Rory McIlroy is looking to add a third major title to his resume.

You have heard the prognosticators drone on and on about the favorites to win the 2014 Masters. Perhaps 20-25 men, in the field this week at Augusta National, have a realistic chance to win the tournament.

The other side of the equation is there are several in the field this week that do not.

History has shown that first time participants in the Masters do not normally win. Harris English, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Kevin Stadler, and Jimmy Walker all have PGA Tour wins, but are playing in their first Masters.

English from the University of Georgia and Reed from Augusta State are both familiar with Augusta National having played it on numerous occasions while in college. Stadler’s father was the Masters champion in 1982, but Kevin was only two years old at the time.

A Masters record, 18 professionals plus six amateurs will be playing for the first time this week. If history can be used to predict future results, these are 24 names that can be deducted from the field of 97 of possible winners this week.

Of the remaining 73 professional golfers, 25-28 are battling injury or their game is just not in the proper place right now to be a factor in the tournament. That leaves only approximately 45 golfers that have any chance to win this week.

If rookies have a disadvantage, veterans should have an advantage over the bulk of the field. Past champions have already experienced the intense pressure of the final round and may have a slight advantage.

There are 19 past champions in the field of the 2014 Masters. Ten of whom are over the age of 50, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Watson, Larry Mize, Sandy Lyle, Mark O’Meara, Ian Woosnam, Vijay Singh and Craig Stadler. Of this group possibly Fred Couples or Bernhard Langer have a remote chance of finding the leaderboard on Sunday.

Miguel Angel Jimenez is another player over the age of 50, who qualified for the tournament, but will find it difficult to score on Augusta National. In 14 previous Masters’ appearances he only has three top-10 finishes and none in the past five years.

Major championships are simply not won by men over the age of 50.

Subtract another nine players from the 45 veterans and 36 possible winners remain.

Another fact is that very few players win the Masters after the age of 40. Jack Nicklaus and a couple others are the exception to this rule, but probably only 44-year-old Phil Mickelson and 2009 Masters Champion, Angel Cabrera, who is now also 44 years old, have a chance to win this year.

Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Mike Weir, Steve Stricker and Jose Maria Olazabal are all over the age of 40.

Although Clarke and Els have won Open Championships while in their 40’s, one would not expect that to happen at Augusta this week.

Westwood and Stricker both have a hole in their impressive resumes and would love to win at least one major championship, before they put away their clubs.

Els has won two U.S. Opens and two Open Championships, but is still looking for the elusive green jacket.

Fitness plays a role at Augusta National. It is extremely hilly and a very tough walk. For older players just traversing the grounds for four days takes a toll on feet, ankles, legs and backs.

Of the nine 40-somethings, possibly two have a real shot of winning. Subtract another seven from 36 and you are left with 29 golfers that have a reasonable chance of donning the green jacket on Sunday evening.

Justin Rose, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan have been dealing with nagging injuries throughout the early part of 2014. The question becomes are they healthy enough to compete this week?

Dustin Johnson has been playing well and is a favorite this year at Augusta.

Long hitters like, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, may have an advantage this year because of the trees that were lost to the ice storms that hit the south late in the winter.

Few defending champions have succeeded wining in consecutive years, Scott will try to join that exclusive club. McIlroy struggled last year, but has shown signs of returning to form this year. Johnson has been very close on three other occasions to winning a major championship and Watson won here in 2012.

Driving lanes and landing areas have been essentially widened which will allow these bombers to exploit their huge advantage off the tee box.

If the course returns to the firm, fast conditions that are expected former winners Zach Johnson, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen may have an advantage due to their knowledge and experience.

A firm golf course could also help short-game gurus, Luke Donald and Brandt Snedeker get their first major win.

The other major championships, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship all have 144-man fields and require a stringent qualification process to gain entry. The players performing the best at the moment are in the field and there are a larger number of players to beat.

Once you subtract all of the non-contenders from the field in the 2014 Masters only a handful of participants have a realistic chance to win.

That is the reason we see the big names at the top of the leaderboard every year on Sunday afternoon as the leaders make the turn and head to the back nine.

Augusta National offers a perfect setting for a major championship. Its history and traditions are unquestioned, but it is the easiest major championship to win.

 

 

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Esteban Toledo has found success on the Champions Tour.

I had the opportunity to play a round of golf with two Champions Tour professionals in two separate pro-am events at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic last week. They were a joy to meet and both truly enjoy the game of golf.

Esteban Toledo and Mike Goodes have been given second chances in professional golf and both are excited for the opportunity.

Toledo grew up as the youngest of 11 children in Mexicali, Mexico. The family home had dirt floors and no plumbing. He learned the game of golf like so many before him by caddying at a nearby golf course and scrounged for golf balls from a pond.

