World Golf Hall of Fame Member Annika Sorenstam is a 10-time Major Champion and has experience playing non-competitive rounds at Augusta National Golf Club.
When she played Augusta National the week before it closed for the summer one year, the course was absolutely pristine and she has played the course before and after the significant changes of 2002. The weather plays a huge role in how you play any course. When she first played Augusta National the wind was a big factor. The course is already playing long at 7,435 yards and the weather will have an impact this week on who can and cannot contend this week.
It will make a big difference if the Augusta National decides to use lift, clean, and place and it would be a big decision as historically no one can recall the Augusta National ever using lift, clean, and place during The Masters.
I.K. Kim missed a one foot putt to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship and went on to lose the playoff. She is a great player and a nice person with a great heart so it was very hard to see her go through that in the final round. She did exactly what she was supposed to do in that situation up until that putt. It will be very difficult for I.K. Kim to recover from this and Annika really did not have any idea how or why that happened.
Yani Tseng was in contention in the Kraft Nabisco Championship until the very end and she could have made the playoff with a birdie on 18. However, the wind was up that day and she had to settle for a par on a par 5 hole that gives up a lot of birdies under calm conditions but not under windy conditions which Yani had to deal with in the final round.
She does not remember her very first Masters memory because she has so many great ones but the earliest one that stands out to her was 1997 when Tiger Woods won by 12 strokes as a 21-year-old to change the record books.
When she thinks of day one of the 2012 Masters, she said that she cannot think of another year when so many interesting and different storylines were all being discussed at the same time. We want to see the best players in the world compete and she thinks that a number of them will be in the mix on Sunday. Also, she wishes that she were in Augusta today to see Nicklaus, Palmer, and Player start The Masters as Honorary Starters.
It seems like everyone is peaking at the same time this week and there is also a great balance of quality and quantity this week. She certainly thinks that Tiger Woods is one of the favorites and when you look at how he played in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, there is no way that you cannot look at Tiger as someone who will be in contention this week.
If Tiger and Phil were paired together this week, she would give the advantage to Phil as we have seen how well Phil has performed when he has been in the same group as Tiger. But if they were not paired together, she would give the advantage to Tiger if she had to choose between the two.
When it comes to dark horse candidates for contenders, she mentioned Sweden’s Peter Hanson. He is a very solid player and he has won and played well in big events. She would not be surprised to see Hanson in the mix this weekend.
It is amazing how little World #1 Luke Donald has been mentioned among Masters contenders for this week. While he has played well recently and won his last start in the Transitions Championship, the weather conditions will significantly hurt Donald’s chances to win because he is not a long hitter.