Welcome to the new season of Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Jonathan Wall take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @jonathanrwall. Today, we're talking Augusta and the potential for this year's Masters to be the best ever.
Busbee: Here we are, Masters week. The most wonderful week of the year for golf fans. I'm singing. You singing?
Wall: First off, let me get something out of my system. It's MASTERS WEEK!!!
Busbee: Amen. Anyway, this year comes with some extra-special juice to it, as it appears we may have that proverbial perfect storm now gathering. The golf world's four most notable players: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and world no. 1 Luke Donald are all playing strong golf, all coming off recent victories. Which makes us ask: Could this be the most anticipated Masters ever?
[Eric Adelson: Tiger Woods needs to win a major to prove he's 'back']
Wall: Seriously, there isn't a better week during the season than when the best players in the world gather at Augusta National. Getting back to reality, I do think this is the most anticipated Masters ever. We've seen some great ones over the years, including Tiger Woods going for the "Tiger Slam" in 2001, but this one just feels different. There's Tiger coming off his win at Augusta, Rory trying to rid himself of last year's collapse, and a host of other big names playing at an incredibly high level. Of course, all this talk about it being the most anticipated Masters ever means we'll most likely see a dark-horse winner.
Busbee: Here's where the whole recency/history bias starts to come into play. Last year, we were saying that the 2011 edition, with the possibility of a six-man playoff and Charl Schwartzel canning four birdies to close was one of the best Masters in recent, if not all, history. Now? Barely a peep about how that fits into the overall spectrum. On the other hand, you've got Tiger's first win, Jack in 1986, Arnie in 1960 … Do we revere the past at the expense of the present? Put more specifically, what do you think needs to happen this year to make 2012 one of those Pantheon Masters?
Wall: We'd normally say a big name coming from behind (Tiger, Phil and Rory come to mind) would make for an incredible story. But I think at this point the only way this tournament lives up to the hype and goes down as one of the greatest ever – the kind we'll be seeing clips of 50 years from now – is if we see a back nine duel between two of the best players in the game. That doesn't necessarily mean they have to be in the same group, but we need a Tiger vs. Rory head-to-head battle to to legitimize the hype. Major championship golf has been missing a classic Sunday duel, and I think, that's about the only way this goes down as one of the greatest ever. Wouldn't you agree?
Busbee: I would. I'd say that we need a three-man Tiger/Phil/Rory playoff, but that might be a bit much to ask for. But yes, I think a back-nine run where both players are able to hear the roar of the galleries as each one finishes out a hole ... that's what we need. We need the momentum (and the lead) to switch hands two or three times over those final nine holes, and we need it to come down to a dramatic long putt on 18. (Made, not missed.) That's not too much to request from the golf gods, is it? I think not. So who's your pick, and why?
Wall: You're making me put my money where my mouth is on Monday, huh? I like to waffle a bit and then flip a coin to make my final decision, but I'll change things up this year. I know this is probably going to be a trendy pick, but I'm taking Luke Donald. He finished T-4 last year at Augusta and produced some Magic on Sunday, and I think those good vibes will carry over to this year. I know we keep picking Donald and he keeps letting us down in big spots, but I finally think this is the year he breaks through with his first major. He has the accuracy and short game needed to win the Masters, and following his win at the Transitions, I think he's primed for a green jacket. Don't let me down, Luke! Alright, I've laid my cards on the table. Who are you taking?
Busbee: DAMMIT! I've gone on record with Donald, too, for many of the same reasons as you. But I do think Tiger and Rory will make it interesting. Something about Augusta seems to fire up Tiger in a way that no other course does, and Rory has a serious need to right some wrongs at the 10th hole this year.
So, there you have it. We both pick Luke Donald, and we reserve the right to change our picks right up until about 6 p.m. ET Sunday.
All right, your turn. Who's your pick, and what's your take heading into this year's Masters? Go!
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