April 09, 2014

And, the winner of the 2014 Masters is?

Semi-regular and regular readers here know that I'm somewhat of a golf fan. I definitely follow the four majors, keep 3/4 of an eye on the FedEx and Ryder cups, and have been for decades.

The first major I remember was the 1975 Masters, where Jack Nicklaus held off Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf (possibly the best 1-major winner ever) by a stroke. Dan Jenkins (who else) had a great piece for Sports Illustrated. It's so good there's even a book about it.

We do know one thing — Tiger Woods won't be winning this one.

And, not only does his back injury and surgery lengthen the odds of him catching Nicklaus' 18 majors, his shot at another Jack record is also in trouble.

Nicklaus finished in the top 10 in at least one major a year for 22 straight. Tiger's been doing it himself since 1997, but obviously, in a worse-case scenario, he's out of both Opens and has only the PGA to try.

So, who will win it?

I think Phil Mickelson is still iffy, due to his own back concerns. Scratch him.

Almost nobody repeats at Augusta; besides Tiger and Jack, Nick Faldo's the only one to do it, so scratch Adam Scott.

I'm looking for somebody with experience, too, so scratch the young guns.

I'm looking for a European to do it this year.

Maybe a Spaniard.

No, not you, Miguel Angel Jimenez.

As much for drama as for possibility ...

Step on down, Sergio Garcia!

Seriously, he's vastly stepped up his putter work the last 18 months. That's key to Augusta.

Second, his head seems to be in at least a halfway good place.

And, third, beyond those realities, it would make a great story. It's a good story for him, and he would be the first Spaniard to win a major since the death of Seve Ballesteros.

If you give me two other options, both for story lines as well as realities, I'll take Henrik Stenson and Ernie Els.

Stenson winning puts Swedish men's golf on the map, and puts Swedish golf in general back on the map, where it's been missing since the retirement of Annika Sörenstam.

Els? Gets his fifth major, his coveted green jacket, and his third leg of the career Grand Slam, all to keep pace with Phil after the Mick won the Open last year.

I'm ruling out Jason Day for reasons similar to Mickelson. I don't think that thumb is 100 percent yet.

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