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Tiger stalking leaders at Augusta

Observations of the PGA Tour, and predictions for the final day of the Masters

April 10, 2010
By B.J. Lisko, Salem News Sports Editor

Poor Lee Westwood. When Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Fred Couples are in some of the final pairings of Sunday at the Masters, no one is rooting for the Englishman. It's not like he's done anything that would make you really want to root against him. It's just no one wants to root for him. Lee Westwood's mom doesn't even want Lee Westwood to win.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem just a few months ago was looking at the prospects he had for the 2010 PGA Tour season.

-Tiger on indefinite hiatus.

-Mickelson playing, but not exactly playing well.

-Players going bonkers over Ping wedges from the 90s that fit a loophole in the groove rule.

-Players going bonkers over every time Tiger gave an interview, every time they were asked about Tiger, every headline having to do with Tiger when a tournament was going on.

Basically, it wasn't pretty. It was so bad that Saturday Night Live even did a spoof on it. (Look for it on Hulu.com, it's hilarious)

Now, Finchem has to be about the most ecstatic man in the world given the fact that not only is Tiger back, but he's in contention. Not only is Phil playing well, he's one off th lead. Not only is fan-favorite Fred Couples arguably the feel-good story of the tournament, he rebounded with a 68 to get back in the thick of things.

A few months ago, you could've written of the PGA season as dead before it began. The most exciting thing about it was John Daly on Twitter.

Now you don't have to dig for a story-line. There's a ton of them.

The final round at Augusta is going to be sick. It's shaping up to be one of the best finishes in major history.

How they're faring:

Thursday I gave my player's to watch at this year's Masters. Here's where they stand.

Rocco Mediate - didn't play cause he didn't qualify for the tournament. Thank you, PGATour.com for having him listed Tuesday, then promptly taking him off by late Wednesday night. He didn't withdraw or anything. He was never in the tourney! Whoops!

Miguel Angel Jiminez - Three over par. Just made the cut with rounds of 72-75. Hasn't mounted any kind of charge toward red numbers.

Fred Couples - Seven under par. If it wasn't for a bad back and a case of the yips on Friday, he'd be double-digit under par and have a much better chance to actually win. He'll need a 67 and some help.

K.J. Choi - Eight under par. Choi has been playing solid golf. Rarely do you see him way out of the mix. He's certainly got the game to pull it out.

Tiger Woods - Eight under par. Obviously the story of the tournament, there was never a doubt in my mind that Tiger would play pretty well. This wasn't the same case as when his father died and his head wasn't it in. His head has been involved in so much other stupid drama that he caused in the off-season that I'm sure he couldn't wait to get back to golfing. He'll need a big run and some help.

Sunday prediction

Lee Westwood has won just one time on the PGA Tour and that was back in 1998. He's won a ton on the European circuit, but his track record doesn't suggest he's going to hang on. I feel a 76 looming in a lackluster finish.

K.J. Choi is like stone. Nothing seems to get to him. Not playing with Tiger three straight days, not Augusta, not anything. There's nothing to suggest he's going to fall apart. Choi has a good a chance as any. I see 70 and a top five finish.

Fred Couples is great at Augusta, but how he feels when he wakes up early Sunday morning is going to determine his round. I think he'll be alright, but I don't think he'll have quite enough to pull it off. That 75 Friday killed him. I see 69 and a top five finish.

Phil Mickelson seems to either be fantastic or terrible. Sometimes it happens within the span of four or five holes. I think he'll be in contention all day, but ultimately, Phil will beat himself -72 and second place.

Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods. Sex scandal, four shots back. He's never won on Sunday of a major having to come from behind. He will at this tournament. Tiger shoots 68 and wins the Masters by a shot at 12-under par.

E-mail B.J. Lisko at bjlisko@salemnews.net

 
 

 

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