2012 Masters Preview: Hunting Tiger

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Michael Garcia - April 5, 2012

Hello, friends.

There hasn't been this much excitement around the Masters in a while, and the biggest reason is that Tiger Woods is coming off his first PGA Tour win in two and a half years. Love him or hate him, Tiger being at the top of his game makes the good players step it up, and the lesser players fall by the wayside.

The oddsmakers have Woods as the favorite at 5-1. If he plays like he did winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago, he'll be slipping on his fifth green jacket on Sunday. But there are plenty of guys who will be gunning to make sure that doesn't happen.

Tiger looked as dominant as ever at Bay Hill. He was driving the ball extremely well, he was sinking putts, and if he did find any trouble, he got out of it easily. Since his last win at Augusta in 2005, Tiger has been in the top six there every year. The last two years, he was in the top four, and that was during his slump. 

If he has indeed gotten back to his'A-game' the rest of the field should be worried. The guys who probably aren't sweating Tiger all that much include Rory McIlroy. McIlroy basically had last year's Masters sewn up going into Sunday, but he proceeded to go out and shoot 80, leading to South African Charl Schwartzel's win.

McIlroy didn't let that ruin him, and he hasn't finished outside the top ten in any tournament he's played  since late last summer. Rory has the game and confidence to get his first win at Augusta, and he doesn't seem to be worried about last year's choke job. 

Phil Mickelson has won at Augusta three times now. It seems like yesterday he was 'the best player without a major' but now he's just one of the best players, ever. Phil has been playing well this season, already notching a win at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Lefty would like nothing more than to match Tiger with 4 green jackets.

Hunter Mahan is this season's only two time winner so far, and he won last week's Houston Shell Open. It might be nice to have the momentum, but historically, winning the week before doesn't help at the Masters.

Luke Donald is currently ranked number one in the world, but he hasn't won a green jacket yet. His consistency has put Luke at the top, and he already tasted victory this season.

If you're looking for a good omen, check out Martin Kaymer during Tuesday's practice round. It's become a tradition for players to try to skip their ball across the pond on the par 3 16th hole. Kaymer did that one better by holing it out. Maybe that's just what he needed to get his week going.

Article by Eric Gray

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