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7 storylines to follow during the 2015 Masters

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Several big names are receiving grand attention going into the event, and no players are being more scrutinized than the two standard bearers of the sport.

But we already know those story lines, and we want this Masters week to be fun and fresh. What are some alternate plot points to ponder?

Below are the seven other story lines I am keeping track of this week.

Will Tiger keep smiling and hugging everyone?

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So Woods’ game isn’t only looking good this week, according to reports, but he’s joking around, hugging people and receiving friendly nip grabs?

As Golf.com’s Alan Bastable astutely asked: Who is this guy? And what did he do with Tiger Woods? Apparently, a period away from the game and more time with the children has Woods more jovial and in a looser mood than anyone has seen from him in a long time. He’s even playing in the Par-3 Contest!!!

It’ll be intriguing to see if Tiger’s good mood is a short term facade or will continue as we get into the tournament and beyond. Yes, he’s happy now, but will this “new Tiger” still be present if he flubs a few chips or hits a few loose shots? We’ll be watching closely.

What will happen if Bubba does get in a fight in a parking lot?

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We finally have a source of Bubba controversy not caused by the lefty bomber himself, and that would be the ESPN player survey which revealed that among his peers, Watson doesn’t appear very well liked (granted, not a huge surprise).

More specifically, when the polled golfers were asked which competitor they would not help in a fight in a parking lot, Bubba Watson was the No. 1 answer.

I’m curious, though. If Bubba did get in a fight on the Masters grounds this week, would his peers be as reticent to help as they say? Which players would be most likely to step in and aid Bubba and who would be especially predisposed to bystand?

In all seriousness, though, I’m still wondering if we’ll hear anything more throughout the week on this topic of players not liking Bubba. Something to note, especially if Watson gets into contention or wins a third Green Jacket.

How much better will Adam Scott putt with a long putter?

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Much has been written about Scott’s success with an anchored stroke, and after one solid week and two difficult ones with the short flatstick, the Aussie has switched back to the long broom for the Masters.

Scott is certainly not the only anchorer struggling to adjust to the short putter ahead of the Jan. 1, 2016 anchoring ban. Whatever Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson say, in 2015 they’ve suddenly turned from quality putters to below average ones in switching away from the long putter.

The Aussie’s performance on the Augusta greens will certainly be something to look into, with the backlash using the anchored stroke can still produce. But, more importantly, if Scott’s long broom flatstick performs well this week, he could be tempted to revert to it the rest of the year. And Scott’s success there might lead other former anchors to start exploring that possibility as well.

Do we see Good Sergio or Bad Sergio this week?

Sergio

Even for Sergio, the Spaniard has a peculiar history at this tournament.

He publicly bashed the course in 2009, stated that he wasn’t good enough to win a major after his Masters performance in 2012 and relayed some pretty pessimistic thoughts on his prospects after sharing the Masters first round lead the very next year.

All of that is Bad Sergio and he has seemed to surface a lot at Augusta in the past. But in recent times, he has been happier in his life and he stated last week that he had come to peace with the chase for his first major.

So maybe we will finally see Good Sergio — the relaxed, happy Spaniard near the top of the leaderboard — this week? Whatever the case, Good Sergio and Bad Sergio are both entertaining and add color to the event. And guessing which one will come out is always a big part of the fun.

El Nino’s game isn’t perfect for Augusta, as he doesn’t hit it particularly high, and as Rich Hunt noted, his mid- to long-iron play has been really off this year. But, as I said, Good Sergio/Bad Sergio is unpredictable and will be humorous to follow.

Can Fred Couples finally cure his weekend woes at Augusta?

Fred-Couples

Before anyone calls me a Freddie hater, what he has done at the Masters recently is absolutely remarkable. In his past five appearances at the tournament, all in his 50s, he has yet to place outside the top-20 and seems to be at the top of the leaderboard at some point every year. It’s been extremely compelling.

That being said, Couples, despite his early high place on these Masters leaderboards over the last five years, was not a factor on the back nine on Sunday in any of those attempts. Wouldn’t it be so much better if Freddie could be in the mix over the tournament’s final holes?

Couples backslide down the leaderboard in this stretch has almost always originated on the weekend, with his zero subpar rounds and three scores of 75 or worse on Saturday and Sunday since 2011. The 55-year-old still needs to perform well in the early days, but I’m never going to doubt him there. If he can keep it up on the weekend, though, we might be in for something special.

Which players are most desperate for a Masters win?

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It’s always intriguing to see players who are frantically searching for a high place at the majors, and we have a few main candidates this week. The names that stick out are Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Phil Mickelson.

Westwood is still trying to find that first major and he has finished 7th or better at Augusta four of the last five years. The course fits him, and with time running low to get the monkey off his back, he’ll be striving hard for the Green Jacket. Donald’s record at the Masters is not quite as robust but he shares the pain of not winning a major, and he faces the same battle against father time.

Mickelson may have five major championship wins but his game has sunk in recent years and he needs to be dialed in on his limited opportunities to accrue more majors and become an even bigger name in golf history before his play really deteriorates.

Will Rickie Fowler’s major success continue?

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If you haven’t heard, Rickie Fowler did pretty well in the majors last year. It started at Augusta with a T5, and continued with subsequent T2, T2 and T3 showings.

However creepy adults in Fowler grab look, the 26-year-old American is a breath of fresh air for the game, and someone I’ve already argued makes no sense to antagonize.

Fowler’s form has been pretty average this year, but his long-hitting, high-ball game works well for Augusta. As I noted, all around players profile well here, and Rickie fits well there. His putting is streaky, but he can be streaky good there.

If Fowler could continue his fruitful ways in the majors, especially with a victory, his profile will continue to rise and he could start really challenging for the crown as brightest young star in the game.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Vadim

    Apr 8, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Speith?!

  2. SJ

    Apr 8, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Rory?

    • Kevin Casey

      Apr 9, 2015 at 12:11 am

      As I said in the intro, these are kind of alternate story lines from the obvious ones. Rory going for the Career Grand Slam, Tiger’s chances at victory, Bubba’s quest for a third Green Jacket in four years and Spieth’s quest for a first all fall under the obvious storylines. Of course, those are all storylines I am watching for as well, but there’s no real reason to write about them because they have been expounded on elsewhere already so many times.

  3. other paul

    Apr 8, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Fingers crossed for fowler. Go Orange! My 3 year old loves orange because of him.

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