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Defending Champ Mickelson The Favourite at Augusta

Defending Champ Mickelson The Favourite at Augusta


Phil Mickelson won the Shell Houston Open riding a weekend of world class play to his first win of the season and he served notice that his game is ready to mount a defense of his 2010 Masters title.

Mickelson looks at home year after year at the game’s first major and the proof is really in the results as he’ll be shooting for his fourth green jacket when the tournament tees off Thursday morning.

Furthermore, his win last week in Houston quells a seemingly universal concern that Lefty had lost some of his game.  Many believed the toll taken from the cancer battles endured by both his wife and mother had left him unable to compete with the killer instinct and focus needed to beat the best in the world. 

However, there should be more doubt and the fact he’s headed back to a place where he’s won before it seems right that he be the favourite at (13-2).

Sitting just behind Mickelson at (10-1) is Tiger Woods who, over the last decade, has been the perennial favourite to don the green jacket at week’s end.  At least for now, there’s a new world order as Tiger’s battles both on the course and off have left him winless for more than a year.

There’s few scenarios one can think of that would have Woods topping the Masters’ elite field.  He hasn’t shown any degree of consistency on the golf course as the four-time champion continues to go through an overhaul of his swing with coach Sean Foley.

Furthermore, talk about killer instinct, he’s averaged just better than 72 in Saturday and Sunday rounds this season.  That’s simply not going to get it done this week.

Nick Watney and world number two Lee Westwood come in behind the leading duo at (16-1), but the two players have differing tales in 2011.

Watney came away with the biggest win of his burgeoning career three weeks ago taking down the WGC – Cadillac Championship as he overtook third round leader Dustin Johnson down the stretch.

Couple that with the fact he’s been the most consistent player on Tour this season having made five top-10’s in six events.

 Westwood, meanwhile, hasn’t had a top-10 this season and may have crumbled under the pressure of holding the number one ranking that he ultimately lost to Martin Kaymer.

The English vet has been on a run of three straight top-20 finishes most recently placing 18th at the Cadillac Championship won by Watney, so he may be lifting himself out of this prolonged slump as he goes after his first major title.

From the land of long odds, there’s plenty to choose from this week, but Tour rookie Jhonattan Vegas jumps off the page at (250-1).  Vegas didn’t blink, despite a strong challenge from Phil Mickelson, as he held on for victory at the Bob Hope Classic so don’t expect him to be rattled in the pressure cooker of his first major.


The Masters and Augusta National are and always have been very special to me. From the first time I drove up Magnolia Lane at age 19, I had a special feeling about Augusta. Even today, I get chills driving up Magnolia Lane    - Jack Nicklaus

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