I’ve been attending the Masters since 1998 but until you can share it with someone who has never been, well it is just a place that every golfer needs to go. In 2001, it was my father in law Butch that went with me for the first time. He never takes this trip for granted. Butch battled Leukemia and won but in the process he missed the trip to Augusta two years ago so he has a great appreciation for Augusta. I knew it was going to be a great day when he looked at my son, Nicklaus as we approached the gate on Monday (acting like a kid himself) and said,”This will be one of the greatest days of your life!’ and that we are so blessed to be here. He was right. I was so excited to share this special day with my 10-year-old son, Nicklaus Palmer (you have to love the name) who has become a passionate golfer in the last 2 years. Ever since he started going to the Wachovia (now the Wells Fargo Championship) he got the bug and I love it. We are entering the gate and he pulls out a plastic baggie to put some Augusta grass into. That is what passionate golfers do and I love it. Nick couldn’t believe the condition of the golf course and he loved walking the golf course and seeing all of the holes that he had only seen on the internet and TV. After walking the course and watching Tiger and a few others play a few holes, we hit the range to watch the boys practice which I hoped would be educational and it was. He loved watching the short game area as we witnessed Hunter Mahan (one of his favorite players) take a pitching lesson. Is that what you want me to do daddy? Is all he said as he studied the technique of Hunter and Patrick Cantlay hitting wedge shots. The day would not have been complete without Nick’s favorite golfer making an appearance. Rickie Fowler. Even though it was 2:00 and we were getting tired, his step quickened as we caught up with his idol on the second hole. We followed Rickie throughout every shot on the front nine and Nick managed a couple of responses from all the “nice shot Rickie” that he kept throwing out after every shot and even got a high-five on no. 6 tee (I don’t think he has washed his hand). He even managed a few autographs such as Jack Fleck, which I thought was pretty cool. All in all it was a spectacular day spent with my boy and I think we created some memories of a lifetime. As we walked out of the gate Nick said,”Dad, can I come back next year?” You got it buddy, thanks for sharing this day with me and Papa. On the ride home, Nick told me the list of things that he learned from the day and that he couldn’t wait to get back and practice them on the golf course……..like father like son, always trying to learn and get better and I love him for that. He said that he will be playing in the Masters in 10 years (Big Dreams never hurt).
So to my Masters Picks:
1. Tiger: I know he is on everyone’s list but I don’t think I would have said this a couple of months ago. After watching him practice in person, there were no multiple rehearsal swings that I am used to seeing him make as he is working on his swing changes which means that he finally trusts his new move. As Phil Mickelson said in his press conference,”That Sucks for the Rest of Us.” He is as confident as I have seen him as his body language reflects it.
2. Rory McIlroy – redemtion time
3. Matt Kutchar- looked good Monday and I think is ready to win a major
4. Adam Scott – great showing last year and the new putter is working which has been missing in past majors
5. Padraig Harrington – was spotted working with AimPoint inventor, Mark Sweeney. Big advantage and has been hitting it better of late
Dark horses to watch out for:
Rickie Fowler – did not miss a shot the nine holes we walked with him. Puttng is the only problem. If he figures out the greens he could be dangerous
Bo Van Pelt – Aimpointer that has played well in the past. I like him to get another top 10
Bill Haas – Has the game to compete in the majors and has the length
I am not sure there has been a more anticipated Masters as this one and it should not disappoint. It looks like the course will play soft and long so you have to carry the ball far and hit the long irons well so we will see. Who is your top five picks? Thanks for reading and enjoy the Masters.