Bookies have installed Tiger Woods as favourite to win the 2012 US Masters.
Rory McIlroy lands the number one spot. Luke Donald takes it back two weeks later and then Tiger Woods wins again, leading many to suggest “he’s back”. All this has happened in the last month and makes for one of the most anticipated US Masters in the last decade.
Along with these golfers, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood make up the top five favourites for this week’s US Masters and we take a look at each of them in this preview of the Top 5 favourites for the 2012 US Masters.
It only took one victory for Tiger Woods to assume his natural position as golf tournament favourite but how defining was the victory and does he deserve the favouritism?
The victory was a very good one. He was one of the few golfers to go under par during a windy final round at Bay Hill, but several pundits are still wary that some poor shots remain in Woods’ armoury and wonder if they’ll emerge coming down the stretch on Sunday.
One should be a little cautious of suggesting “he’s back” as he is not the same player as he was when he last won on the PGA Tour. Nor does he have the intimidation factor he used to. But he knows Augusta National better than anyone and he shot in the 60s in every round last year to finish in a tie for fourth in his first tournament back after knee surgery.
The McIlroy meltdown of 2011 is now firmly written into US Masters folklore, and one wonders if Augusta officials thought about moving the cabins further away from the 10th fairway with Rory returning. The demons of golf will be present this week and won’t disappear quickly. We as Australians know that better than anybody.
McIlroy returns to Augusta National with an older head on his shoulders and a US Open under his belt. A good opening round will almost assure us of seeing Rory in contention on Sunday and I’d expect him to at least keep his shirt tucked in through the final nine holes this time.
Mickelson’s form is patchy by his standards, despite a victory and a second place finish this year. But in similar fashion to previous years, Mickelson seems to peak perfectly for Augusta and a fourth place finish last week is ominous.
Take his last 13 US Masters appearances: Three wins, eight top-5s, and eleven top-10 finishes. It only seems like yesterday when everyone was wondering whether Mickelson would ever win a major, this week he could well be putting on his fourth green jacket.
Surprisingly, the world number one golfer is the fourth priced favourite for the US Masters and his patchy overall record at Augusta National may have something to do with it. Donald has a couple of missed cuts at Augusta with three top-10 finishes thrown in, including the tie for fourth place last year alongside Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy.
Like Woods, Donald is not the same player he once was though. He is much, much better. If you’re looking for the best bet from these five players, Donald is it.
Westwood has hardly rated a mention this week. He has been notching up very good, consistent golf all year but without a win, per usual. He’s played in 15 US Masters now with a tie for 11th last year, including a few other top-15 finishes over the past few years.
He is almost certain to be in contention on Sunday, but most would worry whether his short game will hold. I still believe Westwood will win a major one day and he’s got the Augusta experience to make it happen week.