For all of us who think that Masters week is the best week of the year, getting this second chance to enjoy Augusta National in November is maybe one of the few bonuses 2020 has given us.
For us in Minnesota, we're experiencing the same weather now as we often do in April, so the local atmosphere feels about the same. I've looked through several Augusta National photos...and about the only thing I'm really missing is the Azaleas.
And, of course, the patrons.
I've been thinking about those people, who, a year and a half ago, found out they received badges for the 2020 Masters. They were beyond joyous!! And now they must wait until 2021 (we HOPE!) to have their dream day or week... AND for the rest of us, we will have to wait until 2022 to be rejected in the lottery! I'm sad for the players, too, who I think truly feed off of the electricity of the thousands of patrons who love and respect the game as well as the amazing shots and spectacular grounds. If you are a badge holder for 2020, I'm feeling you!!
This is the most disconnected I've ever felt about golf, and the Masters...and with new and different players finding their way to hoist trophies on the PGA Tour in the past year, I'm left wondering who I am going to be seeing sliding their arms in the sleeves of a green jacket on Sunday.
But if you're wondering about my Heart Picks...well, they haven't changed much. First would be Matt Kuchar. In my quick checking on Kuch's stats, I about fell over when I saw that he is currently ranked 155th in scoring average in the 2021 season (which for him started with the US Open - MC). 155th?? Oof. Four events, one MC and best finish was a T34. Huh...not a horrible 2020 season, but nothing spectacular either. Matt - I hope you find your mojo this week and find your way to a T5 finish, if not a win! GO MATT!
Next would be Phil Mickelson. I read somewhere today that Phil has "no chance" to win the Masters this year. Oh how I want him to prove them wrong!! As a member of the Golf News Net, I used their database to look up some numbers...while Phil has 3 green jackets, they all came prior to 2011. And since then he has only had 2 top 16 finishes. That just doesn't seem right! But alas, our love for Phil blinds us to his finishes the past 10 years. But my heart will go on...GO PHIL!!
A few years ago I wrote about Lee Westwood...since 2011 Westwood has had 5 top 16 finishes, with the most current being 2016. As a mostly European Tour player now, he doesn't have a lot of PGA Tour statistics to look at but he does have a couple of Top 5's since 2019. I'm still on the fan bus so I hope he has a great week.
Justin Rose has had 6 top 16's since 2011 and I've found him fun to watch at Augusta. I think he also won me prizes in the past!! :) He's been runner up twice so we'll see what he has up his sleeve this year.
Several more heart picks, with more to come later in the week... Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlory, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and of course Boom Boom.
As an aside...there are 2 players since 2011 that have their one and only top 16 finish be a win...can you name them? (answer at the bottom)
So I'll need more time to search the field, get to know some newer players I have yet to invest fan time with and figure out who my fantasy golf teams are going to be!
I know Bryson DeChambeau is the talk of the week and it sounds like his game is fine tuning to the course.
But that being said, another factor for the week is going to be the weather...Mother Nature is bringing a friend...namely tropical storm Eta which may make Augusta softer, but a whole lot longer. We'll see who will manage the elements and the course the best.
I'm getting ramped up - I'm getting excited. It's Masters Week!! YES!!
Which reminds me...my understanding is, only patrons with 2020 passes will get access to the online pro shop - I'm saying right now, if you are one with online Merchandise Tent Access and want to buy a few things for me, find me on Twitter @hopejoygolf and message me!
Happy Masters Week - see you tomorrow!!
Answer to the question: Danny Willett and Patrick Reed (hat tip to the Golf News Net database!)