Jim Furyk’s steady play makes him a good person to wager on to wear this year’s green jacket. *AFP photo
Jim Furyk’s steady play makes him a good person to wager on to wear this year’s green jacket. *AFP photo

FRIDAY, MAR. 23: I am going to make my 2012 Masters Predictions as it is the first major tournament of the year.

Last year, the man of the hour ended up being Charl Schwartzel (Who was one of my four picks — sadly I did not put my money where my mouth was.)

Schwartzel more or less came out of nowhere to be able to win this event last year, and he is going to be full of confidence coming into this year’s first major as well.

That was the first and only win of the year on the PGA Tour for the South African, but it wasn’t nearly his only solid finish.

Schwartzel posted 10 Top 25 finishes, including three Top 10s in his 16 events last year, and he is sure to be a force to be reckoned with once again this year at the Masters.

Considering how far back Schwartzel really was to the lead going into the last round of the Masters last year, there has to be a man that is going to come back to Augusta this year knowing that he missed a huge opportunity.

That man is Rory McIlroy (Odds to Win Masters: 4.50 to 1). Last year ended up being a banner year for McIlroy as he won the US Open and finished in the Top 25 of three of the four majors on the campaign. He had a huge lead going into Sunday at Augusta though, and thanks to an absolutely disastrous 80 on the final day, the worst round that he shot all year in 2011, and after choking away that huge lead he still only finished at -4 for the tournament.

That being said, McIlroy still is going to be a man that you do not want to ignore when it comes time to bet on the Masters.

But of course, if there is an event that he is playing in, the man of the hour is going to be Tiger Woods. Eventually at some point, Tiger is going to get his putter back and his nerves back, and when he does, he is going to be one of the most dangerous golfers on the PGA Tour.

Of course, though, until we see that out of him, there is no way that we could reasonably back him at Masters with the same odds as Rory.

Tiger still hasn’t looked like the old Tiger since his personal life fell apart, and though I do think that he will get it back at some point, the way that he has putted this year, especially in those short putts that he used to be able to drain in his sleep, just hasn’t given us the confidence to want to back him.

On the flip side though, the other major favourite to win the Masters Phil Mickelson is one that could be worth backing.

Lefty already has a win this year to his credit at Pebble Beach, and he finished second at the Northern Trust Open the very next week, and he is going to come into this tournament full of confidence. Mickelson already has his green jackets to his credit, and he knows what it takes to win here at Augusta. He didn’t play all that well last year, finishing in 27th at just -1, and it was rare from the standpoint that he had four rounds in the 70s.

Mickelson could turn around and shoot three or four rounds in the 60s this year though, and knowing that, he is a man that you might want to wager on for the Masters.

So my three picks each way bets are Jim Furyk (Mr Steady), Keegan Bradley (Long, straight and a good putter), and Sergio Garcia (he is playing the best golf of his career), but this year I am going to put my money where my mouth is.

It will be interesting to see who is playing well this week at the Arnold Palmer, but this is not going to be a good indicator of form for the Masters.

Paul Adams is the PGA director of golf at Rosewood Tucker’s Point.