Another Masters Tournament is here. The older I get, the quicker these seem to come around.
One thing that never changes is the excitement this week brings. I don't know if it is spring fever, the combination of March Madness and the start of baseball season, or simply having golf's most prestigious event in our own backyard, but I love Masters Week.
Sure, there is more traffic to deal with, and if you go out to eat, you might have to wait a bit longer, but the good easily outweighs the bad for our community.
From a financial standpoint, businesses will have more money in the registers and many locals cash in, too. Some rent their houses, while others, including many young people, make a nice chunk of change doing side jobs.
Whether you are chauffeuring a group of business men or getting a big tip from out-of-towners, everyone seems to get some type of boost in the wallet this week.
Obviously, someone's wallet will get a bigger boost than most: the Masters winner. More than $1 million goes to the lucky soul who comes out on top. Along with the winning check they earn instant status as a major champion and get one of the best awards a golfer can receive: a lifetime pass to join us each April.
Yes, it is safe to say I love Masters Week.
Now, for the golf itself.
Obviously all eyes will be on Tiger Woods as he plays in his first major after his knee surgery and an eight-month layoff. That is certainly understandable. He is golf and possibly all sports' biggest star. Also, he let it be known he was ready by making birdie at the 72nd hole to claim victory two weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Tiger is, and should be, the favorite for anyone picking the 2009 champion. As I told a co-worker the other day, "If Tiger shows up he is the favorite, period." Well, he did show.
Also here is Greg Norman. The Shark has had so many near misses, and what a story it would be if he could contend. He played well at last year's British Open and didn't look bad last week in Houston, but it would be a surprise if he was in the hunt Sunday.
It would certainly be nice if former Augusta State University golfer Oliver Wilson could make some noise this week, but again, not likely.
There are a few other names that might be in the mix on the back nine come Sunday. Here a few who I feel could contend this week:
- Stewart Cink (United States)
- Paul Casey (England)
- Sergio Garcia (Spain)
- Anthony Kim (United States)
- Phil Mickelson (United States)
- Adam Scott (Australia)
- Danny Lee (Amateur/New Zealand)
And my pick to take home the green jacket (keeping in mind that Tiger is too easy to choose): Australian Geoff Ogilvy.
Ogilvy finished in the top 16 in all four majors a year ago and has won twice in 2009. He doesn't have a top 10 finish in four Masters appearances, but I think all that changes this year.
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