Spring and spring sports are in the air

Published 5:16 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It’s my favorite time of the year—springtime.

Even more, the crown jewel event of the season, the Masters, is upon us this week.

This means I have three things to do: I make pimento cheese to nibble on all week long through Sunday, I put in an order of merchandise and apparel for my friends to buy who are able to go and lastly, I plan ahead for my inevitable struggle to focus at work Thursday and Friday while I try to follow the tournament and get my work done at the same time.

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The defending champion, Jordan Spieth, has got to be one of my favorite players to ever swing a club, and he is at the top of the headlines going into the week. Last year was as surreal as it comes, with the 22-year-old from Texas winning six tournaments, two of them majors, and finishing in the top 10 in 16 tourneys. His earnings, not including endorsements and sponsorships, totaled more than $12 million. Pretty stout.

Yet, the beginning of this season hasn’t been too kind to Spieth. He won the Hyundai Tournament in January, then dropped off from there, only having one other top 10 finish in six tournaments and missing the cut once.

A lot of the chatter has been whether Spieth had one good—or lucky—year and is dropping off the map. I call that bogus. What’s going through his head is anybody’s guess, but that’s where the real problem lies. The kid has the proven he has the mental fortitude to handle the biggest states in the sport, and I’d argue the physical side of things isn’t the problem (his swing is dang purty). I have faith he and his caddy Michael Greller are doing what it takes to get in Masters Mode.

But there’s another player that already appears to be going 100 MPH. Jason Day is the betting favorite in Las Vegas, and for good reason. After grabbing the PGA Championship last August and winning the last two tournaments he’s played in this year, the Aussie is clearly feeling hot. Of course, you also have an eager Rory McIlroy looking to achieve the career grand slam with a win at Augusta following a mediocre 2015 record.

My bet is the tournament coming down to these three players. I’ll be snacking on pimento cheese all the way to the Green Jacket ceremony to find out.