I made it! I’m here! It’s my favorite week of the sports year. Final Four Weekend. Baseball Opening Day. And, of course, The Masters! Name any other week that can offer so much. You can’t! Because it doesn’t exist.
Growing up in the Midwest, this week always offered the sense of new beginnings: of the baseball season and golf season. My Tigers begin their pursuit of greatness and it’s about this time of year that courses in the Midwest start seeing some action.
The only course that matters this week is the iconic, every-player’s-bucket-list Augusta National Golf Club. The setting for the PGA Tour’s first Major of the season, Augusta National’s perfection taunts us as we watch on TV – all the while wishing and hoping that we could be there.
That mystique and aura exists across the golf world. Much like an NHL player not touching the Stanley Cup until he’s won it, I know of Tour players that won’t play Augusta National until they’ve earned that Masters Invitation.
This year’s tournament will carry with it an air of sadness, as it will mark the first Masters since the passing of golf’s patriarch, Arnold Palmer. The four-time Masters champion was a fixture in Augusta for more than half a century, and he will be sorely missed this week. Be sure to catch the Opening Tee Shots on Thursday, where I am certain The King will be honored.
So what will happen this week? Will someone’s life forever be changed by becoming a first time Masters Champion, or will we see another victory for a previous winner? Here is the list of my favorites for the week:
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Jason Day
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Justin Rose
Thick limb I’m going out onto, huh? Obviously those are the favorites every week that they tee it up. Each brings with him the skill set and desire to wear the coveted Green Jacket. DJ has had an incredible run, winning the last 3 tournaments he’s played since becoming the World #1 – will he be able to continue that blazing record? Can Rory and Jordan rid themselves of Augusta demons and claim victory?
Of course, there are so many others competing this week, and just like last year, anyone can win. Some years the winner is someone we never thought of. Here is my list of second tier hopefuls I think may do well this week:
1. Brandt Snedeker
2. Sergio Garcia
3. Thomas Pieters
4. Jimmy Walker
5. Ryan Moore
No matter what happens or who wins, it is sure to be a wonderful week – my favorite of each year.
Who do you think will win?