Nobody asked me, but ...

    8:14 AM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
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    Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Will you be rooting for Tiger Woods to win the Masters?

    Or, like many I believe, will you be rooting for anybody but Tiger to win at Augusta?

    As polarizing as the guy is - and since LeBron James has become a good guy and fan favorite again and Ray Lewis retired - Tiger's probably the most polarizing athlete going without question. Heck, I don't even know who might be second.

    But you have to give him a ton of credit because so many "experts" wrote him off as being finished and anointed a bunch of others - Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Luke Donald - to take his place atop the golf world.

    None of them did for long and Tiger has worked his way back to No. 1, dusting off the rest of the field like he's done seemingly forever.

    But can he do it again on the game's biggest stage? Can he amp it up and be the old Tiger for four pressure-packed rounds?

    Let's take a quick look at what has happened since he last put on the green jacket on a Sunday evening in April.

    The last time he won at Augusta was in 2005 at age 29.

    That was way before any of his injuries and way before he got busted for his infidelities.

    And long before he creamed that fire hydrant at the bottom of his driveway which helped alert the world what was going on after he left the golf course.

    Then he got divorced. Now he's apparently hooked up with skier Lindsey Vonn.

    The Masters victory in '05 was his ninth major win. He added five more after that, the last coming at the U.S. Open in 2008 when he beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff while limping on a bad knee.

    He's still four short of tying Jack Nicklaus for the most majors won, and he'll be 38 in December.

    But he's still the guy the odds makers think will tame Augusta yet again. And it's hard to bet against him.

    When you consider there are only two golfers under age 40 who have won more than one major (Tiger with 14 and McIlroy with two), it's even easier to think he'll do it.

    The fans at Augusta - oops, I meant the patrons - will be pulling for Phil Mickelson, and CBS will be praying (yet again) for a Tiger and Phil final pairing on Sunday. But if Phil falters along the way, who else is going to give Tiger the biggest challenge?

    Not long ago, we would have said McIlroy. But since he took over as No. 1, all he's done is crumble. Yes, Nike paid him zillions (like they do Tiger) to become the new face of golf, but one wonders if those folks at Nike headquarters in Oregon aren't now a bit worried about that investment. Yes, yes, he made a nice run last Sunday at the Valero Open, but that was the Valero Open.

    And what of defending champ Bubba Watson? We haven't heard much from him since he hit that wild approach in the playoff to beat Louis Oosthuizen.

    Lee Westwood? How long have we heard how he'll break out and win multiple majors and become a dominant force?

    A long time is how long and he's still trying to win his first.

    Luke Donald? See Lee Westwood.

    Maybe Justin Rose. Actually, I think with the way Rose is playing, he could hang around for a while and be a threat.

    Matt Kuchar might be a guy who could be dangerous. The galleries at Augusta love him dating back to when he was the low amateur at the Masters in 1998 and couldn't stop smiling. He's consistent and doesn't rattle easily. The pines would reverberate with roars of "Kooch" if he makes a run and that would be fun to see.

    Brandt Snedeker could really use a major win. The guy is darn good, like Bill Haas, but needs to get over the hump. Both of these guys also could be in the mix.

    But that's about it. The field for the Masters isn't as large as it is for the other majors and there are only a handful of guys who could win it.

    Heck, if I were a betting man, I'd go with Tiger, too.

    Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-area newspapers for over 25 years.

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