Master’s picks/Pandora stations

So the Masters is tomorrow, and people are buzzing about what’s going to happen at this year’s tournament. As a certifiable golf nut, I’m very excited about what kind of conditions Augusta will be under, and what kinds of shots will go on. Of course, I wanted to throw my hat in the ring regarding who I think is going to win the Masters as well. We can probably place bets on it or something, but I decided to break it down like they do on The Approach on the Golf Channel:

Winner: Phil Mickelson

I really am not a fan of Phil or his game, but he definitely has the momentum coming into Augusta after his 20 under par win at the Shell Houston open, where he was three shots clear of the field. On top of that, he’s also the defending champion at the Masters, and to put it very modestly, the course just fits his game. Phil’s a big hitter, which helps on a lot of the lengthier holes, especially the par 5 15th hole, where Phil nuked an 8-iron about 200 yards to make the green in two. There are also large fairways at Augusta, which is like eating candy to Phil. And of course, he just has a knack for being aggressive – nobody can count the times he’s shoved off his caddy’s recommendation to go for the shot that makes the sports page (for better or worse). On the par 5 13th hole last year, he stuck a 204-yard second shot through trees and pine straw to 4 feet from the cup, which pretty much electrified the crowd and send him on his way to a third jacket. But even more so, the course generally promotes a right to left ball flight on most of the holes, which is actually Phil’s natural shot shape, making it even easier for him to stay aggressive. It’s going to be tough to beat Phil if he bring the focus he had last week, and last year.

Contender: Dustin Johnson

Another student of the Butch Harmon School of Golf, Dustin Johnson was famous for his performances last year in the US Open and the PGA Championship, neither of which were for good reasons. Pebble Beach got the better of Johnson in the final round, where he made a big stumble down the leaderboard as eventual winner Graeme McDowell held steady. At the PGA Championship, Dustin was the victim of a strange, oddball rulebook infraction where he grounded his club in what was deemed as waste bunker, incurring a penalty that took Dustin out of the playoff to win the major. However, Dustin’s attitude towards these two experiences has been quite impressive – instead of thinking “I was robbed of two majors last year”, his mindset was focused on “I almost won half the majors of 2010, and I’m bound to win one this year.” And he has the game to do just that. Augusta does favor longer hitters, and Johnson ranks among one of the biggest hitters on Tour. Distance alone can’t win the race at the Masters, but Johnson’s game has always proved to be effective in all areas, and his length off the tee will greatly reinforce his short game. However, because of his driving distance, he will need to avoid a lot of the fairway bunkers, which can severely stagger his chances to score low. But as long as he maintains a solid performance, he’ll make a deep run at this major for sure.

Dark Horse: Tiger Woods

It’s almost unreal to consider Tiger Woods as a dark house for any tournament, especially the Masters, when looking back at his past achievements at this tournament. But Tiger’s been retooling his golf game and his mental game ever since the events that unfolded in his personal life early last year. Tiger just doesn’t seem to have that aura around him anymore – that air of experience and intimidation. Most of the younger kids understand Tiger’s achievements and what he’s capable of doing, but they aren’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with him, even if they know they’re at a clear disadvantage. It seems almost as if the tournaments have been swallowing Tiger up, but the Masters is different. Although Tiger hasn’t won this event since 2005, he also hasn’t been out of the Top 10 in this event since 2005, either. Tiger knows the course and all the intricate details, and he’s been playing a quality game at Augusta, with the only variable being another golfer playing the round of his life to grab the green jacket. Tiger’s one pitfall right now is his decision making, which could be hampered by his mental state. He’s been going for shots that he hasn’t fully committed to with a swing that he hasn’t quite mastered yet with Sean Foley. He needs some peace of mind so that he can make the right decisions as well, and Augusta is the place where Tiger can find his zen. All of the spectators there aren’t interested in his personal life – they’re all die-hard golf fans who respect the reverence of the game and anyone that’s played well enough to be invited to the Masters. They’re there to see good shots, and if there’s anyone better at executing good shots under pressure, it’s Tiger.

It should be an awesome tournament, and I’m really excited to see it unfold =] I know, I chose all American players this time, completely shutting out people like Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, and Luke Donald, all of whom are excellent players as well. I do expect one of these three players to make top 5 in the tournament, especially Kaymer, who I think plays like a swing machine. If he has 160 yards to the flag, he’ll hit it close just about every time. He’s become the number 1 player in the world for a reason – the guy plays some solid golf. If the course conditions are friendly, Kaymer’s bound to make a big run of his own. Luke Donald has the shot shape suitable for this course, but his driving accuracy and length off the tee might hurt him a little, especially when the winds pick up and make some of the holes play considerably longer.

—–

I threw out the question on Twitter the other day about your favorite Pandora radio stations, because I’m trying to get into some new music. I’ve already made a ton of different stations, because I hate the idea that you can only have 5 skips per station. It’s not that the stations I chose are playing music I don’t like, but sometimes I’m just not in the mood for the songs that are playing. So I made quite a few for different occasions:

“Waiting for the End” radio – based on Linkin Park – alternative music
“Caught Up In You” radio – based on 38 Special – classic rock
“Every Morning” radio – based on Sugar Ray – 90’s music (rock)
“How Bizarre” radio – based on OMC – 90’s music (more hip hop based)
Hoxton Whores radio – super techno station
Space Raiders radio – another techno station
Finished Symphony radio – based on Hybrid – orchestrated electronic music
Phoenix radio – because I love Phoenix, yet Daft Punk always seems to crawl into this station
Jamiroquai radio – acid jazz/downtempo station
Nobuo Uematsu radio – nerd channel (mostly Final Fantasy music)
Royksopp radio – electronic station

I know, there’s not a lot of hip hop in here. I can take hip hop sparingly, but a lot of mainstream rap is just awful now, so I avoid it like the plague. I can’t get into country, mainly because it’s a much more unplugged sound – a lot of my music choices revolve around electronics and synth sounds.

That’s all for now. I gotta get back to work, but I’ll see you soon!

– Danny

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