Is 2013 the year of the Tiger?

It might be easy to forget that there is more than one golfer playing at the Masters this week.

While all the press and TV coverage will be focused on Tiger Woods trying to claim his fifth green jacket this weekend, it won’t be a cake walk as some are predicting. While Woods is a firm favourite with most bookmakers after his recent rise back to World No.1 for the first time since October 2010, there are still plenty of talented golfers clipping at his heels.

Past Masters champions Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Angel Cabrera, Charl Schwartzel and Zach Johnson will all be once again in contention to take home the prestigious green jacket.

While the newer crop of stars, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Brandt Snedeker and Keegan Bradley, will all be pushing for their chance at glory at the famous Augusta National.

And we cannot forget our Australian contingent of four, Adam Scott, Jason Day, John Senden and Marc Leishman, who will be looking to finally get an Australian victory at the Masters, a sporting event that has so far eluded the best Aussie golfers.

A rejuvenated Woods is the form man heading into the event having won three of five PGA events he has played this year. He looks at ease and relaxed, almost like a younger version of himself when he last won the Masters back in 2005, the last favourite to win the event. A fit, enthusiastic and in form Tiger Woods is going to be a huge threat this weekend.

Phil Mickelson, a three time Masters champion is always in contention when it comes to Augusta with a 3rd place finish in last years Masters. His win at the Phoenix Open in February and a 16th place finish at the Houston Open last month has him leading into this event in fine form.

Rory McIlroy’s recent second at the Texas Open has him eager to erase his memories of the 2011 Masters where he shot a final round 80 and blew a one shot lead going into the final nine holes of the tournament.

Of the four Aussies, it appears Adam Scott holds the best hope of breaking the Aussie curse at Augusta. This year he has had one top ten finish from the two tournaments he has played. His focus firmly of claiming his first major tournament, one he should have already had at The Open last year but we wont bring those bad memories up again.

But like every Masters event, and without me sounding too cliché here, expect the unexpected because the Masters is known for creating some of the most interesting finishes in golf. Look no further than last year when we witnessed a miracle from the trees.

Bubba Watson drove his ball deep into the trees on the second playoff hole against Louis Oosthuizen and looked in deep trouble (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVzetA-_Ax8). Hooking his approach shot almost 90 degrees onto the green, he was able to two putt for victory following his shot that will be remembered as one of the best seen.

Go back a couple more years to 2010 and we witnessed Phil Mickelson cream his second shot with a 6 iron 207 yards on the Par 5 13th (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh1ZVLuZdvE) from almost behind the tree off the pine straw to within four feet of the hole as he went on to victory that year.

And how can we forget the famous Tiger Woods chip in on the Par 3 16th back in 2005 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE5nxzSljCg) on his way to victory that year. He punched a chip onto the green and it ever so slowly trickled down into the hole, even having a moment to stop right on the edge of the cup adding to the drama of the shot.

There is something about this tournament that brings out the best in the sport. If you are only going to watch one day of golf for the year, do yourself a favour and set the alarm for 6am AEST Monday morning and witness the drama of the final day.

Will it be a successful comeback to form for Tiger Woods? Will we finally see an Australian wearing the green jacket? Can Phil Mickelson equal Woods on four Masters victories? Or can Rory McIlroy erase his past Augusta demons with a dominant victory?

For what its worth, my tip this year is Rory McIlory closely followed by Phil Mickelson.

Jackson Baker is a second year Bachelor of Journalism (Sport) student and a mad golf fan.

You can follow him on Twitter @JacksonBaker9 

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