Heading into the weekend at the Masters you couldn’t ask for a better leaderboard. Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, two of Europe’s absolute finest, are atop the leaderboard at -8. Tiger is right where I thought he’d be, tied for 3rd at -6 in a group that also includes Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim.
As far as my predictions go, so far half of them are looking good and half of them are dismal at best. I felt like I had to pick either Camilo Villegas or Anthony Kim — the two young studs of golf. I chose Camilo as he has had a much better season, although in retrospect I’m not surprised that he’s struggled a bit (tied for 33rd at +2). Villegas is a lowball hitter whereas Kim hits the ball on a much higher trajectory — a key to holding Augusta’s slick greens. Ernie Els is tied for 21st at even par, and you can see the frustration on his face. He’s actually played quite well except for two double bogeys which have thrown off both of his rounds. He’s still right in the thick of it though. Fred Couples, my sleeper, is right in it as well at -3. Althought he’s now on the senior tour, this guy is so talented that he won the 1992 Master’s using a wooden women’s driver. Jim Furyk is struggling, but he’s a bit of a short hitter. Geoff Ogilvy has had a horrible tournament, which suprises me as he tends to play best in big tournaments and hits it long with a very high trajectory.
As for Tom Watson, the dude is old as hell but damn is he good. He opened yesterday with a 67 but followed it up today with a 74. Don’t expect a near win out of Watson ala the British Open last year. I would look for him to continue to slide — you just can’t play Augusta consistently when you’re hitting 3-irons into greens where other players are hitting 7 or 8-irons. But you have to admire how well he has managed to play.
As far as the weekend goes, Lee Westwood is legit. He may not be the most famous name out there, but this guy is awesome. He shines every Ryder Cup and wins all over the place in Europe. Although he hasn’t had tons of success in the US or in the majors, he’s the real deal and his game suits Augusta. I wouldn’t bet against him. I’d look for Ian Poulter to fall a bit. Although he may be the best player in all of Europe, he hits it very low. If he squirts a shot or two under pressure his ball will end up in a creek much too quickly. He’s got a great short game that should keep him on the first page of the leaderboard.
There are only two names on the leaderboard ahead of Tiger. He’s got an even better shot at winning this thing than I thought. And you know how badly he wants it. Watch out.