Apr. 15, 2018
Walking Down Magnolia Lane
hat time of year to smell the roses or should I say smell the azalea blooms. Its the beginning of April and that means one thing, the Masters is upon us. There are a number of storylines heading into the 84th edition of the Masters. We have two superstars, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Speith, who will be looking to complete the career grand slam with a win. We have Tiger Woods, coming off of a stretch of 3 straight top-12 finishes, looking to turn back the clock and win a fifth green jacket. We have the world's No. 1, Dustin Johnson, who was an overwhelming favorite going into the Masters last year before a freak injury derailed his hopes. We have World No.2, Justin Thomas, who as already won this year, looking to ascend to the top spot of the rankings for the first time. Phil Mickelson, already with 3 green jackets, has resurfaced as a threat after staring Thomas down at the WGC-Mexico championship. There are so many great stories that will make this Masters one of the most anticipated in history. Rory McIlroy impressed in his last start at Bay Hill, shooting a final-round 64 to come from behind and win Arnie's tournament. It seems that a putting tip from Brad Faxon helped greatly in that final round. The question has always been about putting. We know that Rory is as long as anyone off the tee and can throw darts with the irons, but putting is usually the deciding factor whether or not he is in contention. In that final round at Bay Hill, all three facets of his game were strong. McIlroy, who started 2 shots behind, birdied 5 of his last 6 holes for a 2-shot victory. McIlroy posted his best putting week ever on the PGA Tour, gaining 10 strokes on the field putting. The driver in the final round was splitting fairways, especially on the back nine, in particular the par-5 16th were he hit a driver 375 and had just a flip wedge into the green. Speaking of back nine charges, Tiger Woods seemed poised to give us a patented Tiger charge. He started the back nine with birdies on 3 of the first 4 holes on the back side. He stood on the 16th tee, a par-5, one shot off the lead at the time. It seemed the leaders where stuck in a rut and it was Woods time to pounce. But needing no less than a birdie and maybe an eagle, he was indecisive and uncommitted and watched his chance to win veer left. Undecided on what to hit off the tee, he hit a huge hook left into a resident's back yard out of bounds. A deflating bogey followed by another at the 17th ended any hope of a Tiger comeback when. But all in all, it was a successful week for the 8-time API champion as he continues to work himself back after missing nearly 2 years due to numerous back problems. It seems that his game is rounding into form. The only thing that could hold him back is what has really been the big "if" with him throughout his career and that is the driver. If he can dial the driver in and make the misses managable, he could be a major factor at Augusta. It seems he's swinging it freely and is pain-free and if that's the case, he knows Augusta as well as anyone and can get it around and score and challenge for that 15th major and first since the 2008 U.S. Open. DJ, Justin, Phil, Jordan and a host of others will also be on the hunt to slip on the green jacket. Speith looking to complete the grand slam and has had extraordinary success at August in his career, finishing T2, 1st, 2nd, and T11, which was the worst finish he has had. Phil Mickelson will be looking to win his 4th green jacket and seems he's rounding into form at the right time, standing toe-to-toe with World No.2 Justin Thomas and prevailing in Mexico. IT will be a great tournament and the world's best will bring their best to the best atmosphere in golf.