Reading the Break by Andres Davidsson, PGA teaching professional.
Forget Phil or Tiger. The green jacket this year will most likely be worn by a European, says The Golf Stream’s playing analyst Andres Davidsson, a teaching professional and swing coach who believes Luke Donald will get his first major victory, and add a Masters title to a win that he has already captured this year at The Accenture World Match Play Championships in Arizona, where he beat world no. 1 Martin Kaymer in the final. Davidsson names several other possible winners as fallbacks to his theory.
I am looking to players who have the ability to hit the very few square feet of green that is on offer. Luke Donald is one of them, in my view. He is not a long hitter, is ranked 181st on tour in driving distance, but he has shown some fantastic putting like we saw in the Accenture World Match Play in Arizona. There he was playing a long track, but still managed to beat Martin Kaymer, the world no. 1, in the final.
Other picks for potential winners:
He has the ball flight that Augusta demands – hits a draw that is a big advantage on the majority of the holes at Augusta National. He can often shoot great scores in tough conditions and can putt well.
He has what it takes, but did not make the cut at Bay Hill. He has trouble hitting the ball low, so if the wind starts to blow at Augusta, he might run into trouble. Needs to putt better.
Lacks experience, but can hit a consistent draw. He seems to have a certain mentality and attitude that can go a long way, but of course he has not won on tour yet. Still, what he did in his singles match in The Ryder Cup last fall suggests that it is not the nerves that are to blame. He played very well on the first round at Bay Hill in high winds – hit the ball well and putted beautifully. He is a performer. Perhaps it is a question of achieving a certain maturity for him to break through.
Contenders who Will Come up Short:
Forget Phil and Tiger. Neither of them will win this year’s Masters, but count on them to somewhere near the top spot.
There are only four players in history who have won the Masters after winning on tour in the previous week. Mickelson is one of these four and I believe that the odds of him becoming the first player to do this twice is next to zero. But of course he played magnificently over a long stretch of holes in Houston.
Woods has been hitting the ball well on occasion, most notably with the short irons. He has obviously achieved some results in that department. It does not change the fact that he is still struggling in his swing and he has trouble turning that right hip. I would like to it go a lot deeper and higher. I want him to turn his right hip more – much more. So Woods is doing well on his short irons, but is still inconsistent in his long iron play and off the tee.
Likes to hit his fade. Augusta does not set up very well for him.
He is constantly fidgeting over his putts and re-aligning himself. He can surely maneuver the ball and he hits it long and high, but he needs to putt much better than he has done of late for him to have a chance to wear the green jacket on Sunday.
He is a good candidate. He can play all the shots that are needed to win at Augusta and he has the experience, but he is struggling on the greens and I just don’t understand why he does not go to the belly-putter. This seems to be a principle of his. He has said that he feels that the belly-putter should be banned, so Els is a victim of his own principles. Els averages 30.8 putts per round this year, but he hits 70% of his greens. We know he has the length as well. If he only got himself a belly-putter, then he would start winning again.
A very good iron player, but has a hard time hitting a high draw. This is not his favorite shot. He has been anything but convincing since gaining the top spot on the World Rankings and quickly gave it away to Martin Kaymer. Westwood seems to be trying too hard.
He was successful at Augusta as an amateur. Later on, he underwent significant changes in his technique and switched over to this one-plane philosophy. He has done well in recent months and has been very consistent. When he wins, it seems to be due to an even and consistent showing for a good, solid four days. Of course that’s important, but at Augusta there are so many obstacles that need to be conquered. You always have these dangerous holes – such as the eleventh and the twelfth – that always seem to rattle the players’ minds. Kuchar has wonderful memories from his amateur performance at Augusta. He has never been a better player entering the Masters. Solid.
He has the game for Augusta. He has been consistent, except for his tendency to have one bad round in an event. Take Bay Hill as an example, where he had two rounds of sixty-nine, and then followed that up with a seventy-five. This also happened the week before at the Honda Classic. He seems to have trouble finishing it off, like at the Ryder Cup.
Francesco Molinari and Sean O’Hair