The first major of the 2018 golf season gets underway on Thursday with the 81st Masters from Augusta, Georgia. The television production of the Masters is fascinating. The pristine pictures along with the classical music is one of the most relaxing events in all of sports.
Heading into the competition, Dustin Johnson of Columbia, South Carolina appears on paper to be the dominant favourite. So far this season, he has won thrice (including two World Golf Championship events) and has moved to number one in the world in the World Golf Rankings.
However last year Jordan Spieth of Dallas, Texas seemed to be the favourite at the Masters, but struggled mightily in the final round and ended up losing to the unknown Englishman Danny Willett by three strokes.
The bottom line is that it is very difficult to win a golf tournament. The best golfer in the last 20 years is clearly Tiger Woods because he constantly won events that he was expected to win. The ability to win tournaments when you are number one is clearly admirable.
There are two major reasons why I do not believe Johnson will win this week. The first reason is because I do not think Augusta suits his game the best. At the Masters, competitors need to be very creative in attempting to attack the course. That includes a lot of imagination in their approach shots, especially around Amen Corner. Where Johnson is most affective is off the tee. He drives the golf ball with excellence and precision. That skill will help him in his attempt to win his first Masters, but he needs a combination of power and creativity to win at Augusta.
The second reason I would be a little hesitant in picking Johnson this week is that he has a history of struggling in major tournaments. At the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach, Johnson had a three stroke lead after the third round over Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland. However Johnson shot an 82 in the final round and finished tied for eighth. Johnson also faltered down the stretch at the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2015 British Open before winning his first major title last year at Oakmont.
For those entering golf pools this week, don’t be afraid to take the field over Johnson. The challengers I like are reigning FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, American Kevin Kisner, Canadian Adam Hadwin and England’s Ross Fisher. They have only participated in a combined total of 16 events this year, but have not missed a cut. Consistency heading into a major event like the Masters is key.