Fantasy Island The Masters

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There are almost as many storylines as there are contenders heading into the seasons first mens major. Tiger Woods returns to the Grand Slam arena for the first time since Torrey Pines, Phil Mickelson has given the golf world a glimpse of what could be on Sunday, and Padraig Harrington ' in case anyone noticed ' is eyeing his third consecutive major.
 
For the Masters edition of Fantasy Island, we will keep things simple, with each of our experts making a win, place and show pick, with only our winners earnings being applied to the season-long race.
 


 
Win: Tim Clark. Check the card the last two trips around Augusta National, the additional length may seem to favor the bombers but its been the plodders who have ruled. Last year Trevor Immelman was 1, 2 and 4 ' fairways hit, greens in regulation and putting. In 2007, Zach Johnson had a similar card, going 2nd, 4th and 10th. Clark ranks 8th in driving accuracy; 6th in GIR, 18th in putts per GIR and his runner-up finish in 2006 proved he can play the place.
 
Place: Tiger Woods. Because hes Tiger Woods and because since the 1997 clinic hes finished outside the top 5 just four times. The comeback is over, the only question is whether Woods can solve the mysteries of the overhauled Augusta National? Since the 2002 changes, Woods is 2-for-7 at the Masters. Thats a career for most players, for Woods its a curiosity.
 
Show: Mathew Goggin. Every year we pick an Australian and every we are disappointed. Geoff Ogilvy seems to have the game for Augusta National but expectations may have gotten the best of him. Goggin is playing well and could dive in under the radar to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller to win his first Masters.
 
Lagniappe (A little something extra): Bookmakers in the United Kingdom come up with the best side-action, so why not apply that ingenuity to the years first major?
 
Low Singh: Vijay, he is struggling right now, but Augusta seems to bring out the best in him.
 
Low Johnson: Would have considered Dustin before last weeks DUI. But then Zach is hardly a stretch. He was solid at Bay Hill and has a little history in Georgia.
 
Low Hansen: Normally we have two or three too pick from, but this year Soren is it.
 
In addition to my picks, the GolfChannel.com staff will be offering up their picks. A player can be picked to win a maximum of five times. We will be keeping a running tally of the monies earned each week. The participants include: Jay Coffin, Editorial Director; Mercer Baggs, Editorial Manager; Brian Koressel, Senior Producer; Dena Davis, Assistant Editor; Erik Peterson, Travel Editor; Jerry Foltz, special contributor.
 
STAFF PICKS:


NamePlayer PickReasonMoney
Rex HoggardWinner:
Tim Clark
Check the card the last two trips around Augusta National, the additional length may seem to favor the bombers but its been the plodders like Tim Clark, who have ruled. $1,719,550
Contender:
Tiger Woods
Because hes Tiger Woods and because since the 1997 clinic hes finished outside the top 5 just four times.
Dark Horse:
Mathew Goggin
Goggin is playing well and could dive in under the radar to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller to win his first Masters.
Jay CoffinWinner:
Tiger Woods
Havent picked him to win in each of his three starts so now is a good time use him at a place where hes a dead solid lock to at least finish in the top 10.$3,362,752
Contender:
Padraig Harrington
Has anyone gone for three consecutive majors with less fanfare? That plays to Harringtons advantage at a place where hes played well the past two years (T-7, T-5).
Dark Horse:
Nick Watney
Hes played so well that maybe he shouldnt be considered a darkhorse. But he did tie for 11th last year and has been a stud during the first quarter of the season this year.
Mercer BaggsWinner:
Tiger Woods
Id love to go against the grain and take someone else. But cant go against Tiger this week.$2,927,785
Contender:
Ian Poulter
Hell probably play well early and then sneak in a top-10 finish.

Dark Horse:
Andres Romero
This guy always seems to show up near the top of a leaderboard in a major.
Erik PetersonWinner:
Tiger Woods
Tiger is putting with confidence heading into Augusta. Scary.$2,415,517
Contender:
Phil Mickelson
Hes had an up-and-down season so far, but has rallied when it counts.

Dark Horse:
Danny Lee
With the teen phenom hype deflected by Ishikawa, cool-as-ice Lee will hearken back to Bobby Jones.
Brian KoresselWinner:
Geoff Ogilvy
In his return, Greg Norman garners the spotlight on the eve of the Masters and then fellow Aussie Ogilvy steals the spotlight from Tiger and Phil come Sunday evening.$3,037,258
Contender:
Lee Westwood
Flying in under the radar somewhat, look for the Englishman to be high on the leaderboard at the end of the tournament.
Dark Horse:
Nick Watney
A darkhorse probably only in the eyes of the general golfing public, Watney has quietly put together a very solid start to 2009.
Dena DavisWinner:
Tiger Woods
Pick a reason, any reason to take the man. This is like a choose-your-own-adventure book and any script ends with Woods winning his fifth green jacket.$2,330,559
Contender:
Zach Johnson
The surprise '07 Masters winner will contend again, and it shouldn't be a surprise this time. He's a great putter and he goes into Augusta with a win and five top-20s under his belt this season.
Dark Horse:
Stewart Cink
Stewie's a darkhorse simply due to his quiet '09 season. But you have to love that the Georgia local hasn't finished out of the top-20 in the last five Masters, including a T3 last year.
Jerry FoltzWinner:
Geoff Ogilvy
My pick to win for the second week in a row ' and despite the stumble on Sunday in Houston ' I still think he's the only one other than Tiger that makes sense.$1,771,979
Contender:
Kenny Perry
Why not? He hits a draw, has a tendency to get hot with the putter, and it's even a major he's going to play.
Dark Horse:
Tim Clark
I guess Phil and Tiger would be rejected as long-shots by my editorial review board at Golfchannel.com, so I'll go with Tim Clark. Regardless of the stats that my friend Rex Hoggard offers, I still think he's a long-shot.

 

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