Harrington tips Bubba for Green Jacket
Bright sunshine, temperatures of around 60 degrees and a cooling breeze greeted the early arrivals at Augusta National yesterday for the start of Masters week.
Along Washington Road the purveyors and providers of Masters tickets had set up their stands, offering to buy and sell the precious passports to this wonderful tournament.
Prices are up around $2,000 dollars for a one-day tournament entry, but as the week progresses the careful and the calculating may keep their power dry until the sellers need to offload the tickets and drop their prices.
A notice outside the entry gates to the club sternly warns that anyone selling within 2,700 feet of the entrance will incur the rigours of the law.
Meanwhile, inside the gates the main activity of the day was the national Drive, Chip, and Putt finals while players such as 2013 champion Adam Scott teed off for a practice round.
For the 80 boys and girls aged between seven and 15 who came through three qualifying stages to reach this final, this was the big time.
Live television coverage, their name and photo on the scoreboards and supportive ranks of patrons who applauded every shot made this a test of nerve for the youngsters, but they dealt with the pressure as to the manner born.
Prior to the event, the finalists had a surprise visit from Justin Rose, Niall Horan of One Direction and Justin Bieber. That's not too shabby, is it?
Meanwhile, with the Shell Houston Open in its final round, the serious discussion around possible winners this week awaits more consideration from today onwards, but Pádraig Harrington, who missed the cut in Houston, has some thoughts on the matter.
Harrington, who misses out on his 16th Masters appearance since his debut here in 2000, was asked who he fancied to win outside of the 'Big Three' of Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
"The problem you have, if it's a problem with golf now, is you might have five guys whose 'A' games are incredible and comparable to Tiger's 'A' game.
"I think Jordan's the only one who has an 'A' and a 'B' game, he's pretty special all the time.
"But if one of the big three doesn't win, how can you discount Bubba? How can you discount Adam Scott now?
"I'd go with Bubba definitely.
"When it comes to the Masters, Bubba has to be well within the company of those first three guys.
"Adam is playing physically great and obviously putting well, but I'd put him on the outside because of the greens.
"It's not a natural thing for him and Augusta requires a great week on the greens," said Harrington.
Looking at possible other contenders, Harrington referenced Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, although Johnson has still to prove he can get past the winning post in a Major championship.
"Mickelson is putting better and they're talking about his swing, but his putting stats are better, and that breeds a lot of confidence.
"Nobody is as comfortable as DJ is with that driver, it's just phenomenal. But therein lies the problem.
"He's not winning and dominating from where he's hitting his tee-shots. So that's a glaring issue," said Harrington.