Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tiger vs. the Field

First off, I'd like to thank the brothers Sponge for inviting me on board. I'm looking forward to sharing my views on all things Florida sports.

Naturally then, my first post will not be about Florida sports, per se. Although with PGA National headquarters, the golf capital of the world, and hundreds, if not thousands of courses in South Florida, golf is surely of interest to many Floridian sports fans.

The Masters tournament begins tomorrow morning, with the first twosome going off at 8 a.m. It's been widely publicized that Tiger Woods thinks the Grand Slam (that would be winning the Masters, the British Open, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship) is more attainable this year then ever before, and having won 4 of the 5 tournament's he has entered this year, it wouldn't surprise me if he took all 4 (in the tournament he didn't win, Tiger finished a disappointing 2 shots behind winner Geoff Ogilvy).

Besides Tiger, who else to watch for? Well, Phil Mickelson is the perennial #2, although he hasn't played his best golf so far this year. Ernie Els is always a popular choice, although he hasn't been quite the same since his collapse at Dubai. Despite winning the Honda Classic, he has since missed the cut at the PODS Championship and came in 75th at the WGC.

The tough question is, once you get past the "big 3" (no, not Arnie, Gary, and Jack), who would you bet on? I bring to you my "others-to-watch" at Augusta.

One of the hottest players this year has been Geoff Ogilvy. After missing the cut in the first 3 tournaments of the year, he has posted 3 top-10 finishes, including a win against the best in the world at the WGC-CA Championship. A 2nd place two weeks ago at the Shell Houston Open should have Ogilvy going into the Masters with a full head of confidence.

Perhaps you're looking for a young, up-and-comer to challenge Tiger this year? Take a look at Adam Scott. The 27-year old Aussie has long been on the list of players who might challenge Tiger. However he hasn't quite lived up to the hype yet. Until now. This year, he has posted 3 top 20-finishes plus a win at the 2008 Qatar Masters on the European Tour. The only thing going against Scott is an illness that forced him to withdraw from the Shell Houston Open 2 weeks ago (he still posted an opening round 63). Should he be fully healed and rested, he could post some low numbers.

Maybe you, like myself, don't think any of these "young-guns" have the experience or toughness to go toe-to-toe with the Tiger. Well here's a long shot for you, Bernhard Langer. No one has been hotter on the Champions Tour. 6 of 7 times he's gone out this year, he's finished in the top 25, including a 3rd place and 2 victories. Langer is a 2-time Masters Champion ('85, '93). Yes, it would be a surprise to see Langer's name near the top of the leaderboards, but he's confident and experienced. Langer to show would not be a bad bet.

So there you have 3 players you might not otherwise think of. The common names are out there too, Tiger, Phil, Ernie, Vijay... There are 93 players in the field, 1 Tiger. Who would you bet on? (I'll take T. Woods)

Check back here throughout the tournament for updates and observations.

1 comment:

ASponge said...

We so often take Tiger for granted because he's so good.

You really have to step back and realize how incredible it is that we'd consider taking anyone over "the field," and I think I'd go Tiger in a heartbeat.

I'm very curious to see how Langher does now. If he contends, you're genius of the week (a distinction held by DSponge for quite some time).