Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez and selected his five players to watch in this week's Masters, the first major championship of the year:
“Rory's got to be rated the favourite. He will be going into the tournament full of confidence. He's really stepped up to the plate this year, although he'll still be stinging from the way he lost to Tiger Woods at the WGC-Match Play a couple of weeks ago. You don't expect Rory to take seven shots to get down when he's only got a nine-iron to the green! Generally, though, his form has been excellent and I don't think there's a course anywhere in the world that suits him as much as Augusta National does. It favours the long hitters and Rory belts the ball a mile off the tee.
This kid has started to show real promise over the last couple of years and he seems to enjoy playing among the elite in America. He put his name on the map by winning three times in Europe in 2018 and has continued to make people sit up and take notice this season. He looks to me like one of those players who could get inspired and have a run at it. He appears very comfortable in his own skin and has a steady all-round game. He is a confident sort who seems to expect a lot from himself and I reckon he could push himself into contention.
His course strategy is still one of the best in the world. Unfortunately, though, his long game can let him down. For example, he's nowhere near as good as Rory or world number one Dustin Johnson off the tee. Tiger's driving is his Achilles heel and that might be his undoing this week. He is still a great iron player, he has a wonderful short game, but he's erratic off the tee. That is certainly where he is suspect. But he has a special affinity for Augusta having won there four times before and I would never rule him out, even though his most recent victory there was way back in 2005.
I like the look of Woodland. He's had a really good season so far and drives the ball so well. He's long off the tee too and if you can make good inroads on the par-fives at Augusta, it can push you on for a fantastic week. It is such an advantage to be long and consistent off the tee there because it sets up the whole course for you. Such a lot can depend on making a solid first-round score in the majors and if Gary can do that, it will lift him for the rest of the tournament. Getting in the top six or so gets the best players engaged in the event and that is often the recipe for success at the majors.
In horse-racing parlance, Augusta is one of those layouts where you tend to go for those guys who have gone the course and distance before. Few golfers have played better there than Jordan in recent years and you have to give him a chance. We've seen glimmers of the old Jordan lately as he has tried to shake off the negative bits of his game. He's had a few shockers and suffers from double-bogeyitis from time to time when he gets in good positions, but deep down he must know he is a very capable player. Someone like him, if he gets off to a good start, it will be a real confidence-booster.”