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The Masters eclipses all else in golf
Updated 2 months ago

It’s The Masters, and clearly the entire universe is excited.

A total solar eclipse was the first major talking point at the first Major of the year. For a change at Augusta National Golf Club, everybody was not looking at a tee box or a green. They were looking up.

The good people of Augusta National even handed out Masters-branded eyewear so their patrons could watch the eclipse, and which have immediately become a hotly traded item on eBay. For about R2 000 plus shipping you can buy yourself a pair of these cheap cosmic glasses.

But while Monday at The Masters may have revealed the secrets of the universe, the secret of who is going to triumph on these hallowed fairways this week is far harder to unlock.

So if you’re looking for Masters secrets, rather go and buy your Masters glasses.

Instead, we’ve got this that’s caught our eye.

Tiger Woods:

Can he win The Masters? He’s already won the mental battle. Mentally he’s better than anybody there this week. Physically, he’s as fragile as an azalea. Stronger than in the past, but still limited by that left ankle. Yet if the stars align as they did above Augusta National earlier in the week, then who knows. Perhaps the more compelling storyline is his quest for a record 24th consecutive cut to beat the current record he shares with Gary Player and Fred Couples.

The First Timers:

Is this perhaps the best bunch of Masters rookies we’ve ever seen? Look at this list – Ludvig Åberg, Akshay Bhatia, Wyndham Clark, Eric Cole, Nick Dunlap, Nicolai Højgaard, Christo Lamprecht, Grayson Murray, Matthieu Pavon. That’s a pretty strong group of Masters debutants. No first timer has won The Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, but there’s no doubt the kids these days have got the goods to break that streak.

Phil Mickelson:

Riyadh’s favourite tourism agent. Nobody over the age of 50 has ever won The Masters. Wouldn’t it be just like the 53-year-old Mickelson to change that this week. Especially with that runner-up finish last year.

SA charge:

Erik van Rooyen, Charl Schwartzel and amateur Christo Lamprecht lead the local challenge. Lamprecht made himself a promise to never watch The Masters live until he was playing it. That happens for the first time in his career this week.

Show me the Numbers:

What does it take to win The Masters?

Well, 8 of the last 9 champions were first-time Masters winners. But 9 of the last 14 Masters winners had either a previous win there or a top-10 finish.

And if you haven’t got control of your irons, the closest you’ll get to a green jacket is being shown out the front gate by one of the members after missing the cut. Consider this, 11 of the last 12 Masters winners ranked inside the top 7 of Greens in Regulation.

Enough. Pick a winner already:

Xander Schauffele. Coming in hot and with three top-10s in three of his last five Masters appearances. But Brooks Koepka also has three top-10s in his last five Masters. And Jon Rahm has to be a good bet to defend, even if he hasn’t been playing 72-hole golf too much lately. And Rory McIlroy? I mean c’mon, now must surely be his time for that Grand Slam? Actually, scrap all of the above and go with Scottie Scheffler. His putter should be tested for performance-enhancing substances. And then there’s Jordan Spieth. If you’ve got the stomach for that roller-coaster, then buy that ticket now because he could well deliver this week.

Good luck.

And remember, those solar eclipse glasses won’t buy themselves.

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