Notes from the North
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Three weeks ago, I argued that Tiger Woods was on the brinkof re-taking his title as best golfer in the world. Two weeks ago, he won his first tournament in two and a half years.

And now we have the Masters looming this weekend, the biggie, the General to all the other Majors in men's professional golf. And it looks to be a doozie, with Woods coming off his big, monkey-relieving win at Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy playing well, Fun-time Phil looking like he's getting it together and even players like Luke Donald, Justin Rose, and Hunter Mahan being considered real threats to win the Green Jacket.

Picking the winner of a golf tournament is like picking the winner of the NCAA men's basketball title, at the start of the regular season. While there might be favourites, while you might be able to read momentum, talent, history, there are just too many factors to consider to be able to pick a single winner with any confidence at all.

These guys will pit themselves against a tough Augusta National course for a period of four days and, with the competition so fierce, even a single missed putt on Thursday can have a real impact on the outcome on Sunday.

And that's not just because it costs the putter a stroke in their total score, important enough on its own because these tournaments are often won and lost by a single stroke.

A missed putt can also influence a player's confidence, either because he was the one who missed the putt and suddenly doesn't trust his flat stick, or because he saw a rival miss the putt and gains confidence in thinking that his rival is vulnerable.

Stated at its most basic level, every stroke these men hit over the course of the four days will have a direct bearing on the outcome of the tournament. Every player is as close as a single shanked drive, a bad choice of club, a bad bounce from losing the tournament.

The winner will take about 270 shots on the Augusta National course this weekend and, with the competition so close and so many top players in top form, they may only have to make one of those 270 shots a bad one to fall out of contention.

So who am I picking to win this year's Masters?

Tiger is, in my mind, the favourite. Why? Because, if everything is right with him, if his mind is in the game and his mechanics are good, no one on earth can touch him.

I like Mickelson, too, because I think he's grown accustomed to the pressures of big tournaments and his game is good enough to tame any course.

Hunter Mahan impressed the heck out of me this past weekend and, as the only two-time winner on the tour this year, he's got to be in the running.

But I also like the guy who faded in the final round last weekend: Louis Oosthuizen. He's a top player with all the talent in the world. He's won a major already and he's got to be smarting from this meltdown last Sunday.

But wouldn't it be nice to see Canadian Mike Weir come out of nowhere to win another one? Or Vijay Singh?

I know. That's not picking a winner. That's just dropping a pile of names.

So here goes. In the 2012 Masters, I'm picking Justin Rose. And I can't say why. It just feels like Rose is about to put it all together and have a massive tournament.

Who are you picking?

April 4, 2012  04:43 PM ET

For some reason I'm thinking Luke Donald is going to win this one. I don't really have an answer for why though, ha!

I love this tournament the most. The undulated greens make for a lot of excitement!

April 5, 2012  07:46 AM ET

I had considered picking Donald as well. Not sure why but his name stuck out for me too. Maybe because he just never seems to get talked about when the top golfers are discussed so he has something to prove. We'll find out, starting today.

 
April 5, 2012  03:40 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

I had considered picking Donald as well. Not sure why but his name stuck out for me too. Maybe because he just never seems to get talked about when the top golfers are discussed so he has something to prove. We'll find out, starting today.

Well... he's +4 now with two holes to go, so picking Rose was probably a good idea!

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