Madness Bracket, here are a few tips on who does well here. The Masters is completely unlike the adult video business. No Rookies, No Euros, No Amateurs. Find someone with recent top tens and a history of making the cut at Augusta. The course is playing softer than Kate Upton's sweater puppies, so young, brash bombers that don't know better may make a run (Jason Day, Robert Garrigus, Alvaro Quiros). The pool I participate in annually separates the field into three tiers. My picks are as follows, Tier one - Woods, Mickleson, McIlroy, Tier two - Mahan, Snedeker, Haas, Tier three - Thomas Bjorn, Martin Laird, Ryan Palmer. Insert applause here.
Story Lines to Watch This Week
The first story line is the media's attempt to get Augusta National Chairmen Billy Payne to comment on whether IBM CEO Virginia Rommetty will be extended an invitation to join the exclusive all male club. The last four IBM CEO's were invited as that company is one of The Masters major corporate sponsors. As a history often shows, bet on the old white guys to get what they want. They could water board Billy Payne and he wouldn't speak on club membership until he wants to comment.
Rain, delays, and the soft course are sure to be mentioned constantly by Faldo and Nantz this weekend. Earlier this week the course received 2.5" of rain and there is more in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. With perfect scoring conditions for the weekend, we may see a very low scores for the winner this year.
Obviously, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are the two big stories this year. With the best two golfers in the field seeking redemption (McIlroy for his final round choke job and Tiger for plowing ass like Jon Holmes [not JB Holmes]) CBS will be all over this angle. I expect both of these guys to be in the hunt coming through Amen Corner on Sunday, so get used to it.
The fourth theme this week will be rivalries. The entire golf world desparately wants a big time rivalry at the majors. Tiger and Phil or Tiger and Rory trading birdies down the back nine on Sunday will cause a collective Golf Prick premature ejaculation that threatens to drown us all. Look for the Golf Pricks to be sated this year.
Traditions and Oddities and Odd Traditions
One of the oddest traditions at Augusta is that during practice rounds on the 16th hole players hit try to skip a tee shot over the pond and onto the green. Martin Kaymer holed it out for an ace on Tuesday. This is fantastic luck. In Haiti.
Johnson Wagner decided over the off season that his porn name wasn't strong enough, so he grew a creepy mustache to go with it. Will this give him unknown powers over the other competitors? After Tiger sees him offering the golf groupies (shaft chokers, head covers, cock caddies I could go on for days) in the hospitality tent mustache rides, will he grow one also? Stay tuned.
The Master is again proud to broadcast live action 56 minutes out of every hour.
The Par 3 contest is a Wednesday tradition at The Masters that nobody wants to win. No winner of the Par 3, which began in 1960, has ever won the tournament. This year Padraig Harrington and Jonathon Byrd were declared co-champs of the Par 3 that was shortened due to rain. Brian Floyd from the mothership has a great article here on the Par 3.
Traditionally, the reigning champion chooses the menu for the Champions Dinner. South African Charl Schwartzel served a traditional South African barbecue of marinated and grilled filet mignon, lamb chops, and chicken with monkey gland sauce. Fuzzy Zoeller reportedly asked for a side of apartheid with his meal.
And to the picks . . .
Sleepers - Bill Haas, Robert Garrigus, The Molinari Brothers, Bo Van Pelt, Ryan Palmer
Contenders - Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson,
Low Amateur - Hideki Matsuyama
Winner - Tiger Woods