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Friday, April 10, 2015

Storylines to Watch at the Masters

I had planned to do a piece on Phil's training to increase his club head speed -- and I still plan to do so in the next few days -- but we had so many surprises at the Masters on Thursday that I want to pick out a few storylines that were either NOT emphasized on GC or ESPN or that maybe you missed.

Jordan Spieth

Of course, I guessed Tiger would most likely shoot 70... and instead he shot 73. I was correct about his short game problems being fixed. (It was nice to hear some of the talking heads on TV actually express admiration for what he had done in such a short time.) But I failed to take into account that he probably hadn't done any work on his long game while he fixed them! That definitely changed the picture considerably.

However, while some of the TV commentators mentioned that Bubba was -3 on the par-5s despite being only -1 for the round, nobody noted that Tiger was ALSO -3 on the par-5s. Tiger's struggles with the par-5s have been cited as one of the reasons for his scoring problems. If he can start getting birdies on the par-5s consistently, the old Tiger may not be as far off as most folks think. I think this stat bears watching over the next few days.

Among my "5 to Watch," the scores were pretty good:
  • Jordan Spieth, -8
  • Jason Day, -5
  • Dustin Johnson, -2
  • Bubba Watson, -1
Only Jimmy Walker was over par at +1... and he fought for that. I of course will be watching their scores over the next 3 rounds.

The two shocker rounds were Ernie Els at -5 and Tom Watson at -1. Ernie said in the press center that, although he didn't want to admit it for a long time, he thinks the repeated defeats he suffered at the Masters earlier this century DID have a bad effect on him for a long time. But he says he's been making a lot of birdies over the last couple of weeks and is seeing some putts go in. If he truly feels good about his game, he just might pull an upset this week.

And while I don't think Tom will win, he just might make the cut. If so, there is some talk that he may decide to make this his last year playing at Augusta and go out on top. I'm not so sure about that -- Tom loves to play Augusta -- but it's another story to keep your eye on.

Did anyone note the irony that Bubba Watson beat Jordan Spieth last year with a final score of -8 after 4 rounds... and Jordan ran up -8 in just one round this year??? Do you think maybe Jordan wanted to make a point?

It's still too early to think we know how this Masters will play out. When the draw gets flipped today -- and if the weather comes in after all -- the order of the players on the scoreboard may change considerably. But I'm still looking for a duel between Jordan and Jason...

And possibly Ernie. Call me sentimental!

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