Who will conquer Augusta National?


In little over twelve hours time the 2015 Masters Tournament will be underway, and it begs the question as to who will be pulling on the green jacket on Sunday evening.

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Rory McIlroy is the favourite this week. After winning the Open Championship last July the world number one is just one Masters victory away from a career Grand Slam and would become only the 6th golfer to ever do so. Augusta National has not been a happy hunting ground for McIlroy over the years though. A back-nine meltdown in 2011 stopped him from winning his first Major Championship of his career and McIlroy has not finished higher than 8th in his six appearances since 2009.

The limelight has been taken away from McIlroy though over the past week, since Tiger Woods announced he would be competing for the first time since his withdrawal from the Farmers Insurance Open in February. Woods has only played 47 holes this season and his game has been questioned a lot since his return from injury. His short game troubles came down to ‘different release patterns’ but Woods told the worldwide media yesterday at his press conference that he has worked from sun up to sun down to get his game to a level where he can win golf tournaments again. The world number 111 has won the green jacket four times and can anyone really have the audacity to say he cannot win for a fifth time? If Woods wins this week it surely has to go down as one of his best ever Major Championship triumphs.

There are a number of players coming into this week with a chance to win. Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker to name a select few. But it will come down to who can hold their nerve in and around the greens. Augusta National is regarded as a second-shot course which is why it is essential that your iron play is tuned to perfection by the time to reach the 1st tee on Thursday.

From a personal perspective I think that there is about fourty players who come into this week with the game to win, it really is that open. I think after his performance last year, and his early form this season, Jordan Spieth is in with a great chance to win his first Major Championship. Here are a few select tee-times for tomorrows opening round:

Group 8, 9:02 am (14:02 GMT)

Reed, Bradley, Poulter

Group 10, 9:24 am (14:24 GMT)

B. Watson, Rose, Yang

Group 16, 10:41 am (15:41 GMT)

Mickelson, McIlroy, Moore

Group 29, 1:15 pm (18:15 GMT)

Spieth, Horschel, Stenson

Group 32, 1:48 pm (18:48 GMT)

Woods, Donaldson, Walker

 

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Hoffman leads at Bay Hill


 

American Morgan Hoffman has a 3-shot lead heading into the weekend at the Arnold Palmer invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

Hoffman followed up his first round 66 with an impressive second round 65 which included nine birdies and two bogeys. The player ranked at number 137 in the official world rankings will tee off tomorrow afternoon alongside last years winner Matt Every. Every shot a 6-under round of 66 which included a string of five straight birdies from the 4th hole. He is 10-under-par and three strokes behind Hoffman.

Also on 10-under-par is Henrik Stenson, that’s after the Swede shot yet another round in the 60’s. After a hit and miss front nine of level-par 36, Stenson made six birdies on the back nine, including a run of four from the 15th to the clubhouse.

Elsewhere on the course World Number One Rory McIlroy carded a round of 66 to move to 8-under-par and just five strokes behind the leader. It was a much more promising round for the Northern Irishman after a pretty uneventful first round 70 on Thursday. McIlroy made five straight birdies from the 2nd hole and just made one boogey all round. He tees off tomorrow with the Swede David Lingmerthe, also on 8-under-par.

Further down the field is Ian Poulter on 7-under-par, as is the talented Brooks Koepka. Graeme McDowell, Paul Casey and J.B Holmes all missed the ut and will be heading home after a disappointing week.

On the European Tour at the rain drenched Madeira Island Open, half of the field are still to complete their first rounds after sever rain delays. As it stands the clubhouse leader is the the Dane Joachim Hansen on 4-under-par. The tournament has been reduced to 54 holes with weather still likely to play a big part in the next couple of days. British hopefuls Chris Hanson (2-under through 6) and Simon Wakefield (2-under through 14) have made good starts to their first rounds and will be out early in the morning to finish them off. Another Brit, Andrew Marshall is in the clubhouse tied for 2nd on 3-under-par after an opening round 69.