Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
The winner of the last five Masters, Schwartzel, Watson, Scott and Spieth, have also won tournaments on the PGA Tour this year. You have an opportunity to put down a few quid on a prop bet: Would you take those four against the field to win this year’s Masters?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine @jimdeeks): Yes I would. And I’d also take 5,000-to-1 on a buck for Freddie Couples.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I think it’s a good bet to take them against the field. They are all playing well and obviously have a good feel for the golf course. And since it’s an even numbered year, there’s a good chance Bubba is right in contention again, unfortunately. Here’s hoping we see a Canadian near the top of the leaderboard this year…oh, wait, never mind.
Jim Kenesky, Kenesky Murray Golf Services (@JimKeneskyGolf): Charl Schwartzel looked real good on Sunday. However, even though the mentioned men are playing well, I would put my money on the field. Too many great players in the field that could take the title.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: That’s not a bad prop bet. My old pal ‘Roxy’ Roxburgh in Vegas would be proud. But I wouldn’t make the play in any currency because of a couple of guys who I think will be neck and neck on Sunday — Rory and Day. Pretty sure that Georgia has been on their minds for the past few months and they’ll be ready. I think they’ll have to keep an eye on Scott and they can’t forget Phil and Rose who were T2 last year. If Phil is going to get another, this will be the year.
Frank Mastroianni, Freelance Writer: Nope. The odds for each individually will be/are so minuscule and combined against the field are probably so small it wouldn’t be worth betting at all. Besides, Hideki Matsuyama is winning this year’s Masters.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): The Masters always seems to favour those with plenty of experience and that foursome has more than most. However, I think there’s a burning desire in Rory McIlroy to complete the Grand Slam and show the world that he’s the No. 1 player. He’s my pick for The Masters so I’ll take the field against Schwartzel, Scott, Watson and Spieth.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Absolutely. Hell, I’d take Watson and Spieth against the rest of the field!
Graham DeLaet led the field in ball striking at the Valspar Championship but finished last in strokes gained putting. His final round 75 and fifth place finish was a disappointment to him and most Canadians. Is DeLaet just a bad putter and maybe nobody should expect any better or can he get over this and find the winner’s circle?
Quinn: I am the worst putter I’ve ever played with, but I haven’t played with DeLaet. Without question, he has to get Dave Stockton on speed dial and spend as much time as he can with him fixing that short stick. He’s disturbing to watch. Great that he’s proven that he carries on the Canuck tradition of being a great ball striker. Done and done. That ain’t enough, eh?
Mastroianni: A couple of years back when Graham DeLaet was really in form, I thought it was just a matter of time before he won. After his past few tournaments in contention, especially the Valspar, I really don’t see how he can ever get a win as much as it pains me to say. And it’s not just his putting; it’s his game around the green too. In contention Sunday, he flubbed a pretty simple bunker shot and hit a small chip as fat as you possibly can. His putting went from unwatchable to nauseating, and like Tigers shanks, I don’t see how a player can get over missing so many putts of such insignificant length time and time again. I hope I’m wrong. I’ll be pulling hard for Graham every single time, but I just don’t see how it works out in his favour for a long time.
Kaplan: He’s not a world-class putter, but he’s certainly not as bad as he looked last week! It was painful to watch that final round. But, in all fairness, few players were holing putts throughout the week. The camera was just fixed on DeLaet for four hours and we saw every shrill moment! He’ll bounce back from this and eventually get one!
Deeks: I’m beginning to think that DeLaet doesn’t have the stomach to win. I hope I’m wrong and that he’ll finally pull through. Same with Hearn. Maybe they’re just too darn Canadian.
Mumford: I’m not sure anyone gets to the PGA Tour by being a “bad” putter but DeLaet sure seems to lack confidence in his short game right now. And that includes both chipping and putting. Perhaps one of the mental gurus can turn him around but DeLaet won’t ever be in the same league as Spieth or any of the really great putters on Tour. I think he’s really part of that group of players like Charles Howell III who are great ball strikers but don’t have the short game to close the deal. Or maybe it’s the beard.
Rule: Well he almost got his ticket punched to Augusta, but putting let him down again. I remember when he had his best 2 years on tour his putting was around tour average (+0.10 and -0.10 strokes gained respectively in 2013 and 2014), which is fine for someone that strikes the ball as well as he does. He doesn’t have to lead the field in putting to win, kind of like how Boo Weekley has managed to win on tour! There are guys ranked below him in putting that have won this year (Vaughn Taylor), all he needs is a hot luke-warm putting week and he’ll win eventually.
Kenesky: He’ll get over it and find the winners circle multiple times. I’m thinking the Olympics would be a nice time to break through.
It’s been announced that Arnold Palmer will not do a press conference prior to this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The 86 year old is in poor health and will also not hit the ceremonial tee shot at Augusta next month but does plan to be on the first tee. Should Augusta look for a replacement for Palmer and if so, who should it be?
Deeks: I’d nominate Raymond Floyd to fill in for Arnold on a temporary basis, and hope the old boy makes it back next year.
Mumford: No replacements are needed as long as Arnie can be there. Once that changes, I’d love to see them bring in Tom Watson so he and Gary Player could go at it one more time. Nothing like a geezer brawl on the first tee. Raymond Floyd isn’t the answer. There’s not an ounce of sentimentality in him – he was a crusty S.O.B. when he played and I doubt old age has mellowed him one bit. Ultimately, Ben Crenshaw should be the ceremonial starter. He and The Masters were made for each other.
Mastroianni: Tiger Woods as replacement. But the way things are going he might be in worse shape than Palmer. All joking aside no one can replace The King. Here’s hoping all is good and it’s simply a temporary health issue.
Rule: It’s sad to see the King looking as feeble as he is. I’m glad to hear he’ll still be at the Masters, and no, nobody should take his place hitting his ceremonial tee shot, let him have the spotlight with Jack and Gary, in what might be his last one sadly. I hope not, here’s hoping we see him at several more Masters.
Kaplan: Sir Charles Barkley.
Kenesky: In no particular order.. they should choose Raymond Floyd, Nick Faldo or Ben Crenshaw. I’m leaning towards Crenshaw as he’s been a long time figure of the Tournament.
Quinn: I think it’s too hasty to draft a replacement. Palmer says he will try to attend the ceremonial opening tee shots, and until he doesn’t show up to watch it’s too early. By then, who is next? Eldrick won’t do it, but maybe it’s time for Crenshaw or Watson now that both have played their last Masters. Sad, but the torch is about to be passed on a pleasant tradition worth saving.