"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

MASTERS TOURNAMENT SUNDAY: NO TIGER, NO PHIL, NO RICKY, BUT PLENTY OF DRAMA

Tiger Woods is nursing his surgically repaired back, Phil is practicing his putting and Ricky is probably hanging out, waiting for one of his buddies to do again what he has yet to do. Meanwhile, on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club, a few more players have hopes of winning the Masters  than did after Jordan Spieth walked off the sixteenth green holding an imposing four shot lead. A double bogey and a bogey on the last two holes, while still providing the defending champion with the lead, brought a lot of other scenarios into play. Fifty-eight year old two time champion Bernhard Langer, despite giving up to forty yards on his drives to his younger competitors, is lurking, ready to pounce if the nerves get to some of the kids, many of whom weren't even born when he last slipped on the green jacket in 1993. Dustin Johnson, who would probably be leading if he could have sunk a few very makeable putts, has the physical ability to overpower any course, and in particular this one. Jason Day, who has been playing under the radar since a triple-bogey six at Thursday's sixteenth hole, figures to be in the mix as well. But there's one guy down the leaderboard that despite never winning a major, has a solid game and has contended at the Masters before. Forty-two year old Lee Westwood, in the anticipated calm conditions, could make an early run and erase some of the four shot deficit before the last pairing tees off. If Speith struggles with his ball striking and his composure as he has the last couple of days, look for seasoned veterans like Westwood to contend. Of course, the second-ranked and probably best player in the game could just as easily put it all together and run away on the back nine today. Being paired with Smylie Kaufman, a tournament rookie, will most likely benefit Spieth, as the two go way back to their junior golf days, like five years ago.

If you look as far as six shots back, which realistically is probably a bit much to make up, the leaderboard is dotted with others who could make a run. Danny Willett is playing great and has quietly worked his way up to twelfth in the world rankings. Also at one-under par is Brandt Snedeker, a great putter who has a tendency to erupt with a great round now and then, as he did to win in San Diego earlier this year in horrendous conditions. Rory McIlroy, despite an awful, birdieless round yesterday, stands at two-over, just in front of major winner Justin Rose and past Masters champ Angel Cabrera at plus three. If you discount Kaufman, not just because of his inexperience but also the fact that just a single Masters rookie has prevailed, Spieth still has a couple of shots in hand over the closest realistic challenger. He's held the lead by himself now a record seven consecutive rounds, so momentum and recent success is clearly on his side. But should he slip, it could be one of the most interesting back nines at Augusta that we've seen in a long time. Just remember though that you heard it here first: Beware the Westwood.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.