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2011 Masters Preview: Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods & Nick Watney

On Thursday, the Masters gets under way at Augusta National as one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world, begins. Held every April, the Masters, is the first major golf tournament of the 2011 PGA year. The appeal of the Masters has grown over time as a result of great performances, traditions and a proud history. While the four-day tournament does in fact bring together the best golfers in the world, it seems all anyone wants to talk about is Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

Not that anyone wagers on these things wink-wink, but just for shits and giggles, upon last look at the sports book that I have an account with (sorry mom, I have an account), Mickelson and Woods were the two favorites in the tournament. Surprise!

People want to see Phil and Tiger have a rivalry in the worst way, so much so that they appear willing to wager on it. It doesn’t matter if either of them were playing particularly well or not coming into this event; you could have written down on Christmas Day that Phil and Tiger were going to get money thrown their way in this year’s Masters.

I’m not exactly sure when Tigers last PGA win was, I’m sure one of you golf yahoo’s either know or are interested enough to look it up. One thing I don’t understand though is why Woods felt so compelled to change a swing that had brought him 71 tour victories. I’ve heard Tiger talk about the need to change both his personal life and his golf swing, but he never really explained why his old swing wouldn’t work anymore?

It’s pretty ironic that Tiger who is now known for “sticking it in the hole” both on and off the course has had such a hard time doing just that. Unlike last year where the sentiment for Tiger seemed mixed with people adamantly choosing sides, the haters just don’t seem to be around this time, while the supporters still remain. I’d kinda like to see the guy win at some point. It’s almost like, ”Ok Tiger, you can come out of your room now, but you had better behave.”

There are those sicko’s out there who love to see train wrecks (don’t look at the screen that way, you know who you are) and Tiger’s was certainly ugly. Those train wrecks seem funny when they happen to others, particularly someone who is famous and well to do. Those same human catastrophes aren’t quite as amusing when they happen to you or a member of your inner circle. I don’t wish ill will upon anyone. To me what a professional athlete does off the field and in his personal life is none of my business. I just want to see the guy play.

Phil is a kind of lovable guy and “character fans” or “anti-Tiger” fans will point to his family situation. That’s good stuff and all but I like him because he’s a gambler. Yes he likes to wager on sports, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Golfers are supposed to play the course and hit certain clubs certain ways at certain times and it often appears that Phil just does whatever he feels like. In fact, Phil plays very much like I do. Sure, he finishes his rounds in 20 less shots on average then I do. Yes it’s true, he’s lefty and I’m righty. Ok, he putts better, drives better and has a better game in the fairways, bunkers and around the greens, but besides that our games are almost identical.

Although I like to watch both of these guys play, I’m not rooting for either of these two guys next week. I’m rooting for the guy that I’m placing my money on (yes I know, how selfish), Nick Watney. Nick is 15-1 and far from a long shot, but I think the risk reward is in my favor. Watney who already has a win this spring at Doral has been on a career-best run and hasn’t finished worse than 13th all season. His 7th place finish at the Masters last year shows me he can play the course too.

You guys go ahead and enjoy the rivalry while I’m counting my money.

The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at You may email Mike @ or follow him on Twitter @RotoExperts_MC3

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