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Opinion

2009 Masters Champion will not be Tiger Woods

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April 9, 2009

The course has been set up for only one person to win and that man, Tiger Woods, will not be wearing the green jacket in the Butler’s Cabin on Sunday evening.

After he torched the field in the 1997 Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club has had numerous facelifts to guard against such a lopsided margin.

Trust me; I would love to see him win. It is great for the sport of golf and the fans.

They spend big money on the event and want to see the world’s best at the top.

With Augusta being notorious for its hills and awkward lies in the fairway, this will be the first tournament Woods will be in where it will test his recently repaired knee.

He played in the World Golf Championship match play in Arizona and at Bay Hill; both do not have the undulation Augusta has.

One advantage Woods has against the field this week is his short game.

While injured, he was able to spend more time putting and chipping, which is what helps players score well, especially at the Masters.

His length off the tee will not be as much as a factor like it used to.

Woods use to overpower players and courses, which coined the term “Tiger Proofing,” courses, so he could not blow away the field.

This has not been the case at the Masters the last two years.

Iowa native Zach Johnson won in 2007, who is known to be one of the shorter hitters on the PGA Tour.

In his four rounds, he laid up on all 16 par fives he played and had 11 birdies. He hit shots in the right position and used his superb wedge play to calm Woods, who was playing a group behind him on the final day.

Last year it was South African Trevor Immelman. Same thing for him.

Yet again, he played to his strengths and made minimal mistakes and garnered the green jacket, the first South African since Gary Player to win.

The last big bomber to win the Masters was in 2006, that being Phil Mickelson.

“Lefty,” has the power to keep up with Woods, but it is his imagination and touch around the greens that won it for him.

With the course being lengthened it has only increased the risk-reward ratio for the big hitters like Woods and Mickelson.

On the back nine, two par fives, holes 13 and 15 are reachable in two.

Problem is Ray’s Creek runs in front of the green on 13 and has collected many Titlists throughout the years.

There is also the big pond in front of 15. The green dries out faster than most on the course, which makes it harder to hold a second shot, but even a layup and a wedge shot are not safe.

I’ve seen so many players spin a ball off the green and into the pond with the hopes of a green jacket drowning for that year.

Woods is near the top of his game, evidence of his victory at Bay Hill two weeks ago, but this is the Masters, the first major of the year.

He is the one to take down, even when he is wounded.

Players practice more, workout for a change and have become more creative since he has joined the tour. They are finally catching up to him, at least a little bit.

The best players in the world will be at Augusta National this week and one of them will find a way to win.

The aforementioned Mickelson has won twice. He has just as much game as Woods does and has been lying in the weeds during the last few majors, so he might be due.

Another solid wedge player is Jim Furyk. Along with his short game, many golf analysts wonder why he has not won the Masters yet.

Sergio Garcia. Just kidding. You have to be able to putt well to win the Masters. Do we dare look back at the 2008 British Open?

Garcia has an excuse for everything and I am sure there will be plenty after his rounds are finished.

One person that has been quiet this year is the champion of the last two majors, the British Open and PGA Championship, Padraig Harrington.

So far, a slow year for him, but he is starting to come around. Harrington has always played well at Augusta and do not expect anything different this week.

However, my pick to win is Stuart Appleby.

Solid ball striker, great off the tee and a pretty good putter.

Appleby has been in the hunt at this tournament before and is hungry to finally win it, beating out the almighty Tiger Woods.

Justin Magill is a student at UW-River Falls.