News & ToursApril 13, 2008

Masters Q&A with Golf Digest's Jaime Diaz

Golf Digest's Jaime Diaz has been covering golf since 1984. We asked him for his take on the 72nd Masters.

How could Trevor Immelman win the Masters?

Jaime Diaz: I read where the oddsmakers pre-tournament had Immelman at 60 to 1 to win. I'd say there were probably 25 guys in the field I would have picked before Immelman, mostly because he has never shown the kind of putting touch that is thought to be required at Augusta. Immelman putted solidly this week, but mostly he won by being the best driver and iron player in the field and not missing too many six-footers. It was a virtuoso ball-striking performance by the young man Gary Player says has the closest thing to Ben Hogan's swing that he has ever seen.

Does this end talk of a Grand Slam in 2008?

Although Immelman won the U.S. Public Links at Torrey Pines and he proved he can win a major at the Masters, Slam talk is dead, and should be. Now, if Immelman wins at Torrey Pines, that's different.

Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman have won the past two Masters. Is that good or bad for golf?

Every winner brings their own attractive qualities to golf history, so in my opinion, they are all good for golf. In Johnson's case, it was inspiring to see a player whose stature and style seemed to make it impossible to win at the new, bulked-up Augusta. Instead, he showed how superb wedge play, clutch putting and poise can be the great equalizer on any course. Immelman's victory showcases one of the great swings the modern game has ever seen, and unleashes the kind of potential that can make him an important challenger to Tiger. Though a Tiger victory in a major is always good for golf because of the attention it garners and the history it makes, the game also needs the most talented young players  to mentally break through so they are comfortable at the very top rank in the Tiger Era. Immelman is one of those players.

That makes three consecutive Masters that Tiger hasn't won. Why can't he win here anymore?

It's a facetious question, but the fact is that the new Augusta allows more styles to be competitive than the old Augusta, where power was a bigger advantage. Tiger will remain the prohibitive Masters favorite, but his game will have to be at least at a B-plus level for him to win. This year, his A-minus ball-striking was undermined by C-minus putting and wedge play. The point is, as good as he is, the new Augusta, more than the old one, requires that he play well by his own standard to win.

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