2014 Masters: 18 bold predictions

Scott's resilience shines in Masters championship

2014 Masters: 18 bold predictions
April 8, 2014, 10:45 am
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Adam Scott became the first Australian in the Masters' 77-year history to win the event, when he won in 2013. (AP)


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Before getting to this year's ranking of the entire Masters field, let me first give you 18 other predictions, because if you don’t think 18 is a round number, well, to steal a line from a man called The Dude, obviously you’re not a golfer ...

1. You'll hear frequently this week that the tournament is "wide open" with Tiger sidelined after back surgery. Want to sound smart? Use math instead of cliches. Without Woods, the field size lessened from 98 competitors to 97. That means every player's chance of winning skyrocketed from 1.02 percent to a whopping 1.03 percent. That's not as sexy as blindly maintaining this one more "wide open," but it is the truth.

2. Some feel-good story will take the opening-round lead. Popular options are old champions like Fred Couples or Tom Watson. But I'll take another guy from the 50-and-over set: Miguel Angel Jimenez. The World’s Most Interesting Golfer shoots 67 to lead Thursday - and live streaming cameras are set up on the range Friday morning to detail his stretching routine.

3. There will be a rules controversy. It will be something simple and stupid – a player accidentally steps on his ball in the rough or is guilty of grounding his club in a hazard. And yet, based on the maelstrom last year around Guan Tianlang's slow-play penalty and Tiger's drop, you'll see a few dozen very important-looking people pointing to a very small piece of ground and whispering to each other for a while.

4. Fuzzy Zoeller won't be able to pop the champagne until late Sunday afternoon. OK, so Fuzzy never pulls a '72 Dolphins anyway. He doesn't even consider himself the only first-timer to win, even though Horton Smith and Gene Sarazen won the first two Masters, so it's not like they even had much of a choice. There are 23 tournament rookies in this year's field – and a lot of 'em are really good. You'll see at least one or two still in contention on Sunday's back nine.

5. The Golf Gods will pay us back. They are usually only spoken of in negative tones, but the game's karma collectors can also be benevolent. And they understand that they've robbed us from watching a healthy Woods and have already given us an eclectic mix of winners this year. Through my rose-colored glasses, I see a bunch of big-time talents vying for the title on Sunday. Augusta is usually a No Fluke Zone anyway, but even more so this time.

6. Some players will be either psyched up or psyched out before they even hit a shot. Here's short-hitting Jim Furyk from a few weeks back: “I want to get there and see the wind in my face on (No.) 1, if there's going to be any breeze. I want 1 to play hard. The rest of the golf course then turns in my favor. … If 1 is downwind and it just rained for the last two days, I know it's going to be a long day for me.” What a mindbender. I'd never heard that before. But in such a mental pursuit, it's interesting to note that certain players will toss some grass into the air on the first tee and sort of already know their fate.

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