Masters wish list
Friday, April 3, 2009
Rory McIlroy will be under enormous pressure when he plays in the Masters next week. The 19-years-old is expected to contend, even though he is making his debut.
The hype surrounding McIlroy since he won the Dubai Desert Classic and moved into the world top 20 has been enormous.
Butch Harmon is on record as saying he thinks McIlroy could win the Masters. Thankfully, McIlroy not only has the game to handle such expectations, he has the personality, too.
I’m not predicting a McIlroy win, even though I’d love to see that happen. However, he’s high on my Masters wish list.
Here is what I’m hoping for from this year’s Masters:
1. Some McIlroy magic – As much as I’d love to see him win, I think that’s beyond him in his debut. I hope he gets on the leaderboard at some point in the week and finishes in the top 16 to get invited back next year.
2. A European win – We used to win this tournament on a regular basis in the days of Ballesteros, Faldo, Langer, Lyle, Olazabal and Woosnam. We haven’t won the spring classic since Olazabal’s second win in 1999. It’s time we did. Hopefully, this is the year.
3. A Scottish victory – I’d love a Scottish win… oops, silly me: there is only one Scot in the field, 1988 winner Sandy Lyle, and he has about as much chance of winning the Masters as I do. I’m afraid that’s the sad state of Scottish golf.
4. A Poulter win – If it is to be a European win, then I want Ian Poulter to pull it off. I’m biased since I consider him a pretty close friend. However, I think he’s got the game to do it if he can get the right breaks. He proved he’s good enough to win a major with his second-place finish in last year’s Open Championship.
5. Woods vs. Mickelson – If it isn’t to be a European win, then let’s see the top two players in the world going head-to-head down the stretch. Tiger against Phil in the last group on Sunday would be fantastic.
6. Four rounds from Greg Norman – Odds are that Norman won’t make the weekend considering he hasn’t played in the Masters since 2002. I’d love to see him repeat his heroics at Royal Birkdale last year, but four rounds will do.
7. Reinier Saxton to make the cut – British Amateur champions normally don’t do well in the Masters. Sergio Garcia is the last British Amateur champion to make the cut. That was in 1999. So hopefully Saxton can cut it or Augusta might consider taking away the invitation.
8. Gary Player to bow out gracefully – I know he’s a legend and his three wins means he has earned his place, but it’s time for Gary to call it a day. He hasn’t made the cut since 1998. This will be his 52nd Masters, the most by any player. It’s time for him to leave the stage to the younger guys.
9. Four-hour rounds – Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker took five hours to play the final round last year, which was appalling. If the authorities haven’t instituted a draconian pace of play rule this year, then the game is in trouble.
10. Roars – Noise has been in short supply since Augusta toughened up the course. Gone are the roars from Amen Corner and other parts of the course. It’s hard to get really excited when players are making pars. Fans want to see competitors make birdies. I agree the course had to be toughened up, given that players were hitting wedges into a lot of par 4s in previous years, but we still want to see red numbers. Let’s hope they’ve set the course up this year so we can hear the old Augusta roars.