Masters Predictions 2012: 10 Bold Statements for This Year's Tournament

Immer Chriswell@@immerrangeCorrespondent IApril 3, 2012

Masters Predictions 2012: 10 Bold Statements for This Year's Tournament

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    We are only two days away from the first tee ceremony and the opening of the 2012 Masters, as well as the open to golf's 2012 major season.

    With so many players coming on as of late, there is a lot of speculation as to who may be making a surge early in the week.

    Regardless of all of this, we know that the Masters will not disappoint. Here's some things on the wild side to consider.

Tiger Woods Leads After Day 1

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    Yes, it's a little bit of a cliche to pick Tiger, but let's be serious: Tiger doesn't lead early, often. Especially as of late.

    Tiger is much more of a person to grab the lead in the middle-two rounds.

    However, this year Tiger knows that he has to start hot. Leading after day one sure wouldn't hurt. Watch out for a five-under round to be the leader after day one.

Keegan Bradley Finishes the Tournament in the Top 5

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    Despite his rookie status at Augusta National, Keegan Bradley proved to the PGA Tour that rookie status means nothing. Regardless of how many years he's been at it, he can find a way to compete.

    Bradley has to focus hard on the greens to make this come true, however. His belly putter was pretty steady throughout the past year, and to make a splash, he needs to make some putts. It will help cushion the learning curve that comes with Augusta.

    However, in the end it will not be enough for a green jacket for Bradley. Top five, not bad though.

Phil Mickelson Will Not Finish in the Top 5

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    Although everyone knows Phil's game can be up-and-down, at Augusta National he is a regular for the top of the leaderboard. Augusta also probably has a green jacket pre-prepared in his size (as they do Tiger), just to make it easy.

    However, Phil didn't quite step it up at the Shell Houston like he could have, and didn't look comfortable at times.

    Although you'd rather not try to post back-to-back wins including the Shell and the Masters, you could sense some disappointment in Phil that he played a course he knows so well at an average level, and couldn't pull out the win.

    Although local knowledge is a huge help, for Phil, this week will not be his.

Augusta National Will Not Announce the Addition of a Female Member This Week

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    Despite media and cultural demand, Augusta National remains a men's club for the time being. There are rumors that IBM CEO Virginia Rometty will be made a member.

    As the CEO of the company that runs the Masters website, it would make sense that she would be in strong consideration.

    However, considering the nature of the Masters, Augusta National should and will refrain from upstaging anything with a membership announcement. They are too intelligent to waste media time on something not related to golf, and will wait a little before making it official.

    That said, Augusta will have its first female member soon. Next addition to Augusta: women's locker room.

Fred Couples Finishes Top 10

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    Coming into his fourth consecutive week of play, Fred Couples finds himself at Augusta for the 20th time in his career.

    In spite of his well-known name, Couples has only one major title to his name, and that is the Masters which he won in 1992. 

    At 52, Fred's back issues are well known, and he has had multiple opinions, and one innovative treatment in Europe to fix the issue. 

    After a win just a few weeks back, Couples will find his groove at Augusta and be mentioned all week.

Luke Donald Remains No. 1 After the Masters

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    Right now, Luke Donald leads Rory McIlroy by a slim .11 margin in the Official World Golf Rankings. Translation? Rory can relatively easily become the top player in the world even without winning, which many people have him doing.

    However, Donald has his game face on. He was able to come from behind in the final round of the Transitions Championship to reclaim his world ranking. Luke Donald tries to deny it, but who doesn't like the view from the top of the pile?

    Right now, it's Luke and his putter looking down upon the rest of the golfing world, the way it will stay for the week.

Hunter Mahan Will Finish Outside the Top 25

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    With the recent wins Hunter Mahan has had, you'd think it crazy to say he won't have a shot at a green jacket come Sunday.

    However, before the hot streak, Mahan had one top-10 in four other performances. It's tough to write someone off for playing well, but very few people pull off a Phil Mickelson feat and win the Shell Houston and the Masters in consecutive weeks (known as the BellSouth back in '06).

    Although he is the highest-ranked American in the world at No. 4, Hunter Mahan's luck will hit a rough spot this week, and he won't be inside the top 25.

Patrick Cantlay Will Be the Low Amateur at T15, the Only to Make the Cut

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    While this may not seem bold in itself, remember the last person to best Cantlay head-to-head, Kelly Kraft, is present. Not to mention a few other names I've never heard of. 

    That being said, Cantlay is the only player in this field who has shown he knows what he is doing when he enters the big, bad world of professional golfers. 

    This week for amateurs belongs to Cantlay, who will rack up a top-15 finish at a major at Augusta.

    However, this will not sway Cantlay to declare pro. Cantlay will stick around at least until the end of this year at UCLA. He already burned a quarter of the pro season, why mainstream halfway through?

Tiger Woods Finishes Second

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    For some reason, everyone is picking Tiger Woods. It's almost like seeing him win once reminded everyone that that's where Tiger has spent about 25 percent of his career—in the winner's circle.

    However, Tiger still is a work in progress, and after that first round lead I mentioned earlier, he's gonna sit a little and going into the final round, will be a stroke or two off the lead. And we all know how Tiger does when he's behind in a major.

    He doesn't.

Steve Stricker Wins His First Major

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    Right now, Steve Stricker isn't exactly at the top of his game. He's been toward the upper-part of the leaderboard, but hasn't been relevant since the Tournament of Champions.

    However, Stricker is hungry for a major. And where better to win one than Augusta, Georgia?

    Stricker does not have a great history at Augusta, his best finish a T6. However, what was the last champion's history with Augusta? Tied-30th in the only year he played.

    At 45, Stricker isn't getting any younger, and without a major, it'd be difficult for Stricker to get much mention for anything other than being a great guy.