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John Hawkins - April 4, 2012

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Hawkins wrote an article on GolfChannel.com in which he believes that the Augusta National was Tiger-proofed with the significant changes in 2002. Tiger has only won once since the work that was done after the 2002 tournament but he has not won since changes were made after the 2005 Masters. The changes took away many of the original angles of the Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie design which allowed Tiger to play and succeed on the course from many different places due to offline tee shots. The changes force Tiger and everyone else to play the course a certain way and places a bigger premium on accuracy.

The place where the changes have affected Tiger the most is the par 4 11th hole. Back in 2002, new trees were planted along the right side where Tiger used to attempt to hit a long drive to leave himself with a short iron. The hole is much harder now for Tiger as well as everyone else and we also remember 2007 where Tiger broke a club trying to hit from behind a tree on his way to a runner-up finish.

Among Masters favorites, while he certainly believes that Tiger Woods will play well, he is not the favorite. Phil Mickelson is the favorite in his mind although Rory McIlroy deserves a mention as well in this conversation.

When it comes to sleeper picks, he mentioned K.J. Choi and Mark Wilson. Choi has contended into the second nine on Sunday a few times while Mark Wilson’s game reminds him of 2003 Masters Champion Mike Weir in that Wilson has a great short game but is not a long hitter.