The first week of April is here, and the kickoff of the golf season for many starts this week. The season of golf’s majors also starts this week on Thursday with the first round of The Masters. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the Wednesday practice round and par 3 contest (thanks to my friend Tim McCormack), and the opportunity to check out the course the day before the tournament starts (I’m actually writing this post on the way there). I’ll post photos and maybe a video or two from that soon.
On Thursday morning, the opening tee shots of the tournament will be struck by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus (I think we can look for Gary Player to fill out the trio in the next few years). Also on Thursday, 11 Nike Golf athletes will tee it up at Augusta National, here’s the full list:
Every one of these Nike athletes will be looking to conquer Augusta National’s challenging layout and come away with the green jacket and the Masters trophy on Sunday. Here I choose five that I feel have a chance at doing just that:
MY FIVE TO WATCH:
Charl won the first two events on the 2010 European Tour schedule, and has followed that up with a recent T2 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a T3 at last week’s Shell Houston Open. Look for him to be high on the leaderboard on Sunday.
Paul is primed and ready for the 2010 major season, and look for a strong showing from Paul at this year’s Masters. Paul WD’d from last week’s Shell Houston Open with a shoulder problem, which we hope will not hinder his performance at Augusta. If the shoulder is not prohibitive, look for Paul to threaten the lead on Sunday.
AK is fresh off his win at the Shell Houston Open, and he takes a high level of confidence with him to Augusta. It is rare for the previous week’s winner to win The Masters the following week, but if anyone has the confidence and game to do it, AK does.
Francesco is the younger half of the first duo of brothers to play in the same Masters tournament in 10 years. Francesco won with brother Eduardo at the Mission Hills World Cup at the end of last year, and several high finishes this year on the European Tour have him primed and ready for a breakthrough performance at this year’s Masters.
And then there’s Tiger. A lot has been made of Tiger’s return to competitive golf at The Masters, so I won’t repeat that here. Predictions have run the gamut from him missing the cut to winning. I fall in the latter category — I think he will come out and win the tournament. My rationale is this: after all that has happened in his personal life in the past several months, I think he will be more determined than ever to prove that he is still the best player on the planet.
No matter what happens this weekend at Augusta National, it is sure to be an exciting week of golf at a venue that is rich in history and tradition. We’ll have to see if one of Nike Golf’s athletes becomes part of that history by donning the green jacket on Sunday afternoon.