It’s time! The first part of the PGA Tour season seems to all ramp up towards the first Major of the season which happens this week at Augusta National, the single most well-known golf course in the world. The field is phenomenal as usual, but there is one glaring absence due to the injury of Tiger Woods. Without the spotlight of Tiger-mania, though, I still expect a great week of golf with plenty of drama coming this Sunday as players look to add a Major Championship to their resume.
Last week, the Spring segment of the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game got underway at the Shell Houston Open with a huge comeback from Matt Jones to defeat Matt Kuchar in a playoff and earn his ticket to Augusta. In our 50-entry group (which you can find details to join here), there was a tie atop the week’s standings with the Onalaska Cowboys and 18 Holes Bar each breaking 200 with solid weeks. In the overall standings for the season, “Put It In The Hole” leads the overall by a narrow, five-point margin over Reagan Rules 1.
If you’re looking for an extra way to play fantasy golf, for the Majors ESPN brings back their Best Ball Challenge which we also have a Fansided group for. Just search Fansided in the group directory or click here to join. I’ll put my picks each day in the bottom of this post and on twitter and update them as the week goes on, so check back each day for my updated picks for the Best Ball game. Here’s my picks for the week:
Phil Mickelson: Phil has won The Masters three times and showed he is healthy by finishing t12 last week at the Shell Houston Open. He’s the biggest star in the field without Tiger playing, but on this course he can’t be ignored given his track record at Augusta.
Bubba Watson: Watson was playing great before allergies caused him to crash out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He should be able to bounce back at this tournament where he has a great history including his 2012 win with his famous shot out of the pine straw.
Rory McIlroy: McIlroy finished t7 last week after a sizzling 65 on Sunday to get his momentum going. He has always played well at Augusta but hasn’t been able to put four consecutive rounds together and still may be haunted by his 2011 implosion. I think he’ll be the one to get the win this week, and would be my pick if forced to take a single golfer.
Jason Day: Day has been in contention at Majors recently but hasn’t been able to close the deal. He’s been sidelined recently with a thumb injury, but he reportedly is fully recovered and ready for Augusta. He won the Match Play Championship earlier this season as my pick and has been in the top three in two of the last three Masters tournaments.
Dustin Johnson: Johnson is a roll of the dice coming off a 80 and a WD last week at the Shell Houston open, but I’ll take him in one of my bench spots and see how he starts the tournament. If he can overcome his balky back, he has been excellent finishing in the top six in all five of his stroke play events this season prior to last week. Last year, he finished t13 at Augusta.
Hunter Mahan: Mahan’s injury that forced him out of the final round at Bay Hill looks to be behind him after a solid t31 last week in Houston. Mahan is a regular on the Masters leaderboard finishing in the top 12 three times in his last five trips to Augusta.
Sergio Garcia: Can Sergio finally get a Major? Last week, Garcia looked like he may be ready to get his elusive win at Augusta as he stormed into contention with a second-round 65 before fading to a solo third-place finish. It was his 13th straight top-20 and he is coming off top-15 finishes in the last two years at the Masters. Garcia would be in the “best without a Major” discussion, but he can end that a win this week at Augusta.
Charl Schwartzel: The South African had been in the top 20 in four of his five stateside competitions and 11 of his last 15 worldwide. Schwartzel has an outstanding record at Augusta National including a green jacket he won in 2011.
Best Ball Picks
Round 1: Jason Day, Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas, Jonas Blixt