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    From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

    I can't wait for this year's Masters to start. The bookmakers are barely offering more than evens on Tiger, which, the way he's been playing recently, seems reasonable, but it's worth remembering that Woods hasn't scored under 70 at Augusta since they tightened the course up after his 2005 win - he didn't even break par last year. Of course, while he's not been scoring the 65s and 66s like he used to (par at the old Augusta was effectively 67 for Woods), he's still done well enough to finish 3rd and 2nd.

    Retief Goosen is an interesting one to watch this year, methinks. He's finished in the top three in each of the last 3 Masters (last year despite opening 76-76), and there's something about Goosen that makes it easy to imagine him putting a Green Jacket on. He's got the safe, sensible course management of a Langer, or a Singh, that is needed sometimes at this event.

    It's been a full 9 years since the last European winner, following the era when our players won it 8 times in 12 years. Padraig Harrington played well at Augusta last year, and with a better first round would have been right in contention, but I always doubt Padraig in the "pressure cooker" and wouldn't trust him to be able to close out 3-4-4 if he had to. Justin Rose finished fifth last year, including a 69 in the first round, and if he can avoid mistakes and play a bit more conservatively on the tough holes instead of finding water trying to push it, he'll have a chance. Sergio Garcia proved in the past that he had the game for Augusta, but since they "Tiger-proofed" it he seems to have suffered more than Tiger, missing the cut these last two years.

    Among the other contenders, well in any field of this calibre there is always the possibility of a surprise winner, as Zach Johnson proved last year. Among the younger players Sean O'Hair is always a name I'm tempted to look for each-way (although he's never made the cut at the Masters) and Stewart Cink has been a top-ten finisher before at Augusta and has had some good results this season. Australian Geoff Ogilvy would not be a surprise winner, and I'll be very interested in the fortunes of Choi Kyung-Jo ("KJ" Choi) who is winning for fun on the PGA tour recently, but has yet to win a major. In fact, no Asian player (discounting Vijay Singh, the Indo-Fijian) has ever won a men's professional major, and if Choi were to become the first it would be huge for golf not only in his own country but in the whole of that part of the world.

    Rogin's Masters predictions

    1. Woods
    2. Goosen
    3. Cink

    #2
    From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

    "our players"? Do British golf fans really think in this way?

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      #3
      From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

      British sports fans generally are more used to following national teams, and so are more inclined to import those loyalties into individual sports, I'd say, yeah. "Come on, Tim!" and all that.

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        #4
        From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

        I understand that, and I think that's a pretty common phenomenon worldwide. However, I think by "our", Rogin was referring to European players, not just British ones. That strikes me as odd.

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          #5
          From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

          Except that in golf, the team concerned is, precisely, "Europe".

          I do find it odd among golf's demographic, which seems to overlap substantial with your "Eurosceptics". But it just shows, I think, how little these allegiances have to do with politics in this country, for most fans. It's a bit like the way most English football fans think of the rivalry with Argentina as centring on a handball, whereas the Argentinians are more likely to think of a certain group of islands in the South Atlantic...

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            #6
            From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

            Right. Excellent point.

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              #7
              From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

              SS, yes, I think - especially when it comes to winning at the Masters - British golf fans have "adopted" all European players as "ours", since the early 80s.

              It's a lot to do with with the Ryder Cup, of course, where "we" - Europe - get to do battle with "them", the Yanks, every two years - but it's also a little more deeply ingrained in the psyche, because back in the days of the 1980s, there was a huge deal of pride taken in the fact that a player - any player - could leave the play-for-a-penny British events at venues like Southport and Woburn one week, and end up winning tournaments like the US Masters that were supposedly the preserve of the (American) gods of the game like Hogan, Snead, Palmer and Nicklaus. A whole generation of "our" players like Peter Alliss and Neil Coles had toiled without success in America, and only Tony Jacklin really made any impact at all. So when Seve Ballesteros, in particular, became the first of the continental European golfers to enjoy success "over there" in the 1980s, British fans took him to their heart, and he was then followed in that respect by Langer, Parnevik, Bjorn and now Garcia and Stenson (as well as the British and Irish lads like Lyle, Faldo, Woosnam and Harrington).

              It is - undoubtedly - true that most golf club members cheer for a united Europe in this respect while hating the idea of a politically-integrated Europe to the back groove on their nine-iron, though, and that's well pointed out.

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                #8
                From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                I love the Masters. I don't watch it as much as I did when I was younger but I'll make sure I see the closing 9 at least.

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                  #9
                  From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                  What Wyatt said. The Ryder Cup is a lot to do with this and the only occasion I've seen EU flags waved with enthusiasm. The media here has played up the faux pas of the US team as well
                  - Dave Stockton rudely referring to his team as "the best 12 players in the world" in 1989, the "war on the shore antics" in 1991, the persistent abuse of Colin Montgomerie, and the celebrations in 1999 that involved running all over Olazabal's line.

                  But European golfers are probably less than cuddly, of course.

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                    #10
                    From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                    Montgomerie's rather more than cuddly. [/potkettle]

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                      #11
                      From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                      Paul Azinger's stoked the fire for this year's Ryder Cup, already, intimating that not even half of the European team would have much to do with (captain) Nick Faldo on a social basis.

