Each year we build up the prospects of seeing an Australian golfer win the US Masters. However, in the 62 occasions the green jacket has been awarded, no Australian golfer has ever tried it on.
Greg Norman seemed to be sized and fitted for the jacket in 1996 but most of us would rather not remember it. Norman of course went close to winning on numerous occasions finishing in the top-5 on eight times including runner-up in 1986, 1987 and 1996.
There have also been a number of other Australians who had to settle for second place at the US Masters. Jack Newton finished four shots behind Seve Ballesteros in 1980, Bruce Crampton finished three shots behind Jack Nicklaus in 1972, and Jim Ferrier shot a final round 75 to finish second in 1950.
Will it be any different this year?
It has become almost painful to see any Australian in contention, let alone miss out on winning. The weight of past failures has sunken many couches in lounge rooms across the country. With a hint of cynicism after years of early morning torture
, let’s take a look at Australia’s six hopes for the 2011 US Masters
It is surprising that Robert Allenby has never done better here. In eleven starts he’s made the cut seven times but never finished higher than 22nd. Given we’re continually told Allenby is one of the game’s great ball strikers (does this mean many pro’s aren’t?) why hasn’t he done better when long iron approaches are a must at Augusta? It must be the flat stick, and with so many previous demons to fight it doesn’t bode well.
Appleby missed his first US Masters last year since he debuted in 1997 and must be chomping at the bit to get back to Augusta National. He led the tournament after three rounds in 2007 but faltered on the final day to finish 5th behind winner Zach Johnson. He knows the course extremely well and given a good first round could contend. But has he got the mettle to get over the line?
Most people think Augusta National is golfing heaven but Badds tweeted he wanted to know what it looks like in heaven. He is playing some good golf right now and has more confidence on the greens than any other Aussie. His win at the Northern Trust Open a month ago was a perfect build-up. He is possibly our best chance to win it.
This will be Jason Day’s first appearance at the US Masters and for this reason I doubt he can win the green jacket. He is doing some homework at Augusta though asking Nick Faldo for advice during the week. This course does seem to swallow up most golfers who haven’t seen it before, either due to course difficulty or the mystique associated with Augusta National. Day is one of our great young hopes right now, but a US Masters victory may be too much to ask.
The finger injury in Hawaii this year really did mess up his plans for the season. It has been really difficult to tell where Ogilvy’s golf game is at right now but he often floats beneath the radar before coming into contention. In the five stroke play tournaments he has entered this year he has one missed cut, one top-10, two top-25s and two top-50s. It is hardly amazing form but he knows the course well enough by now to at least improve on his 2009 tie for 15th.
With broomstick putter in hand, Adam Scott heads to Augusta a little more confident on the greens than in past years. To his credit, he has always been competitive at the US Masters but has never really threatened with his best finish coming in 2002 in a tie for 9th. Angel Cabrera and Vijay Singh both won with longer than standard putters. Maybe Scotty can too.