Picks for the 2012 Masters

April brings more than just spring weather to most states around the United States. It also brings us the first major of the PGA Tour season. 'A tradition like no other' -- The Masters.

This time of year, Augusta, Ga. becomes the epicenter of the golfing world.

The exclusiveness of Augusta National, the past champions dinner, the par three contest. And of course, the four rounds of play we will all witness, to see who becomes the next player to slip on the green jacket.

Cementing their place, along golf's elite.

The 2012 edition of The Masters, is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory.

Tiger Woods has been back to the winner's circle for the first time in nearly three years.

Some of the games biggest, youngest and brightest stars, such as Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are heading to Augusta with a win already under their belts this season.

McIlroy returns to the site, where he had a collapse on the back-nine last year. Seeing him lose his bid for a wire-to-wire victory, when it all went horribly wrong for the then 21-year old Northern Irishman on the tee box at No. 10.

Will this be the year Woods grabs his first major since the U.S. Open in 2008?

Can Mickelson grab his fourth green jacket at a place he holds so dear to his heart?

Now a major champion, will McIlroy exercise his demons from a year ago?

Round one of The Masters begins tomorrow. Let's look at who I believe has what it takes to slip on the green jacket in 2012.

Rory McIlroy

In 2011, one of the games brightest young stars, found himself leading the Masters on Sunday afternoon, with nine holes left to play. Of course, disaster would strike on the tee at No. 10.

Though McIlroy had a collapse last season. The 22-year old is now a major champion, and comes back to Augusta with the knowledge, experience and tested nerve he did not have the previous year for Augusta.

Coming into the Masters. He has racked up top-5 finishes in 12 of his last 13 world wide starts. To go along with a victory last month, at the Honda Classic.

With the course conditions (so far) being softer than normal, and more rain forecasted this week. A young, fearless player; like McIlroy, could go pin hunting and drop some low scores en-route to victory.

Tiger Woods

It's been a while since many would or could put Woods on any list to come out the victor at a tournament. But this is Augusta. Not many players can play this course the way he can.

Coming off a big win at Bay Hill, which saw him claim his first PGA Tour victory in nearly 1,000 days. His five stroke deficit there was definitely a wake up call to the rest of the players. And to golf fans around the world.

The four-time Masters champion finished in a tie for fourth here last year. Leading the PGA Tour in the all-around ranking, total driving as well as birdies or better on par-5's.

A confident Woods, on a course he probably knows better than almost any player. Could spell a 15th major for the former No. 1 player in the world.

Phil Mickelson

A three-time Masters champion, Mickelson has made no bones about the soft conditions so far in 2012 at Augusta National. Stating that as soft as they are, it could be a birdie fest this year.

His knowledge of the course is up there with the likes of Woods and Nickalus. The creativity he possesses, his wedge play and ability to get up and down from almost anywhere. Makes him a favorite seemingly every year at Augusta.

Mickelson, already a winner in 2012 at the AT&T at Pebble Beach, has also posted two more top-5's in 2012. Including a tie for fourth last week in Houston.

If 'Lefty' has his flat stick working early [currently ranked 2nd in strokes gained putting] he can make some noise, perhaps finding himself in position, to win his fourth green jacket.

Luke Donald

The No. 1 ranked player in the world, though without a major on his resume' (yet), cannot be over looked heading into Augusta.

With conditions the way they are currently at Augusta National, one of the best iron players in the game can throw shots at the pins. Leaving himself looks at birdies on a lot of these greens.

A victory three weeks ago at Copperhead, vaulted him back to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings. And perhaps giving himself a boost on confidence heading into the season's first major.

No where near the longest player on Tour. Donald has the consistency, iron play and smarts to find his way to the top of the leader board this week.

Keegan Bradley

That's right. Bradley. Tough to argue with his play over the past few months.

The 2011 PGA Champion; as a rookie by the way, has been racking up string finish after strong finish, since winning at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

In his nine starts so far in 2012, Bradley has finished inside the top-25 in all of them. Including top-10's the last two weeks in a row. Not a bad way to go into your first visit to the Masters.

Bradley ranks in the top-25 on the PGA Tour in driving distance, greens in regulation and strokes gained putting. All, very important areas of the game around Augusta National.

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