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Opinion & Analysis

Masters predictions: Tiger, Phil, Rory or Luke?

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By Brant Brice

GolfWRX Contributor

The winner of the 2012 Masters is … not Tiger, Phil, Rory or Luke. While you may believe one of these men will roll to victory, there is s new class of PGA Tour professionals poised to prove you wrong.

So what does it take to win the Masters?

The first obvious challenge at Augusta National is length. At over 7400 yards, the course is much more difficult for a shorter hitter like Luke Donald who averages just over 270 yards off the tee and is 70th on Tour in driving accuracy.

Unfortunalely, Luke Donald can’t win here.

Next, the course demands you hit the fairways. The rough is cut very short, which makes errant shots worse as off line shots tend to scoot further into trouble. When you do hit a fairway at Augusta, there aren’t many even lies to be found on the course. So even from the right places, it’s hard to hit greens at the Masters.

Mickelson can surely hit it long enough he just isn’t hitting it straight; in 2012, he is 158th on tour in fairways hit. And even though Mr. Unpredictable has won this year, this course won’t let him get away with the wild tee shot misses.

Scratch Phil Mickelson.

The third necessity needed to tame the field at the Masters is a swing that repeats under pressure. A pro has to have incredible confidence for all four rounds and trust his swing under the most intense pressure cooker of any tournament in golf.

Exit Tiger Woods.

Although he will be the crowd favorite and seems to be returning to classic Tiger form, his TW 3.0 swing is still under construction. While the framework of the new swing is appears to be ingrained, he still has trouble trusting his distances and still fears the occasional double cross. At Augusta, precision is an absolute if he expects to finish with the lowest total score on Sunday. He’s not there yet.

Enter Rory Mcilroy, last year’s sweetheart who had an epic choke in the final round of the 2011 Masters. The young Irishman can crush the ball, and is averaging just a shade shy of 300 yards off the tee with the preferred high draw. But he only hits the fairway and greens 60 percent of the time.  This was a huge reason for the debacle last year. See Phil above.

Statistically, he is a little better than average putter, but has been underwhelming from 100 yards and in, and struggles with making lots of birdies, ranked 181st. Although he is 1st in scrambling, pars won’t win at Augusta. Rory will eventually wear the green jacket but not this year.  Of the four his game is the closest.

No glory for Rory this year.

So who will win in 2012? Look out for these big hitters, straight shooters and steady putters: Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer, Nick Watney, Gary Woodland and Kyle Stanley. These boys are young and hungry, they can hit the ball a mile, and they’re all prior tour winners and with the ability and confidence to win any given week.

So, Will Tiger be back? Is Phil on the back side of his career? Will Rory win a Masters?  Can Luke ever beat Augusta?

Tiger 3.0 is close, Phil still has plenty of gas in the tank, Rory will win more than one Masters, but I don’t think Luke can ever beat Augusta unless the field beats itself. It’s not a course that fits his strengths.

The Masters is the grandest stage of all in professional golf. It’s not the most difficult tournament setup where 34 times the final posted score was 9-under or greater, compared to the U.S. Open where only twice in its history has there been final score posted lower than 8-under (Tiger in 2000 at -12 and Rory in 2011 at -16 2000).

What makes the Masters so difficult to win is that it encompasses something far more challenging than length from tee to green or undulating fairways and lightening fast greens. It’s the chance of immortality. It’s the unmistakable noise of the galleries as well as the deafening sound of silence only heard at the Masters. It’s the history of champions past and the timeliness of the course itself. It’s the overwhelming pressure to attain the green jacket, the greatest prize in all of golf. It’s a tradition unlike any other and is the greatest sports event in the world!

Who do you think will win?

Click here for discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

Click here to read more from Brant on his blog: Golfensive thoughts and other shallow observations.  You can also follow Brice on Twitter @BrantBrice

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Kevin

    Apr 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    tiger, tiger, tiger. phil, nope. rory, maybe. luke donald, nope. either tiger or rory but probs tiger.

  2. Rick

    Apr 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Woodland is in the midst of swing changes with Harmon and has consistently under performed this year. No reason to think he finds it this week. Kaymer has never made a cut at the Masters, and has in the past made noises about having to modify his game to fit the course (i.e. hit more draws). I think you can safely scratch those too off the list.

    If Mahan’s new and improved short game is for real, he might be a non-obvious pick other than your first four mentioned to carry his momentum in and win. In any case, here’s hoping for a Sunday like last year.

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Opinion & Analysis

More Distance Off the Tee (Part 1 of 3): Upper Body Training

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If you read my previous story, Tour Pro’s Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up, you are well aware of the fact that improving your upper body power is one of three sure ways to increase your distance off the tee. If you have not, I strongly suggest you check it out to gain some context about what is to follow and what is critical for your golf game.

Through our testing and the testing done of many of the industry leaders in golf performance, we have found that the ability of golfers to generate “push power” from their upper body is critical to maximize efficiency and speed in the swing. The way that you can test your power is simple. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your back on the chair, chest pass with both hands a 6-pound medicine ball as far as you can. When you compare this to your vertical jump as described in More Distance Off the Tee (Part 2 of 3): Lower Body Training Plan, the number in feet you threw the ball should be relatively close to your jump in inches.

If you threw the ball and it went 5 feet, you have an upper body power problem. If you threw the ball 25 feet and jumped only 14 inches, your upper body is not the problem — you probably need to focus on your lower body. It’s not rocket science once you understand what you are looking for. What can be challenging is knowing how to improve your power once you identify a problem. That is where the rest of this article comes in. What I am going to outline below are three of the most common upper body power exercises that we use with our amateur, senior and professional golfers.

The key with any power training exercise is to make sure you are as rested as possible between sets so that you can be as explosive as possible for the repetitions. Try not to do more than 6 repetitions in a set to assure that each one is as fast and explosive as possible.

Med Ball Chest Pass on Wall

This is one of the most basic exercises there is for developing upper body push power. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart and don’t be afraid to use your legs to help maximize the punishment you deliver to against the wall!

Med Ball Wall Ball

Watching the video, you may be scratching you head and wondering why this is in the upper body power article when clearly the athlete is using his legs. The reason is that in the golf swing, power starts with the legs.

Med Ball Sky Chest Throws

This one is simple. Laying on your back, all you need to do is push the ball up as high as you can, catch it on the way down and the explode it back up into the air as high as you can. If you incorporate this exercise into your routine even once a week, you will see huge gains in your ability to swing faster if this was a problem area for you.

That being said, power creation requires not only speed but also strength development. It is also important that you have a solid strength program to increase your ability to generate more force. While this is beyond the scope of this article, finding yourself a solid golf fitness expert will help you create your ideal program.

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Podcasts

GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience

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Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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