with Robert Bicknell
Well, the 2013 Master's tournament should be entering the final round as this column goes to press and, at this stage of the game (Thursday morning), it's anyone's guess who will come out on top. If there is one thing that is certain at The Master's, it's that the tournament doesn't begin until the second nine on Sunday.
My personal feeling is that Tiger has an excellent chance to put on the green jacket again. He has confidence, experience a workable swing and a new girlfriend. So, he seems to be firing on all cylinders.
Rory McIlroy just doesn't seem to be ready to win the Master's in my opinion. Sure, he's a potential future superstar, but he's been going through some tough spots lately. Yes, he finished second in last week's tournament, but there were a noticeable absence of stone cold killers out there, the likes of which he will face at Augusta National. He will need to be very stingy with the amount of time he gives the media and spend more time focusing on the event. Not an easy thing to do when the white-hot spotlight is shining down.
Phil Mickelson is always a threat. Not just to win, but also to himself. Ya just never know what lefty is gonna do out there. Flashes of brilliance, punctuated with unexpected periods of utter stupidity. If he gets that "d-uh" look on his face, expect a hooked drive coming up. Another problem is that Mickelson doesn't seem "hungry" anymore. OK, except for Krispy Kreme doughnuts, that is.
Bubba Watson is unlikely to repeat simply because the amount of time he needs to spend with the media and officials. It will affect his focus and take the edge off his game. Still, he has the ability to do it again, but I just don't see it happening.
Augusta National also has the unnerving habit of finding champions that nobody expects. It's just that kind of tournament where somebody can get hot with the putter and break out of the pack. Yes, of course, they can slide back to obscurity twice as fast.
Someone asked me if it was true about the food at the Master's tournament and I assured him it is indeed true. You CAN get great food for ridiculously low prices. Augusta National is one of the only sporting venues where they don't try to get every last possible dollar out of you.
Simply put, they don't NEED the money. They have mountains of it. Instead, they want the patrons to have a memorable experience. One they can tell their friends about and make them turn five shades of green with envy. Maybe it's just "Southern Hospitality"in action.
One other thing that is certain – once you have visited Augusta National, you will never forget it and your home club will forever pale in comparison. It's an experience that simply cannot be duplicated by any other club anywhere on the planet.
Which is as it should be.
Last week, I received an email from a Vietnamese golfer asking about how to turn professional and when will Viet Nam form a PGA.
In truth, if a player wants to become "professional", they need to think long and hard about it. There are no professional events in Viet Nam, barring the occasional Asian PGA Tour swing through. A lack of events means a lack of money-making opportunities for playing professionals.
Turning pro also means you cannot compete and take prizes in your local club tournaments anymore, nor can you join the National Team for SEA Games or the upcoming Olympics.
Also, while there are one or two Vietnamese players who are trying to make it on the Asian Tour, they are still in the process of maturing into solid players. It takes time, deep pocket sponsors and a lot of high pressure competition rounds – something not available in Viet Nam.
The issue of when Viet Nam will have a PGA is another source of discussion. If the VGA (Viet Nam Golf Association) is having trouble getting into high gear, what does a PGA with a much more limited and exclusive membership have?
While the professionals in Viet Nam would like to see the formation of a PGA, we'd rather it be done correctly with proper training and testing curriculums in place.
This will take time. — VNS