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EastStandBlue

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The Masters at Augusta is one of the most eagerly anticipated sporting events, this year given more impetus by the not-so-surprising return of Tiger Woods.

At the risk of overshadowing a landmark event in the golfing calendar, Woods has pledged to put his previous indiscretions behind him and compete. The eventual media circus that followed him was ever so predictable, badges allowing entry to the prestigious course trading for just under 10,000USD.

Tiger will be looking to make this Major number 15, but it might just come too soon for Woods to find his rhythm after such a period out of the game and consistently find the shots on what is an extremely challenging course. Of course, nobody knows this course better than Woods, winning this tournament no less than four times previously. Phil Mickelson spoke at great length about fully expecting a Tiger challenge, but he probably didn’t see his practice round...

With Woods having to contend with mounting pressure and press coverage, this year could prove to be the best chance for an Englishman to reign supreme and look no further than Paul Casey. The world number six believes it’s about time an Englishman won a Major for the first time since Faldo in ’96, and he probably possesses the best chance coming into Augusta in fine form. He may have pulled out of the Houston event last week, citing an injury to his neck and shoulder, but it should stand up having been rested.
Other notable English golfers who will harbour Major hopes are Ian Poulter, so confident of a win he pulled out of his practice round after nine holes so not to miss any of Arsenal’s Champions League game against Barcelona, and Lee Westwood, who placed third in two Majors last year and will look to build upon his European Golfer of the Year award.

The Big Easy is also a major contender for this tournament as he’ll look to add the Masters to his cabinet of Major wins. Els, now 40, is another golfer who enters Augusta playing some excellent golf and won the Bay Hill event last week to prove his crudentials and this has been reinforced by his classification as third favourite, just behind Woods and Mickelson.

A rank outsider with a good chance to place is KJ Choi. He has previous on this course, finishing third in 2004 and is now more than experienced to deal with the pressure of a continued charge. He’s been paired with Woods for the opening round, but at 40 years old he’s too long in the tooth to let the extensive media coverage get to him.

A European worthy of a flutter is Edoardo Mollinari. The Italian, who competes with his brother Francesco in doubles events, is a former Amatuer champion and finished as runner up to Els in the Bay Hill event. He’s capable of long drives and is a neat and tidy golfer, vital for this course. Choi enters in at 66/1, whereas Mollinari is further back at 150/1 and is well worth at least £1 each way.

Away from title contention, spare a thought for Matteo Manassero. The 16 year old Italian is set to become the youngest ever player to contend for the Masters and has earned high praise from his compatriot on the tour Mollinari, who claims he plays golf far beyond his years. He’s no stranger to Major competitions, becoming the youngest player to win the British Amateur title in 2009 and earning himself a T13 finish in the British Open in the same year, whilst recieving high praise from golfing legend Tom Watson. Wary of what would be a shock of preposterous proportions, Ladbrokes have him marked at 300/1.
 
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It's likely to be the sports story of any year if Woods does win in Augusta, but I don't think he will. He will get some benefit as the Masters is tightly controlled and if he is heckled the perpetrator will find himself outside quicksmart. I just hope we don't hear the normal American shout of in the hole as he tees off, as it may have a new connotation.

Taking this a little off topic, I hope Woods manages to play in the Ryder Cup this year, as undoubtedly the Americans are weaker with him in the team.
 

EastStandBlue

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I can't see Woods playing in the Ryder Cup this year... He's never been the most liked on the circuit and his extra marital activity will only ostracise him from the team more.
 
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I agree with you, it's because he's not liked that makes the American team weaker. You could see the way that Azinger had a relaxed team two years ago without Woods. Prior to that Woods has a pretty poor Ryder Cup record, and the year that Hal Sutton teamed him with Mickleson made the match easy for the Europeans.
 

Southend Neil

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I can't see Woods playing in the Ryder Cup this year... He's never been the most liked on the circuit and his extra marital activity will only ostracise him from the team more.

But surely he will qualify in one of the 8 automatic places so dont think they could not pick him.

With regard to the Masters, if Woods win it would be nearly as amazing an achievement as when he won the US Open with a broken leg. However surely after 5 months out and being rusty will surely be too big an obstacle. I would expect him to finish around 15-20 which would still be a pretty good achievement.

My favourite player is Camilo Villegas, exciting young Colombian who I have been following for a couple of years. A very hard working, strong player who could do well, finished 13th last year, just his putting is a bit erratic.
As with any golf tournament it is really wide open and so many players can win it, I expect strong showings from Hunter Mahan and the reliable Jim Furyk.
ESB is correct about E Molinari and I would suggest Poulter is the best English hope mainly because of his ability under pressure.
 

Southend Neil

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If he wanted to withdraw, I highly doubt they'd stand in his way...

Maybe but wouldn't have thought he want to withdraw though. I'm sure he will still be their best player and he did form an unbeatable combination with Stricker at the Presidents Cup.
I know they won last time but I dont think that can be attributable to Tiger's absence. Their captain was better than ours and our big guns just didn't perform, Garcia, Westwood and Harrington didn't win a game between them and looked worn out.
 

