Delivering a new Masters rating system
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Introducing the latest in golf handicapping science. You can thank me later.
One hits it Lefty long. One hits it Bubba long. One hits it Weirsy short.
Mickelson and Weir own green jackets, Watson doesn't. But he will one of these days. It just won't be one of these days this week. And now that Augusta National stretches longer than Washington Road, Weir has zero chance.
Cink and Harrington are two of the most agreeable and accessible players on tour. And they've won majors. So even though a cement driveway can cure in the time it takes them to finish a round, I've got a soft spot for the fellas.
I know AK has played well here, but AN is built for DJ's game. Best news of all for him: There are fewer than 50 bunkers at Augusta National.
My heart tells me Ishikawa, mostly because he's donating his 2011 golf earnings to the tsunami/earthquake relief fund. So if he won this week, that'd be about $1.35 million to the fund.
But the heart loses this one.
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Couples is 51, but his back is 101. And is it a good thing that when someone asked Olazabal how his game was, the two-time Masters champ did a Charles Barkley and said, "Turrible."
Anyway, Uihlein, the U.S. Amateur champ, has the golf chops to possibly make some noise. But he and Sam Snead have the same chance of winning this thing.
I talked to Tiger's practice round buddy Arjun Atwal after they played Wednesday. Atwal said Woods' game is "really close" to being championship ready. Said it's just a matter of bringing his game from the practice range to the first tee.
I don't doubt a word of it. But Westwood's game is ready now. And Woodland is so hellaciously long that anything is possible with that guy.
First-time Pro Invitees: Atwal, Day, Rickie Fowler, Hiroyuki Fujita, Peter Hanson, Gregory Havret, Charley Hoffman, Kyung-Tae Kim, Martin Laird, Overton, D.A. Points, Kevin Streelman, Jhonattan Vegas, Mark Wilson, Woodland.
Wilson is your 2011 FedEx Cup points leader. In April, that's like pouring low-cal vinaigrette over five scoops of Ben & Jerry's -- it doesn't mean anything. Woodland and Laird won on the Florida swing.
And yet, I'm leaning toward the kid with the oversize ball cap.
Guys Whose Fractional Jet Ownership Plane Was On Fire Earlier This Week: Westwood, Ross Fisher.
On a flight from Houston to Augusta, the cockpit of their Citation Excel began filling with smoke. The crew had to make an emergency return. Fire engines stood ready alongside the runway.
Westwood took it in stride, cracking wise on the flight. Fisher, not so much.
Westwood advances (again).
Second-Round Tee Times
Tee times for Friday's second round of the 2011 Masters: Defending champion Phil Mickelson is in the 10:30 a.m. ET group with Geoff Ogilvy and amateur Peter Uihlein. Pairings
When in doubt, go alphabetical.
You can make a case for each of these four. Poulter popped off earlier in the week about Woods not finishing in the top five, so he's cooked. Karma. Donald is getting a lot of Masters love, but I'm not convinced.
Guys Who Would Know How To Throw A Post-Masters Celebration Party: Kim, Graeme McDowell, Westwood.
Again with Westwood?
Hmmm. Cejka, the world's No. 173-ranked player, or Kaymer, the world's No. 1?
Els could win for his son Ben, who has autism. Furyk could win for all of us with homemade swings. Garcia could win for Seve Ballesteros. Snedeker could win for his newborn. Stricker could win for all the nice guys. Same with Ogilvy.
Johnson, Immelman and Cabrera tag teamed the Masters in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Time for another green jacket newcomer?
The finalists: Watney, Els, Kaymer, McDowell, Molinari (Edoardo version), Westwood, Fowler, Uihlein, Singh, Casey, McIlroy, Johnson (Dustin version), Harrington and Mickelson.
And your 2011 Masters champion is ...
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.
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2011 champion: Charl Schwartzel
Course: Augusta National Golf Club
Where: Augusta, Ga.
Yardage, par: 7,435 yards, par-72
Augusta flyovers: Front 9 | Back 9