Masters Confidential: Debating the big Augusta talking-points

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No tournament provides as many storylines and talking points as the Masters.

This year is no exception, with the seven-month delay due to COVID-19 having only served to intensify excitement and buzz surrounding what is, traditionally, the first men's major of the season.

With so much to ponder, the bunkered team all hopped on a Zoom call and chatted about what we expect to see happen in this unique Masters - and what we would do at Augusta given the opportunity.

Who's who?

BR - Bryce Ritchie; MM - Michael McEwan; DC - David Cunninghame; RC - Ryan Crombie; CA - Cameron Adam

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Who’s your pick to win?

DC: It’s Rahmbo’s time. His form over the last 12 months has been ridiculously good and he’s finished inside the top-10 on his last two trips to Augusta. Stick a tenner on the Spaniard.     

CA: My pick usually misses the cut or barely scrapes through to the weekend so apologies in advance to Brooks Koepka.      

BR: I’m actually going with Tiger. He’ll probably deal with the pressure better than anyone else.      

RC: Xander Schauffele. His consistency in the majors is astounding. He will go one better than his T2 at Augusta last year. Trust me.

MM: This is it. This is the year. Rory McIlroy will win the Masters, slip into a Green Jacket and stick two fingers up to all those who preposterously claim he “has no bottle”.    

Who’s your outsider?

RC: Hideki Matsuyama. Made the cut five years in a row and, although his finishes at Augusta are trending in the wrong direction, I feel he will be there or thereabouts come Sunday.   

BR: Matt Fitzpatrick is on the verge of a massive win. He’s still young at 26 and his Masters record is decent.       

CA: Louis Oosthuizen. He’s played some solid golf so far in 2020 and he usually puts in a good performance at Augusta.      

MM: Maybe not a ‘rank outsider’ but Scottie Scheffler has been so impressive this year. Yes, it’s his debut but somebody has to end that ‘rookie hoodoo’. Why not him?

DC: Although it’s his first Masters, I fancy an each-way punt on Matt Wolff. He has all the attributes to succeed at Augusta and plays with no fear. 

Tiger Woods The Masters

Who’s your first round leader?

MM: Matt Wallace. He’s kind of the British Patrick Reed, isn’t he? Not particularly popular, doesn’t particularly care, unbelievably talented.

DC: Lefty. He loves knocking it around Augusta.      

RC: Cameron Champ. A solid performance at the US PGA has given me confidence in him. It’ll be an Augusta debut for the 25-year-old, so he will have no scar tissue from previous years to worry about.

CA: Kevin Kisner. He’s played four Masters and made the cut every time. He’s also a tremendous competitor.

BR: I’m liking Patrick Reed. That should annoy just about everybody and kick the toonamint off nicely. 

What are you expecting from Tiger?

BR: Well, I’ve picked him to win, so…      

MM: A back-door top-ten. He’ll do what he typically does at Augusta – beat most of the field – but do so without ever really challenging.

DC: I’m not holding out much hope of a repeat of last year. Top-25 at best.  I hope I’m wrong.

RC: A steady performance. It would be remiss of me to suggest he can’t repeat last year’s feat - of course he can, it’s Tiger - but I feel it will be someone else’s turn this year.

CA: I expect Tiger to play well at any tournament but I’m constantly waiting for him to hit the ground clutching his back after every swing.  This Masters will be no different.

What are you expecting from Rory?

MM: A long-awaited stride into golfing immortality.      

DC: A lacklustre opening two rounds, followed by promising signs on Saturday and then a charge on Sunday without ever really being in contention for the win.

CA: If he is driving the ball well and he gets the putter going, there’s no doubt he will be up there on Sunday. It all depends if he can keep the nerves at bay.    

BR: Honestly? I’m not sure. He won’t admit it but he’s under huge pressure and I think that tends to hit him harder than he would like. A steady week. 

RC: Close but no cigar. There’s no doubt the pressure seems to affect Rory at the majors now. That doesn’t mean he won’t play well but, when it comes to getting over the line, I can’t see it.                

What’s your budget for the merch store?

RC: Let’s just say, I’ll even be scraping the coppers together.      

CA: I would put enough money aside to buy a caddie’s boiler suit. As a fair- skinned ginger lad, it might come in handy for those scorching days we almost never get in Scotland.

MM: Put it this way: I spent more on merch last year than I did on my flights and accommodation combined. God bless Mastercard!

BR: A lot, because I have history. The first year I attended, I spent over £1,000. Even bought a dog bowl and I don’t have a dog (the cat uses it). I could live in there.

DC: I would go over my $400 budget by a truly sickening amount. I reckon I’d shell out at least 50 bucks on my cat alone. I’d worry about buying food for the rest of the month at a later date.

Augusta National 13Th

What hole would you easily birdie?

DC: No.13. Block the drive into the trees, hit a Mickelson style 6-iron through the gap to three feet and then two-putt. No chance I’m one-putting anything at Augusta.         

BR: I like my chances at 2. Munter one over the bunker, then thin one down by the green. Chip on, hole out, birdie.    

RC: I can count the number of birdies I’ve ever had on one hand, so I’m not going to sit here and say I’d do so at Augusta National! I’d be confident of a par at the second.                      

CA: I can’t easily birdie any hole but I fancy a go at 16 with the Sunday pin tucked away on the left-hand side. Everything seems to feed down to the hole, which is my kinda green.

MM: The 19th. Pretty sure I wouldn’t do better than double on any of the others.        

Where does the Masters rank in your list of favourite majors?

RC: Easily No.1. It has that magical aura surrounding the whole tournament that just isn’t recreated anywhere else. This year it’ll be even more engrossing. A Masters in autumn - what’s not to love?

CA: It’s No.1. The course looks incredible and I would love any excuse to wear a green jacket.  

DC: It depends. It’s No.1 unless you were to offer me an Open win at St Andrews. Nothing can top that.

MM: First, comfortably. The Open has all the history but the Masters is infinitely more interesting, particularly the prospect of seeing Augusta in the ‘Fall’ this year.

BR: No.1 – but the Open is more ‘important’. It’s the one you should win, but the Masters is the one you want to win.

What would you serve at the Champions Dinner?

MM: Being from Orkney, it would have to be a pattie supper. It’s basically mashed potato mixed with beef and onion, seasoned, deep fried and served with chips. Heavenly.  

RC: Is there anything greater than Italian food? I’d be flying in the best chef from Naples and everyone would be enjoying a spicy Diavola.

BR: My signature Chilli Garlic Chicken. Extra spicy so that my opponents spend the last day of practice in the toilet.                

DC: Cullen skink, filet mignon and, of course, sticky toffee pudding.

CA: A selfish choice on my part… steak pie and chips.      

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