Clinton Baptiste

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I think Woods has already mentioned he would like to play in the Ryder Cup. Of course whether he does is another matter, the crowds can be very raucous and booze-fuelled. I cant imagine too many of the other American players will be disappointed if he doesnt play.
 

EastStandBlue

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As with anything Woods has said, I reckon there's a considerable difference between what he mentions and what he actually feels. The Ryder Cup would be unplayable for him... Dumped into a team that have never liked him and, now, no longer respect him playing in an environment completely unlike what he'll experience at Augusta this weekend.

He might say he'd like to play, if anything to keep the Americans on side, but in reality I don't think there's anything he'd fancy less.
 

EastStandBlue

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woods being marked at 5/1 is proposterous.

At Augusta? I don't think so...

Woods is still the most talented golfer on the planet at this moment in time, it'll be a kind environment for him and nobody knows that course better than him. It's certainly not a bet I'd make, but his listing as favourite isn't exactly shocking.
 
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As with anything Woods has said, I reckon there's a considerable difference between what he mentions and what he actually feels. The Ryder Cup would be unplayable for him... Dumped into a team that have never liked him and, now, no longer respect him playing in an environment completely unlike what he'll experience at Augusta this weekend.

He might say he'd like to play, if anything to keep the Americans on side, but in reality I don't think there's anything he'd fancy less.

I can't see his world ranking dropping so on that alone should qualify him for the USA team. Having said that I'm not sure if these days the US team is selected on points (tournament earnings) and/or world rankings. I believe their captain now has 4 picks.

I agree and I doubt if Woods wants to play Ryder Cup, but if he's an automatic pick for the team he may find it hard to turn down in view of his current low standing with the public & probably the USPGA. It's possible by October his charm offensive may have worked and he's rehabilitated and may be able to back out of the team without too much of a backlash.
 

southend4ever

I used to play a little.
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At Augusta? I don't think so...

Woods is still the most talented golfer on the planet at this moment in time, it'll be a kind environment for him and nobody knows that course better than him. It's certainly not a bet I'd make, but his listing as favourite isn't exactly shocking.

It is... the reason it is 5/1 is because punters still want to back it. a bloke that has been out the game for so long and not practising who will have the media all over him. who's nearest rival is 10/1.
You get 3/1 on the favourite in a dog race.

There is no value in the odds. I am not saying i am ruling him out of winning but whilst he may be the best on paper that bit of paper has seen a few changes since it was last thrown about.

his listing as favourite doesnt shock me because ppl will support him and he has his own fans and followers who will always back him but personally i think there is no reason he can be priced half the odds of the next nearest
 

MrB

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Backing Els, been following the PGA tour last few weeks and he seems to be getting back to his old self again.
 

EastStandBlue

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It is... the reason it is 5/1 is because punters still want to back it. a bloke that has been out the game for so long and not practising who will have the media all over him. who's nearest rival is 10/1.
You get 3/1 on the favourite in a dog race.

There is no value in the odds. I am not saying i am ruling him out of winning but whilst he may be the best on paper that bit of paper has seen a few changes since it was last thrown about.

his listing as favourite doesnt shock me because ppl will support him and he has his own fans and followers who will always back him but personally i think there is no reason he can be priced half the odds of the next nearest

Last year, and if Ux would be so kind as to pull up Ladbrokes odds, Coral had Woods at 2/1 to win. The problems with his private life have been factored in and this is certainly the longest odds I remember seeing Woods at to win a Major... He's half the price of his nearest competitor simply because, on form, he's twice as good.

Backing Els, been following the PGA tour last few weeks and he seems to be getting back to his old self again.

Backed Els myself. The glimpses I saw of Bay Hill were very, very promising and I think he'll at least place this year.
 

southend4ever

I used to play a little.
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Last year, and if Ux would be so kind as to pull up Ladbrokes odds, Coral had Woods at 2/1 to win. The problems with his private life have been factored in and this is certainly the longest odds I remember seeing Woods at to win a Major... He's half the price of his nearest competitor simply because, on form, he's twice as good.



Backed Els myself. The glimpses I saw of Bay Hill were very, very promising and I think he'll at least place this year.

If a competitor finishes 10 under he doesn't win by 10 shots at 20 under. He is not twice as good. Massive exaggeration. He is a legend at what he does on form. But how often does he hit that form. He come onto the scene with some massive performances but hasn't bagged the amount of majors expected of him in the last 5 years.
 

MrB

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Poor old Woosie at +7 after 12. Would say that at some point former winners should stop entering but Langer and Watson seem to be doing ok!
 

EastStandBlue

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Anybody who questioned if Woods still has it or not, watch his approach shot on the 9th. You won't find a more perfectly executed hook shot, from the rough, to within 5 yards of the pin. Brilliant.
 
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