He became a boxer and amassed a 16-1 record over four years. Appendicitis ended his boxing career and he turned to golf.

In nine years on the PGA Tour, Toledo never hoisted a trophy, but earned over $5 million. He did have one win on the Web.com Tour (Nationwide Tour) at the 2005 Lake Erie Charity Classic.

He turned 50 in September of 2012 and became a rookie on the 2013 Champions Tour. Wins at the Insperity Championship in May and at the Montreal Championship in September earned him $1.2 million for the year and he finished No. 13 in the Charles Schwab Cup rankings.

As a youngster, Mike Goodes had a successful amateur career in North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina. Golf was not a priority and extracurricular activities became more important than hitting the range or practice green.

He didn’t become eligible for the Champions Tour until December, 2006 and decided to turn professional the next year. He is one of just a few players that have found success on the Champions Tour without first competing on the PGA Tour. He finished fifth at the 2007 Champions Tour Q-School and has been a fixture on tour since.

Mike Goodes is one of the most consistent players on the Champions Tour.

Goodes has entered 154 events on the Champions Tour, has one win, 25 top-10 finishes and has earned nearly $3.8 million. He finished No. 25 on the 2013 Champions Tour money list earning $678,000.

Making it to the professional ranks at a later age in life has given Goodes a stronger appreciation for the game and he is enjoying every day on the Champions Tour.

In an effort to give back, Toledo has established a foundation that provides assistance to children in his hometown. The Esteban Toledo Family Foundation currently provides the basic necessities of food, clothing, housing and education to 40 children in Mexicali, Mexico. He is happy with the results thus far, but is looking to expand those numbers.

Toledo and Goodes are examples of the dedication and hard work necessary to make it to the top of professional golf.

Both understand the love the average amateur golfer has for the game and have not forgotten where they came from to reach their dream of playing on one of golf’s biggest stages.

I have had the opportunity to meet some of the world’s best people through my golf travels. Esteban Toledo and Mike Goodes are both at the top of the list.

 

 

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Ted Bishop and the PGA Have Improved the 3 Courses at PGA Village

March 12, 2014

When Ted Bishop became the president of the PGA of America one of the first items on his agenda was to hire Tom Watson as the Ryder Cup Captain for the U.S. Team. After that minor decision was settled, he next explored ways to restore PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida as a first-class [...]

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Champions Tour Adds Par-3 Course for Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf

March 5, 2014

The Champions Tour announced the Legends of Golf tournament, which started the concept of senior tour professional golf, will use a par-3 course for competition this year. The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf began in 1978, when Jimmy Demaret and Fred Raphael invited a few old golf professional buddies to a small tournament in Austin, [...]

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Golf Tip: Improve Your Mental Game

February 27, 2014

Tommy Richardson has coached athletes for over 30 years. He learned early in his coaching career the importance of a positive mental approach to whatever sport an athlete was attempting to play. Here is a guest article from Coach Tom about the importance of a proper mental approach to golf. Creating a Golf Mindset How [...]

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Victor Dubuisson Amazes Golf Fans at the WGC-Accenture Match Play

February 24, 2014

Captain Paul McGinley’s European Ryder Cup team added another great young player to his already strong roster. With his runner-up finish at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson announced himself as a serious match play specialist. The Europeans have had the Amercians number in recent years, winning seven of the last nine Ryder Cups. [...]

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LPGA Tour’s Big Names in Thailand

February 20, 2014

All 10 of the Top 10 players in the Rolex Rankings and 17 of the Top 20 are in the field this week for the Honda LPGA Thailand. World No. 1 Inbee Park is the defending champion and will be making her first start of the season at the Siam Golf Club just outside of [...]

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Tom Watson Goes “Old School” For 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Team

February 14, 2014

  Even though the 2014 Ryder Cup will not be contested until the third week of September, it attracts media attention year round.   Captain Tom Watson announced earlier in the week that Raymond Floyd would join the team as an assistant captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup squad. Floyd’s last appearance in a Ryder [...]

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Cheyenne (Not Tiger) Woods Wins Australian Ladies Masters

February 9, 2014

Tiger Woods’ niece, Cheyenne Woods won the Ladies European Tour (LET) sanctioned Volvik RACV Australian Ladies Masters held at Royal Pines Resort in Queensland on Sunday. It was her first win as a professional. Ms. Woods was first taught the game by her grandfather, Earl Woods. Her father is a half-brother to her famous uncle [...]

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Back 9 Network Releases Inspirational New Video

February 7, 2014

The Back 9 Network is a golf lifestyle and news channel that will be coming to your television in the near future. They are in final negotiations with cable providers and expect to be operational later this year. In preparation for their cable roll out, they have created original video content and broadcast through their [...]

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