- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007


Handicapping the 10 players given the shortest odds at this week’s 71st Masters, which begins today at Augusta National (par 72, 7,445 yards). Official odds provided by William Hill of London:


Even for Tiger, these are impossibly prohibitive odds, suggesting he has as good a chance to win this week as the rest of the field combined. With two victories in three stroke-play starts this season and two straight Slam conquests, perhaps he does. If he simply putts well, not remarkably, it’s fait accompli.


Will this be the week we finally get our Tiger vs. Lefty major duel? Two-driver Phil has eight straight top 10s at Augusta National, a couple of green jackets in his closet and says he has fully recovered from his Winged Foot fiasco. Nothing would be more fun than watching Tiger impale Lefty on a Sunday skewer.


Beware the 44-year-old Fijian, who leads the FedEx Cup standings with two victories this season and won the last Masters defined by unseasonably cool temperatures and breezy conditions in 2000.

ERNIE ELS (16-1)

The oddsmakers must have seen something most haven’t from the soft South African. Els’ constitution hasn’t been the same since he suffered the back-to-back-to-back humblings of 2004, when he faltered from the 54-hole pole in consecutive majors to Mickelson, Shinnecock Hills and unknown Todd Hamilton.


Nobody wins at Augusta National without first contending at another major. The Swede made a pre-weekend rumble at the PGA last year, but he’s far too raw to sneak up on this slam.


Don’t think the Aussie is a one-hit wonder. Mickelson and Monty might have given him last year’s U.S. Open, but Ogilvy has six straight top-16 finishes in the majors, and he’s one of the few men in the game not intimidated by Tiger.


Goose is still one of the planet’s best putters, but he has been a disaster with his irons this season, ranking 185th on tour in greens in regulation (56.02 percent).


A tantalizing possibility, given his victory at last week’s Houston Open and his marvelous ball-striking. Scott’s suspect short game always has held him back in majors, but the 26-year-old Aussie looks primed for Slam success.


Call when he’s ready to make a 10-foot putt.


The best player at last year’s Ryder Cup, the 29-year-old Brit hits it a ton and is sneaky good with the blade. Think John Daly sans baggage and cellulose. Casey finished tied for sixth in 2004, and he’s of more interest than any of the other young players.

Barker Davis

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