April 7, 2004  
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2004 Masters: Tiger, Phil, Vijay or some guy

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo
SEE VIJAY. SEE VIJAY PIMP. PIMP, VIJAY, PIMP. Despite his chauvinistic attitude towards Annika Sorenstam, Vijay Singh has no problems spending time with other women on the golf course — as long as they aren’t capable of besting him on the links, that is.

Mike Weir won the 2003 Masters. It’s still kind of hard to believe, isn’t it?

I spent the final round watching the action with some classmates after an exam. I was on the edge of my seat while my attempts to convince everyone about the gravity of the situation went unnoticed.

Me: This is amazing! A Canadian has a chance to win the Masters!

Classmate: Cool. Hey, what was your answer to that question about Samuel Beckett?

Bah. The only thing Beckett-related about last year’s Masters was the tragi-comic sight of Len Mattiace choking during the first playoff hole, allowing Weir to win his (and Canada’s) first major golf championship. The final round erased the bad taste of the “no female members at Augusta National” controversy that threatened to turn the tournament into a circus. This year, Martha Burk is staying at home, Hootie Johnson will concentrate on running his club and the focus will be on golf.

Here are some of the favourites for this year’s Masters tournament and their respective chances:

Tiger Woods: Only Tiger Woods could be having a “bad year” when he’s won a tournament and already made almost $2 million. Even still, Tiger doesn’t seem to be quite as dominant as he once was; his driving accuracy is way off and he hasn’t made one of his Sunday charges in a while. Some blame Tiger’s recent engagement or the firing of swing coach Butch Harmon, but I think the problem is that he’s taking too much advice from his wisecracking club head cover. Seriously, it’s just a matter of time before Tiger breaks his “slump” of not having won a major in his last (gasp!) six tries, and you can probably count on a top 10 finish at the very least.

Phil Mickelson: Watching Phil play golf is like watching a horror movie. You invariably find yourself screaming “No! What are you doing? Put down that driver!” Phil’s penchant for trying to make the spectacular shot has cost him dearly, which is one of the reasons he still holds the dreaded title of “Best Player Never To Win a Major.” If there’s any major Phil can win, however, it’s the Masters. He’s finished the last three years in third place, and if he can just avoid that one double-bogey that seems to pop up every round, Phil might finally get the major monkey off of his back.

Vijay Singh: Golf’s answer to the T-1000 just keeps playing and winning at the same, steady pace. Vijay already has one green jacket from 2000, and he has the kind of unshakable mental makeup needed to contend with Augusta’s many traps and tricks.

Adam Scott: The young Aussie has two high-profile wins in his brief PGA career thus far, including a dramatic win at the Players’ Championship two weeks ago. He’s been touted as the next big star and a major win would immediately put him on the map. Then again, his mentor is Greg Norman, so hopefully Scott tuned out during the lesson on how to play at the Masters. “OK Adam, here’s the trick to blowing a six-shot lead on Sunday... ”

John Daly: The sentimental favourite after his comeback win in San Diego two months ago, Daly barely qualified for the Masters. Much has been made of how Augusta suits Daly’s long-hitting game, but he has only one top 10 finish in nine Masters’ appearances. His winning would be a massive upset. Then again, Daly’s whole career has been about long shots.

Some Random Dude: Ben Curtis won the British Open. Shaun “The Heartbreak Kid” Micheel won the PGA Championship. Hell, across the border, Mike Weir wasn’t exactly a household name either. The PGA Tour is so deep that the current trend of a relative no-name winning a major could easily continue. Keep an eye on Briny Baird, Stephen Leaney or John Rollins to make some noise.

Mike Weir: Could he do it again? Only three men have ever won back-to-back Masters, and their names are Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods. Mike’s game has also varied wildly between very good (a win at the Nissan Open) and very bad (a missed cut at the Players’ Championship) this season.



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