By Matt Barrett ‘17 and Brian O’Neill ‘16
This Sunday, the two biggest names in golf, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, will be looking earn a career Grand Slam and bounce back from injury. Who will be given the green jacket this Sunday evening?
M.B: Vegas favors youngsters Rory McIlroy and Jordan Speith. Even though both of their experience outweighs their ages, I’m going with a seasoned veteran to win the green jacket this year: Jimmy Walker.
A ten-year PGA Tour veteran, Walker is still looking for his first career major. Finishing eighth last season at Augusta, it was his first appearance in the Masters. Walker has all of the intangibles to score well at Augusta National, most notably his putting. Augusta is a course that demands players to role the flat stick, and Walker can do just that, ranking ninth on tour in total putting.
Another thing that sets Walker apart from most is that he bleeds consistency. He has already won twice on the PGA Tour this season, at the Texas Open and Sony Open. Walker also claimed two more top ten finishes at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Farmers Insurance open.
Walker’s consistency and putting will be enough to give him his first major championship victory.
M.K: To be able to earn the green jacket at Augusta, one needs to carry a big stick in their bag. With a length of 7,435 yards, Augusta National Golf Club is roughly 200 yards longer than the average PGA Tour golf course. Past victors at the Masters include Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel.
The common denominator between them is that they each can drive the golf ball. The only recent anomaly is Zach Johnson, who won in 2007 due to harsh weather conditions that favored players with a good short game. Assuming that it will be a dry weekend, I fully expect someone who can pipe the ball to win this year’s Masters.
With Jordan Speith as the favorite this weekend, I still don’t see him having enough poise to win at Augusta quite yet. Despite his world golf ranking [fourth], let’s not look past the fact that he’s only won on the PGA Tour twice. Spieth always finds a way to the top part of the leaderboard, but he still lacks the clutch gene needed to win a big tournament.
My favorite this year is Jason Day. The heavy hitting Aussie has played in the Masters four times—experience should not be of issue. In those four events, Day finished in the top three twice. Also, in the past four U.S. Opens, Day has finished in the top four three times. He’s certainly shown that he can compete on the big stage, which is why it is just a matter of time before he finally notches a win at Augusta. Come 7 p.m. on Sunday, I predict the leaderboard to have some combination of Jordan Speith, Bubba Watson and Day, with Day finishing on top and finally getting to put on the coveted green jacket.
With Opening Day this past Monday, the MLB season has begun. With this off season’s hot stove being one of the most memorable in recent years, many teams strongly improved their chances of winning the World Series. Who will square off for title in October?
M.B: Come October, I expect to see a battle between two big market teams, the Chicago White Sox against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The White Sox will welcome starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija to the rotation this year, boating just a 2.99 ERA a year ago. When Sale returns form injury and rejoins Samardzija, the Sox will boast one of the strongest rotations in baseball. Melky Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez and reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu, fuel their offense. They play in arguably the most competitive division in baseball [Al Central], but the White Sox’s star power will push them past the Royals and Tigers into the playoffs.
The White Sox would have to face the Dodgers for the championship, another team that boasts a stellar starting potation. It is comprised of Brandon McCarthy, Zach Greinke, and 2014 NL MVP Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw will come off of a 2014 season where he threw for 21 wins and a 1.77 ERA. The Dodgers’ pitching will have much run support from an experienced cast of batters. Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez are a just a few names that showcase the star power of the team. Second year player Joc Pederson improves the team’s outfield defensively, too.
Both teams are evenly balanced, but I think that the Dodgers rotation will prevail in the end. I also question if the White Sox will have enough run support for Sale and Samardzija. In the fall, look for Los Angeles to win their first title since 1988.
M.K: Unlike the past few seasons, where small market teams have had great success in the regular season, I expect this year to be quite the opposite. My World Series prediction is the Washington Nationals against the Detroit Tigers, with the Nationals winning.
With the signing of former Tiger pitcher, Max Scherzer, the Nationals now boast arguably the best rotation in baseball as he joins Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister. Although the Nationals are built around their pitching, they also have a strong lineup. In addition to having one of the best outfields in the National League consisting of Denard Span, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, they also have a few good bats in the infield, with Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond. After finishing with 96 wins last year, expect them to surpass that mark and reach triple digit wins this year.
Another team who had success last year, the Detroit Tigers, finished their 2014 campaign with 90 wins and an early exit in the playoffs. The Tigers are built a little differently than the Nationals.
With the best hitter in the game on their team, Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers rely a lot on their bats to carry them. A lineup that also features Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, and the newly acquired Yoenis Cespedes is bound to strike fear in opposing pitchers’ eyes. The Tigers also made a big splash in the offseason, acquiring David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays. Price fills the hole left open from Scherzer’s departure and immediately becomes the ace of the rotation that also features Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez.
Defense wins championships. This is why I believe the team with the better pitching will prevail. In 2015, Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals will hoist the World Series trophy.