GOLF: Woods, Johnson, McIlroy aim for green jacket

With the craziness of March and all the major sporting events that happen this time of year, the golf world is no exception. One can simply not help but bring to mind the Granddaddy of them all in the golf world, The Masters. 

On the first full week of April, Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia becomes full of spectators as the top golfers in the world come to compete for the most prominent and storied award in the golf world, the green jacket. 

The rich history of The Masters makes this the most prestige and well known major on the PGA tour. Dating back to 1934, the first year of the Masters tournament, The Masters quickly became one of the most popular and competitive tournaments.

The well known green jacket however, was not awarded to the winner of The Masters until 1949. Sam Snead won the Masters that year and was awarded the green jacket. Every year following, the green jacket is presented and put on the next victor of the tournament. Every professional golfers dream is to one day put on the green jacket in front of the winners of the Masters from decades before. 

Thus far in 2019, an array of talent has emerged on the PGA tour, there are several golfers that have surprised many and suddenly find themselves contending in this years Masters. 

Dustin Johnson, currently the number one golfer in the world has yet to win at Augusta National. Currently, he has the second best odds to win this years Masters. Johnson is long due to be awarded the green jacket. 

This PGA tour season, Johnson has one victory from the World Golf Championship: The Mexico Championship. 

According to CBS Sports, in his last three starts in the Masters, he has finished in the top ten, and his best finish was fourth place in 2016. He has played in the Masters eight total times and made the cut seven times. 

This year, Johnson looks to be the favorite to win and it deals mostly with his style of play fitting well with Augusta National. 

Johnson’s exceptional driving will allow him to do well on the par fives here. Statistically speaking he’s played the four par 5s at Augusta 48 times in his last three appearances at this tournament, and his combined score there is 30 under.

Putting has been on and off this year, lately he has been focusing to improve upon that. 

The main reason for concern for Johnson is his rise to the occasion at the Masters. Every year he seems to get off to a slow start and once he gains his rhythm, it is too late and coming from behind poses a difficult challenge, which he has yet to overcome. 

Every year Johnson seems to get closer and closer to winning, and this year is no different. Johnson quoted from an article in golf digest, “I’m getting closer, for sure,” Johnson said during the Valspar Championship. “I feel like the swing’s starting to feel a lot better. The shot patterns are starting to get more consistent. So now it’s the closest I’ve been to that.” 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Rory McIlroy who has the highest odds of winning the Masters has been in high contention for the green jacket for years. But, the prior two years he has found himself falling short in the final round. 

McIlroy has had five consecutive top ten finishes at the Masters, but yet to claim the green jacket. 

Coming off an impressive at the Players Championship just several weeks prior, McIlroy has turned on the jets this tour season. 

It also helps he has been one of the most consistent golfers on the PGA tour. Also worth mentioning his familiarity with Augusta National Golf Club helps his quest for claiming his first Masters victory. 

Tiger Woods has worked his way back in the golf world. With his resurgence last year coming close to winning several tournaments as well as winning the tour championship; he has suddenly put himself at the top of the list for contenders in this years Masters. 

A slight concern for Tiger deals with some minor injuries which have crept into this year. Another issue for Woods is the fact he has not teed it up for the past three Masters tournament. 

However, on the flip side of this, it is worth noting he came back in the World Golf Championship a few weeks ago and defeated Rory McIlroy in match play to advance into the next round.

Also worth mentioning Woods is a four time Masters champion so his familiarity with Augusta National Golf Club will help getting over the three year absence. 

Also, Augusta National Golf Club has holes and aspects that play in favor to Tigers golf game. 

“Another aspect working in Tiger’s favor is his ability to shape his iron shots from uneven lies. Augusta famously has a bunch of holes that turn from right to left, meaning a right-handed player will often have the ball above his feet for a second shot,” from Sports Illustrated. 

With Woods, it is a mix of good and bad so what to expect entering this years Masters will be unraveled as the tournament ensues. But, despite the inconsistencies, his golfing legacy keeps him a high contender for this years Masters. 

Another contender for this years Masters is Rickie Fowler. It is safe to say Fowler has been long overdue to win the Masters, or win a major PGA tournament for that matter. 

Coming off last years valiant effort which involved Fowler rallying on the back nine holes to the victor Patrick Reed shows he has learned the course and plans to play a mistake free four rounds of golf. 

Fowler has four top 12 finishes in the last five years at the Masters. Simply put, the time has come for Fowler to put away the critics saying he will not win the Masters. 

The main concern for Fowler going into the Masters is his ability to finish on Sunday. Fowler is a contender early but seems to struggle when it comes down to the final round. 

The list of top contenders can go on and on, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, and Tommy Fleetwood are all additional golfers who should not go unnoticed coming into this year’s Masters.