By Ethan Smith, Sports Editor
As most Georgians know, the first week of April is always special for Augusta, GA. The annual Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club is here once again, and thousands of fans from around the world will crowd into Augusta for the week-long event that never fails to excite and amaze many. Here is a preview of the 2018 Masters Tournament.
Tiger Woods. To be very simple, he seems to be getting back to his old form. Woods has four top 25 finishes in his last 5 events over the last three months, with his best finish being second place in the Valspar Championship. When Tiger is on his game, the sport of golf immediately gets better. His game is so smooth when he is on it, and due to his recent success, he is the betting favorite to win the tournament in Las Vegas, so Tiger Woods has the chip on his shoulder once again.
Reigning champion Sergio Garcia finally got his hands on a green jacket last year as he looks to possibly do so again this year, even though it is highly unlikely. Only three players have ever won back-to-back years, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods, who happen to be some of the best golfers ever. Many players have won the tournament multiple times, but it is rare that a player wins back-to-back.
Of course, the mix of young phenoms is still present. Bubba Watson is young but is a seasoned veteran who has a win under his belt. Jordan Spieth won in 2015 and has come close to winning multiple times, so he will be looking to obtain another green jacket. Rory Mcllory has yet to wear a green jacket in his amazing young career. Numerous young golfers have won the tournament, and for many, The Masters has been a springboard to an amazing career.
Speaking of springboards, I believe this could be yet again a year where a young, basically unknown golfer to casual fans pops out of nowhere and wins the tournament. A name to watch out for is Daniel Berger, who is making his third appearance at Augusta National Golf Club this year. He finished top 30 in his first two appearances and has a knack for showing up at big tournaments. He is currently ranked 59th in the FedEx Cup Rankings, but with experience on the course, I believe the 2015 Rookie of the Year can make noise in this year’s tournament.
As for the weather, which always seems to be a factor during the tournament, Thursday and Friday are slated to be beautiful days while Saturday has rain in the forecast. Sunday returns to beautiful form in the forecast to end the tournament. The greens and fairways will also be points of interest, so we will see how those fair for the players as well.
My prediction for the 2018 Masters Tournament will likely surprise most. I believe Justin Rose, the English golfer who lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff last year will come back fighting for the green jacket but will once again fall short. Jordan Spieth is coming off of his best finish of the season at the Houston Open, and I believe he will ride the momentum to yet another Masters victory.
My predicted top ten is as follows: Jordan Spieth(W), Justin Rose, VJ Singh, Tiger Woods, Daniel Berger, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Justin Thomas.