As long as he doesnt go out and shoot one of those pre-Masters Tournament 59s Ill feel safe in taking the field next week against the worlds No 1.
Now, before I continue, lets get one thing straight. Woods IS the worlds No. 1. Hes the most talented player, the best player, the smartest player and the most determined player.
Having said that, I just dont see how you can pick him to win when all signs point toward something not being right with his game and his frame (of mind). If he were to win come next Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club, the legend would add another amazing chapter and the storyline would carry straight to Shinecock Hills. It could very well happen (Im not dumb enough to suggest that the possibility doesnt exist.)
But as Ive thought about this, Ive conjured up thoughts about some dream scenarios that would make Sunday special without Woods throwing on another green jacket.
Heres my list of potential great stories:
Daly Makes Most of Late Entry
Gee, where have we seen this before? How about Crooked Stick as the last-minute alternate. Daly said his goal was Augusta. He made it by the thinnest of margins. And now, leading by one shot on Sunday, the biggest man in the field launches a monster drive on 18 that leaves him a flip sand wedge and a putt for the largest green jacket handed out since Billy Casper.
Bjorn Bunker Blast Seals Masters
Cmon, this guy deserves a break after what went down at Royal St. George. The goofiest of courses in the rotation provided us with a goofy finish. And poor Thomas hasnt done much since. This guy has a world of talent. I say, let him hole one from the bunker on Sunday that makes the difference in a victory for the Great Dane.
Not Going For It Gets it for Mickelson
Heres a crazy finish for you. Mickelson begins the second 9 on Sunday with a one-shot lead. He actually chooses to lay up at 13, trusting all the work he did in the off-season with Rick Smith and Dave Pelz. The result is a stiff wedge and birdie. Same story at 15. Then at 18, with a two-shot cushion, he hits 4-iron off the tee and plays for bogey at the worst. He makes par and tells the media hes not talking and were not invited to his party. (I wouldnt blame him.)
Another Auss(ie)-ome Finish
Two weeks after Adam Scott kept us on the edge of our nerves, this time its a Sunday battle between Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby and Craig Parry. Parrys made five of six cuts at Augusta and in the most ironic of finishes, hits driver at 18 to 176 yards. Upon arriving at his ball, he and his caddy look at each other, smile and both grab for the 6-iron. Parry stiffs it, makes birdie, wins the Masters and upon Hootie Johnson fitting him with Ian Woosnams old coat, Parry cries out, Too bad NBCs not televising this thing! I want a shot at Johnny Miller.
Mattiace Snowplows Way to a Green Jacket
Last year Mattiace broke down into tears after a dramatic playoff loss to Mike Weir. You can understand. Mattiace had a three-stroke lead on Weir as Mike reached the 13th fairway. Now, Mattiace returns after an off-season ski trip that resulted in even more injury. Barely two legs to stand on, Mattiace stands at 18 with a two-shot lead and keeps in it check. Talk about an emotional Sunday!
There are endless potentially great endings you could write:
All this conjecture is meant in the spirit of fun. The Masters is the best, if for no other reason than weve had some eight months to dream up the scenarios. Who are my favorites? Its one of these six: Davis Love III, David Toms, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington or Vijay Singh.
Ill let you know the choice come Wednesday night on the two-hour Sprint Pre-Game. Dont miss it!
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann