Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Masters 2016 - Magnolia, Azalea and Rose

Augusta National looks a picture of beauty on my TV screen every year and the many players and spectators, sorry "patrons", that visit, say the place is magical from the moment they drive up the 300 metre Magnolia Lane towards the clubhouse and course. The lane now has 60 magnolia trees each grown from seed over 150 years ago in the 1850s. (There was originally 61 trees but one tree fell in 2011 the week leading up to the tournament)Held the same weekend in April every year, the course is awash with April blooming plants and trees so much so that the eighteen holes are named after the various species that adorn this garden of golf. These are a sea of colour and will look spectacular to those in attendance with the exception of the players as they hope to stay on the grass!

1Tea Olive445410Camelia4954
2Pink Dogwood575511White Dogwood5054
3Flowering Peach350412Golden Bell1553
4Flowering Crab Apple240313Azalea5105
5Magnolia455414Chinese Fir4404
8Yellow Jasmine570517Nandina4404
9Carolina Cherry460418Holly4654


I'll be more interested in a rose variety than the natural species that adorn Augutsa National this week and that being, as per my final shortlist preview, a certain Mr. Justin Rose. The South African born Englishman won the US Open at Merion in 2013 and has been an ever-present world TOP10 golfer for quite some time. He was runner-up alongside Phil Mickelson last year as Jordan Spieth stole a march on them but there's a lot to like about Rose's chances at Augusta. Ten visits have seen him make the cut each time, his first effort being 39th and hes not finished as low since. Three TOP10s and five TOP25s is an impressive return and having practiced with Adam Scott last week, a winner here in 2013, Rose will be amongst those who will know all the perceived nuances of Augusta the most in a bid to capture his second Major. He's not three times the price of the "Big-3" for this week and is the blogs outright each way pick.

In the TOP20 markets, I have to go for another two Englishmen, both of whom bring a vast of course experience into the tournament; Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter. The latter warmed up in Puerto Rico two weeks ago in finishing T3rd. In his eleven visits to the Masters, Poults has produced three TOP10s, and four TOP25s, only missing the cut once. He loves the place and has shown in the Majors especially here and at his home Open that he tends to play his best. He has won two WGC titles, the Matchplay and the HSBC champions and has shown in those two tournaments alone that he tends to hold form. The matchplay win in 2010 was his only win on US soil, but he does have twelve European Tour titles in his locker also. The effort two weeks ago will have the Londoner in good form and brimming of confidence and he's well worth playing for a TOP20 here @ 5.00.

Likewise can be said of the now 42-year old Lee Westwood. Now destined to join Colin Montgomerie as one of the best from Britain never to have won a Major, he may just be a little more relaxed this week. Lee has played here sixteen times ; made the cut on 13 occasions yielding eight TOP25s of which five of those were TOP10s. For the TOP20 market, Westy can be backed @ 7.00 and that's real value considering he has produced a T20 seven times (43% of the time). As alluded to in one of my earlier previews in compiling the final shortlist, history says age is against potential winners but history has shown repeatedly that age is no barrier to a solid showing as Langer, Couples, Nicklaus, Watson, Singh and Cabrera have shown in recent years. With over 40 professional worldwide titles to his name, Westwood can throw out the current form book and and fallback on the vast experience that he has and as he said himself yesterday, sometimes its better to be rested and not over-prepare for this one. I agree and think he could really surprise this week.

1 pt e/w A. Scott @ 33/1 (February bet) 
1 pt e/w J.Rose @ 30/1

2 pts TOP20 I. Poulter @ 5.00
2 pts L. Westwood @ 7.00

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