One Red Flag for Each of World's Top 10 Players at Augusta
If a professional golfer sees his name in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings, he knows he’s doing a lot of things very well.
But all of them also know that there are skeletons in their closets that, should any of those show up, it can be a bad week on the course.
Here’s a list of red flag items for the 10 best in the world going into the Masters.
10. Matt Kuchar
Matt Kuchar has a win and three top-10 finishes this year, and he’s doing it with statistics that are not stunning.
He doesn’t lead in any statistical category, but he is sixth in scrambling.
And that’s one part of the game that is vitally important in the Masters.
The greens you miss will leave you with difficult and tricky chips and pitches off closely mown areas.
If you can’t execute those, scoring well is next to impossible.
9. Phil Mickelson
The PGA Tour’s tinkerer extraordinaire, Phil Mickelson, is always searching.
This week at Augusta, he won’t have a driver in his bag, instead opting for a souped-up 3-wood he feels gives him enough distance off the tee but, more importantly, gives him a better chance of keeping the ball on the competition side of the earth.
If this bit of gadgetry doesn’t work and he starts blocking, hooking and slicing tee shots into the Georgia pines, red flags will be up the pole quickly.
8. Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker is ranked eighth in the world and, while he’s playing very well in his reduced schedule, one constant remains: putting.
He’s 10th on tour in the strokes gained putting category and that’s what will make him a contender at Augusta National this week.
He’s short off the tee, averaging 274.2 yards,170th on tour.
But he’s 15th in driving accuracy and first in greens in regulation.
If he gets wayward, especially on the greens, he’ll be in big trouble.
7. Adam Scott
Everything that comes from Adam Scott’s mouth about his meltdown at the Open Championship last year is that he got over it quickly and feels he’ll benefit from that.
He’s played well in the rare appearances he’s made in 2013.
Ironically, he’s ranked 153rd on tour in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation at 54.88 and 62.96 percent, respectively.
If he performs to that level Thursday and Friday this week, we won’t see much of him Saturday and Sunday.
6. Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen shocked the world last year with the historic double eagle on the second hole on Sunday.
The second is a par five, which is one of Oosthuizen’s favorite kind of holes.
He’s birdied 50 percent of the par fives he’s played this year.
Because he’s only ranked 168th and 188th in par three and par four scoring, he’s put a lot of pressure on his par five scoring.
If he doesn’t take advantage of those holes, he’ll be in a tough spot very quickly.
5, Brandt Snedeker
For Brandt Snedeker, it’s pretty simple.
His rib muscle injury that derailed a fantastic start to his season is said to be nearly healed, but he hasn’t played well in the events he’s competed in since coming back from a break.
If the pain returns and his mind is not able to convince Snedeker he can play through it, he might try to overcompensate with adjustments to his swing.
And that would not be a good thing.
4. Luke Donald
Even though there is very little rough at Augusta, it’s still enough to cut down in the precision necessary to hit the proper spots on those greens.
Donald is a short hitter on the PGA Tour and depends on his short game and putting.
If he finds himself in the rough early and often this week, it could very well be a short Masters visit for him.
3. Justin Rose
Justin Rose is obviously a world-class player, winning $22 million in his career.
As an amateur in the 1998 Open Championship he played very well, capping it with a hole-out on the final hole to finish fourth.
At Augusta National, players have to take advantage of the par fives where birdies are plentiful and eagles are good possibilities.
Rose hasn’t done very well in that category in 2013, ranking 134th in par five performance.
If he doesn’t dominate those early, it will be a tough week for him.
2. Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy insists he’s 100 percent back from the malaise he’s been in since the beginning of the season and the debut of his new Nike equipment.
He certainly hasn’t shown he’s back, even though he played better in the final round last week at the Texas Valero Open.
Watch out if he starts wobbling just a bit.
You wouldn’t think a concern for him would be keeping his hands on the controls, but watch out if he plays a couple of bad holes in a row.
1. Tiger Woods
One of the biggest challenges Tiger Woods has faced since he began his journey back from his personal oblivion in 2009 has been the ability to control the distance of his shots once he’s gotten off the tee.
At times, he's been much better in that regard.
But those rockets still appear once in a while and will make things difficult for him if they show up here.
If his approach shots start air-mailing greens, the expectations he comes to Augusta with will not be realized.