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Snedeker, Cabrera lead talented Masters leaderboard with 18 holes to play

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Snedeker, Cabrera lead talented Masters leaderboard with 18 holes to play

Posted on 14 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

A host of players seeking their place in championship golf will battle it out today at Augusta, while a couple of former champions will once again try to prove that experience, above everything else, counts most at the Masters.

Angel Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker will play in the final group on Sunday, both sitting at -7 for the tournament.  Cabrera already owns one green jacket – and a U.S. Open title – and is a perennial contender here with his bombing drives and soft touch around the greens.  Snedeker is enjoying a terrific two year run that has garnered lots of “best American player” discussion.

Either of those men could win on Sunday and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  In fact, if I had a dollar to wager this morning and could get decent enough odds, I’d take Snedeker to win the tournament.  He’s ready.

Oddly enough, an Australian has never won the Masters.  Today, three Aussies have a shot at winning the title.  Adam Scott (-6), Marc Leishman (-5) and Jason Day (-5) are all one great round away from capturing their first major championship.  Of the three, Scott seems the most likely to break through.  He’s played well at Augusta over the last two years, had a chance to win in 2011 before Charl Schwartzel’s back nine birdie barrage, and coughed up the British Open last July when the trophy was sitting there waiting for him.  If any player in the top 10 “deserves” to win his first major title, it’s Scott.  Day and Leishman are both still in the hunt, but neither has the pedigree of Adam Scott.

Matt Kuchar put together a solid third round of 69 and is just three back at 4-under par.  Like Snedeker, all that’s missing from Kuchar’s resume is a major title and this could be the year he gets it.  A Sunday round of 66 or 67 could be enough for the likeable Georgia Tech grad.

Tiger Woods told reporters after Saturday’s round of 70 “I’m still in the ballgame” and, at 3-under par, he certainly is.  Woods is still in the tournament thanks to a friendly ruling on Sunday morning, and if he goes on to somehow win the event today, he’ll have to battle years of asterisk-discussion when folks bring up the 2013 Masters.  His Saturday play was decent enough, with three nice par-saves down the stretch helping him put together his second sub-par round of the event.  Tiger’s back-nine play was encouraging on Saturday, as he shot 34 on the inward nine, something he hasn’t done often over the last few years.  For TW to win major #15 on Sunday, he’ll need at least 66 on his card at day’s end.

Tim Clark is also at -3 and lurking, although there’s nothing in his biography that indicates he’ll produce a second consecutive round of 67 and move into contention on Sunday.  He’s a nice player and all, but suggesting he can work his way through the pack on Sunday and win a major title is just a tad too ambitious.

It sets up for a great Sunday of Masters theater.  You have the on-going Woods controversy, a couple of Americans in Snedeker and Kuchar, and three Australians looking to end a country’s frustration with the greatest golf tournament in the world.

 

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Love III connects with his four Ryder Cup picks

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Love III connects with his four Ryder Cup picks

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III added experience, length and birdie potential on Tuesday by announcing his four selections for this month’s bi-annual competition between the U.S. and Europe.

As expected, Love III went with established veterans Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk with two of his four captain’s picks.  Both are experienced in Ryder Cup and President’s Cup play and each player has successfully partnered with Tiger Woods on several occasions.

Dustin Johnson played his way on to the team with outstanding play over the last month.  After missing nearly three months earlier in the season due to injury, Johnson recovered in time to impress Love III with his health and his putting.  Johnson, one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR, is also one of the circuit’s best birdie-makers when his putter is on.

Brandt Snedeker, like Johnson, also played his way on after challenging at the British Open and following that with strong play in the month thereafter.  He’s also a player capable of making birdies in bunches, which bodes well in a team-event like the Ryder Cup where pars generally don’t do you much good.

All four picks seem reasonable to me.  While Stricker and Furyk make complete sense, it’s not like they have to prop up Tiger Woods anymore.  In year’s past, Woods needed a partner who could put the ball in play off the tee in both the better-ball and alternate-shot formats, but that’s not the case now.  The Great One has flirted with the top 5 in the TOUR’s “total driving” stat all year (the combination of where you rank in driving distance and driving accuracy) and is swinging the golf club as well as he ever has heading into next week’s BMW Championship in Indiana.  His putter?  That’s a different story.  But for once, Woods won’t be a liability off the tee in the Ryder Cup.

Johnson and Snedeker come in with the hot hand, assuming their current form continues for another three weeks.  The only player I hoped might make it that didn’t was Bo Van Pelt.  He finished 17th in the standings, but he’s a birdie machine and would probably give his left arm to make the team.

It’s hard to find fault with the captain’s picks.  They feature a major champion (Furyk) and three other players who have all sniffed around at majors throughout their careers.  And, as most players will tell you, the Ryder Cup produces as much angst and nervous tension as a major championship.

 

 

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