Every April, the best golfers in the world arrive at the Augusta National Golf Club to play in the Masters Tournament. For most golfers in the Metropolitan area, the Masters signifies the beginning of the golf season. The weather is getting warmer, the grass is getting greener, and the magic of the Masters has everyone digging their clubs out of the garage.

Augusta National is often regarded as the Sistine Chapel of golf courses. The grass is so green and so well-manicured. The flowers are so bright and so colorful, its as if Dr. Alister MacKenzie was an artist, not an architect. It is a course that lends itself to drama. With difficult par-3s, lengthy par-4s, and risk/reward par-5s, the Masters is rarely decided without excitement down the stretch.

The 2012 Masters should be no different. There are many storylines in play this week at the Masters, but none bigger than Tiger Woods. Tiger’s win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago made him the odds on favorite to win a 5th Green Jacket. While he has struggled over the past two seasons to find comfort in his new swing, this season, Tiger has shown signs of his old form. The club that will define his week at the Masters will be the putter. If Tiger putts well, he will be in contention on Sunday.

 

Tiger is not the only storyline this week. Rory McIlroy played great at last year’s Masters, but choked away the tournament on the final nine holes. He was able to rebound and win the U.S. Open in record fashion last June, but he still seeks redemption this week. Rory returns to Augusta National with hopes of erasing the memories of the most embarrassing moment of his career.

 

Fan favorite Phil Mickelson will also be in contention this year. He is playing well and always seems to save his best for the Masters. His imagination around the greens is a priceless asset on the slippery slopes at Augusta National. Like Tiger, if Phil can make putts, he will be near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.

 

There are some other players who will make an impact this week at the Masters, here are some players to keep an eye on:

Justin Rose, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, and defending champion Charl Schwartzel.

These players are all playing well right now. It would not surprise me if any of these players were to don the green jacket on Sunday evening.

My Picks:

Dark Horse:

Jason Day– last year’s runner-up. A great young player who can make a lot of birdies. If he avoids the big mistakes, he will have a good chance this week.

In Contention:

Rory McIlroy– Rory McIlroy is to Tiger Woods what Kobe Bryant is to Michael Jordan. He has the talent to dominate the Tour and he has been on a hot streak of late. 

Luke Donald– Donald is the number 1 player in the world. He is not a long hitter, but he is a great putter. And a hot flatstick can earn you a Green Jacket. 

Keegan Bradley– Bradley has never played in the Masters, but he is the most recent Major champion and he works the ball from right to left, which is the preferred ball flight at Augusta National. 

And the Winner Is:

Tiger Woods– I really like where Tiger’s game is right now. He looked so confident at Bay Hill, I think that he can carry that confidence to Augusta and win the tournament. Tiger last won the Masters in 2005, but he hasn’t finished outside the top-6 in the six Masters Tournaments since. He is beyond due for another Green Jacket. This is his week.