Ready. Set. Go? Who’s Primed for the Masters?

March 25, 2015

Are you ready for some Masters?

Golf fans, of course, are always ready. It has been eight months since our last major, and some Northerners will tell you that’s how long this difficult winter has lasted. They are ready for spring and to many, the Masters equals springtime.

Anyway, here’s your official checklist of who (and what) is ready for the Masters and who (and what) isn’t:

Rory McIlroy It appeared that the world’s No. 1 player would enjoy a rip-roaring year when he began 2015 with a second-place finish in Abu Dhabi and a win at Dubai. But after a month’s break, he hasn’t rediscovered his form. There was a missed cut at the Honda Classic. He had a minor meltdown at Doral, where he famously flung his 3-iron into a lake. At Bay Hill he looked close but something was still not right. With two weeks until the Masters, only one conclusion is possible. Ready or not? Almost, but not quite.

Tiger Woods Let’s see, he has finished two rounds this year, his scoring average is 77.5, he has yipped, boned, chunked and fluffed chips, and he WD’d at Torrey Pines with a bad back. Is he ready for Augusta? Hell, is he even going to play? Not ready.

Phil Mickelson Augusta National has the fastest, most severely sloped greens in golf, and Lefty ranks 184th in three-putt avoidance and 187th in putts per round this season. Uh-oh. Is it too late to start putting sidesaddle? Not ready.

Bubba Watson He’s got a first, a second and a third in six starts this season and, oh yeah, he has won two of the last three Masters. But he’s also as skittish as a French poodle in a room full of German Shepherds. Maybe ready.

Bookmakers The early odds as set by Ladbrokes have McIlroy the favorite at 4-1 and Watson the second choice at 10-1. How have times changed? Tiger and Phil are well down the list at 20-1. Bet you didn’t think that would ever happen, but the bookies want your money. Don’t be a sucker. Ready.

Adam Scott The former Masters champ saw his streak of 45 cuts end at the Valspar Championship and his revised putting technique (claw grip with a standard-length model) has been spotty enough that he’s considering going back to his anchored long putter for one last Masters run. Not really ready.

Augusta hotel rates The Augusta Chronicle reports that the average Friday night hotel rate in the Augusta area during Masters week last year was $311. A week later the average dipped to $64. So, tourists, they see you coming. Ready.

William Porter Payne The Masters chairman’s smile is warm, and while you’re charmed by his opening media chat line, “Hi, I’m Billy Payne…” he’s got his scythe honed to a sharp edge, just in case. Oh, yeah, ready.

Zach Johnson Sunday’s Zach Attack concluded with an albatross at Bay Hill’s par-5 16th hole. Hey, Arnie, know it’s time to lengthen No. 16 when Z.J. is dunking on it. He is a Masters champ, though. Maybe Sarazen will have to move over. Ready.

Jordan Spieth A big win in Australia, a playoff victory at Innisbrook and this kid is closing like Mariano Rivera. He was runner-up to Watson in 2014, when he would’ve been the youngest Masters champion by five months, besting Tiger. On a roll. Oh so ready.

Patrick Reed He’s got young Raymond Floyd’s brashness and young Lanny Wadkins’ killer instincts. Raymond won a Masters and Lanny should have. Don’t mess with Patrick. Very ready.

Brooks Koepka The Waste Management Phoenix Open champion, a rising star at 25, figured to be a Masters threat as a rookie due to his length off the tee. But he suffered a dislocated rib that forced him to pull out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational during the final round. Probably not ready.

Arnold Palmer Despite a couple of falls and a dislocated shoulder that isn’t healed, Arnie says he intends to take part in the ceremonial first tee shot. So he’ll be there even if he has to putt the ball with the handle in his teeth. Ready.

Burritos Attention, CBS, here’s another tradition unlike any other. Bubba Watson told the Chronicle that both times he won the Masters, he ate at least one chicken burrito every night during the week. No way Bubba changes his routine. Prep the rice and black beans. Ready.

John Daly There’s room for one more Masters tradition unlike any other. Daly parks his motorhome in the Hooters lot on Washington Road, hawks his logoed line of The Lion merchandise, poses for photos and signs autographs. Play golf? He hasn’t qualified for the Masters since 2006. Is the bus gassed up, honey, and did you get the oil changed? Ready.

Richmond County commissioners Because drones have gotten so sophisticated, Augusta commissioners recently approved a countywide ban on launching or operating remote-controlled aircraft for 11 days in early April. No remote flying Peeping Toms with cameras, please, or you will be removed at the point of a bayonet. Ready.

Augusta Regional Airport Two taxiways will be used for parking during Masters week, doubling the number of planes that can be parked there to about 200, according to the Chronicle. The previous parking reservation system has been junked, and now the jet spots for the estimated 3,000 takeoffs and landings of private aircraft will be doled out first-come, first serve. Ready.

You Say, those Doritos crumbs on the couch in front of the big-screen TV aren’t still there from the Super Bowl, are they? C’mon, man. Nowhere near ready.

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