Augusta Observations

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A few random and not-so-random things you should know about the Masters before the balls go in the air Thursday and all of us start micro-focusing on our pool picks:
 
  • There is no favorite in this years Masters. Tiger Woods is the betting favorite. But because of recent poor form he will not be the automatic first pick in all those Masters fantasy drafts the way he has been in recent years.
     
  • If current form is your prime concern, its hard to ignore Phil Mickelson. Mickelson currently sits atop the PGA Tour money list for the first time in almost six years. He has seven top 10s in eight events this season. And he has finished third in each of the last three Masters. If you rely more heavily on past form, well, yes, Mickelson has never won a major championship.
     
  • Heres a statistic no one should ignore: Davis Love III enters this Masters with the longest current streak of not three-putting--169 holes.
     
  • When Gene Sarazen holed his famous double eagle on the 15th hole in 1935, there was a debate on what it should be called. Many people still prefer the term albatross to double eagle. Whatever you want to call it, a 2 on a par-5 is a rare bird. Sarazen referred to it as a dodo.
     
  • I believe the Masters made a mistake when it invited Chinas Lian-Wei Zhang to play in this years tournament. Zhang is the first Chinese player to win on the European Tour. But a much more deserving Asian is Thailands Thongchai Jaidee. Jaidee has also won on the Euro Tour. His current world rank is 68th. Zhangs is a distant No. 181.
     
  • Seve Ballesteros will be missed. The bad back that has forced him from this years tournament makes it the first time he hasnt teed it up in a Masters since 1977. Adam Scott was not yet born then.
     
  • Quietly, Vijay Singh has moved ahead of Tiger Woods in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, a ranking system that places more importance in results from the last 52 weeks than the Official World Golf Rankings which count more heavily on a two-year period.
     
  • This is not just Arnold Palmers 50th Masters, it is his 50th STRAIGHT Masters. Highlight: From 1957 through 1967 Palmer won four Masters and finished no worse than ninth. Lowlight: Palmer has missed his last 20 cuts at Augusta National.
     
  • Jose Maria Olazabals 71.55 career scoring average at the Masters is the best for anybody with more than 50 rounds at this tournament.
     
  • Only three players have won the Masters on their first try: Horton Smith in 1934, Gene Sarazen in 1935 and Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
     
  • John Daly has a new driver in the bag this week. Its a Dunlop prototype Loco. If he makes a two on any of Augusta Nationals Par-5s, it will probably be the tournaments first Loco dodo ever.
     
  • There are 17 first timers in the field.
     
  • The last five major championship winners have been players who hadnt previously won a major. Kind of makes you think of Mickelson again, doesnt it?
     
  • No major championship has ever been won two years in a row by a lefthander.
     
  • Mike Weir, the defending champion, is a lefthander.
     
  • There is a first for almost everything.
     
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    Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Tee Times
  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters