TORONTO - Not everybody is conceding the green jacket to Tiger Woods before the traffic up Magnolia Lane begins.
Just to console the extremists in the T-Nation, who will perceive an insult to their man from that statement, Rory McIlroy isn’t a lock either.
Tiger or the rest of the field? It was an oft-asked question when Woods was undisputed king instead of surfing into Augusta after a breakthrough win at Bay Hill and one posed well-known names in Canadian golf.
It was an even split.
“This is easy — the rest of the field,” replied eight-time LPGA Tour winner and Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Sandra Post, who knows something about winning a major after taking the 1968 LPGA Championship.
Post is leaning towards world No. 1 Luke Donald.
“He quietly goes about his game, is calm, patient and while everyone will be looking at Tiger, Rory or Phil (Mickelson), Luke will play within himself and his personal goal to move to the next level of his career, a major championship win,” said Post.
Golf Canada executive director and CEO Scott Simmons also goes with the the field.
“Rory McIlroy is arguably the hottest golfer on the planet,” said Simmons. “Luke Donald is world No. 1 and a favourite to win every week he tees it up. Bubba Watson may be able to overpower Augusta, but will need a finely tuned short game.”
Despite the other winners on tour this year and the players above him in the world rankings, Woods’ win at Bay Hill resonated with oddsmakers, who installed him as the Masters favourite.
Former PGA Tour player Dick Zokol, also a Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member, agrees.
“Whether you like it or not, Tiger Woods has the greatest chance to win the Masters,” Zokols said.
“Based on his recent performance, his overall history and knowledge of Augusta National, his odds to win are so strong that it’s once again reasonable to put him up against the rest of the field,” he said.
Adam Hadwin, who almost became a giant slayer at last year’s RBC Canadian Open, is going with the favourite for the same reasons as Zokol.
“With as much golf as I have watched, I have learned to not bet against Tiger,” said Hadwin.
“His game has been much better for a while now, his putting held up for four rounds at Bay Hill. Yes, I know he knows that course like the back of his hand, but he also knows Augusta pretty well,” said Hadwin.
“He’s feeling good. He’s got his confidence back. As long as he stays uninjured, he is the horse I’m getting on,” he said.
It’s funny how some golf pundits who allegedly possess some level of objectivity are discussing their colleagues jumping on and off bandwagons, specifically the one rolling since Woods’ victory. Through the turmoil of the past two-and-a-half years, there were few, if any, columnists/commentators who claimed that Woods was finished, even if they did recognize his confidence issues after the scandal, injuries and the challenges of making swing changes. According to the T-Nation, to recognize these realities meant writing Woods off. Now that he’s back, and I’d like a definition of that term, is the T-Nation saying that McIlroy and Donald will never be victorious again now that Woods will win everything in their estimation? Be careful of those pom-poms. You don’t want to trip over them and fall off your bandwagon ... Even Tiger’s swing coach Sean Foley recognized the swing changes and injuries Woods faced. “We have the bluepri nt in place now and we are only at the halfway point. If you include the fact that he has been injured for six of the 16 months we have worked together, we are definitely ahead of schedule,” he said. “The statistics (at Bay Hill) were a detailed sign of the direction we have been headed for quite some time now. It was great to see him win and now his focus will turn to the Masters.”
PARR AND LOTS OF BIRDIES
London’s Andrew Parr tied for sixth at the European Tour’s Sicilian Open at 10-under, five shots off the winning score, yesterday. Parr just missed full-time status at the tour’s Q-school in mid-December ... There’s an LPGA Tour event coming up in just over two months in Kitchener. Has anyone heard anything about it? ... Interesting observation from Post about the LPGA Tour. With young players such as Yani Tseng excelling so early in their careers, Post wonders what effect more overseas travel will have on players as they age, with the tour holding more events in Asia, Europe and Australia. For example, all-time wins leader Kathy Whitworth (88) played the better part of three decades in compiling her record, mostly within the U.S. It will be interesting to see if young stars have the same longevity with all the globetrotting. The same holds true if the PGA Tour becomes more of a world tour ... Fred Couples, Larry Mize and John Cook will play the Montreal Championship. That Champions Tour event will be played in late June ... Ontario pro Ian Doig defeated Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., in an all-Canadian final in the professional division of the Bacardi National Par 3 Championship in Bermuda.