                      And he's right. But then again, that's arguably why Faldo won six majors, and Azinger, amiable bloke that he was, won just one (and that came when Greg Norman had one of his career-defining, "Ain't I the nice bloke", lapses, when he should really have left Azinger in the dust, like Faldo did when the two of them were head-to-head.

                      Tiger Woods, famously, can't play in fourballs or foursomes with partners. He's been one of the American team's biggest liabilities in that respect in every Ryder Cup he's had to play in. But he's won 13 majors as an individual. Go figure.

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                        #12
                        From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                        I always like to put a bet on the majors, and then I like to put another one on Saturday, after my initial choice misses the cut.

                        I'm thinking Adam Scott or Mike Weir as decent each way shots, even though neither are exactly on top form. What do you think Rogin?

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                          #13
                          From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                          Mike Weir would be a surprise repeat champion, as you say he's been out of sorts for some time since his career year of 2003, but the Masters sometimes is an event where former champions come back and win again despite the recent form book - no-one foresaw Bernhard Langer winning in 1993, or Ben Crenshaw in 1995, or indeed Nick Faldo in 1996. Weir played well enough to get a top-ten finish at last year's Open Championship, so if he can drag that sort of form out of the bag he might be there or thereabouts. On the subject of former champions, I noticed Fred Couples playing well at last weekend's PGA Tour event - now, Couples played well enough to finish 3rd here as recently as 2006, and if he were to win, it would be probably the golfing story of 2008. Couples, at 47, would become the oldest Masters winner of all time, and a popular one at that, and at 80-1 he's very tempting for a small each-way bet, as one of those "kick yourself you weren't backing him" cover bets if he does win.

                          Adam Scott seems destined, like Justin Rose, to win majors at some point in his career, but I don't know if it will be this year. Scott has proven he can win on Augusta-style "target golf" courses - he's won at Sawgrass in the past, and at East Lake - so he must be worth a punt each-way if he's around 40-1.

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                            #14
                            From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                            Azinger might be personable but he was just as preposterously anti-Clinton as the rest of the 1993 Ryder Cup team who only agreed to meet the president after Tom Watson insisted. Didn't look particularly nice there.

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                              #15
                              From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                              I'm thinking of taking your tip on Stewart Cink instead of Weir now.

                              Think you're pulling my leg about Fred Couples though...

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                                #16
                                From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                Well, I've put my bets on just now. Goosen, Ogilvy and Cink all 1 e/w, and Couples (yes, seriously) 50p e/w.

                                You can tell I'm a recognised player at the tables in Monte Carlo. I really only bet on golf so I can get the satisfaction of being able to say to people "I thought so", and then weep quietly to myself when I realise how much I could have won whenever I'm right and should have multiplied all my stakes by a factor of 100.

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                                  #17
                                  From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                  I've gone for Cink and KJ Choi, both each way.

                                  I will be keeping a close eye on Couple's progress also.

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                                    #18
                                    From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                    I've gone for a small wager on Daniel Chopra, Justin Leonard and Aaron Baddeley to finish in the Top 10.

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                                      #19
                                      From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                      1 each way from me on Goosen, based almost entirely on Rogin's tips.

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                                        #20
                                        From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                        I've got a quid each way on Goosen too. Put the same on Els in the betting 'without Woods'.

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                                          #21
                                          From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                          I have no idea what this thread title means. Do the holes each have their special names? And what exactly is "Amen Corner"? CBS kept on going on about it during the NCAA Tournament. Speaking of which, I would have named the thread "A tradition unlike any other", which is what the commercials here for it say.

                                          DirecTV is doing some crazy simultaneous four-camera coverage of this in HD. Wasted on people like me.

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                                            #22
                                            From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                            Each hole is named after a tree or a flower.

                                            Amen Corner is the 11th, 12th & 13th holes. The wind is tricky and water is in play. Lots of dreams have been shattered in front of the large gallery here.

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                                              #23
                                              From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                              Nil a fhios agam wrote:
                                              Each hole is named after a tree or a flower.
                                              Really? Man, the way people treat Augusta like it's some sacred ground annoys me.

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                                                #24
                                                From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                                No. 1 - Tea Olive
                                                No. 2 - Pink Dogwood
                                                No. 3 - Flowering Peach
                                                No. 4 - Flowering Crab Apple
                                                No. 5 - Magnolia
                                                No. 6 - Juniper
                                                No. 7 - Pampas
                                                No. 8 - Yellow Jasmine
                                                No. 9 - Carolina Cherry
                                                No. 10 - Camellia
                                                No. 11 - White Dogwood
                                                No. 12 - Golden Bell
                                                No. 13 - Azalea
                                                No. 14 - Chinese Fir
                                                No. 15 - Firethorn
                                                No. 16 - Redbud
                                                No. 17 - Nandina
                                                No. 18 - Holly

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                                                  #25
                                                  From Arnie on Tea Olive to Tiger on Holly...

                                                  There is a golfer, currently in the lead, named Heath Slocum. There is a former baseball player, completely unrelated, named Heathcliff Slocum. I find this mindblowing.

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