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Watch out Tiger Woods, the Europeans are coming

Watch out Tiger Woods, the Europeans are coming

All eyes at the Masters will be on Tiger Woods and that just might play into the hands of the European armada of challengers heading under the radar to Augusta.
It's the strongest lineup from Europe since the heady days of the 1980s and 1990s when Nick Faldo (3), Seve Ballesteros (3), Bernhard Langer (2), Jose Maria Olazabal (2), Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam all pulled on the famous Green Jacket.
Five out of the world top 10 are currently from Europe and nine out of the top 20, and anyone out of those could be considered a realistic candidate to become the first European winner since Olazabal's second triumph in 1999.
World No.4 Lee Westwood of England has consistently underperformed at the year's first major, apart from a tie for sixth place in 1999, but he feels that a change in his preparations could do the trick.
The European No.1 broke with tradition and played two practice rounds over Augusta National last Sunday and Monday, which he believes will pay dividends next week.
"First time I've ever done that," he said. "Normally arrived on Sunday evening and played Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It's quite a demanding place mentally.
"If you're having to take everything in when you're playing practice rounds, just before you're about to play, you can be drained by the time the tournament starts.
"I think that's why most people go a couple weeks before so they can have a couple of weeks just kind of thinking about what they're going to do the week of the Masters."
Similarly, Westwood's compatriot and world No.6 Paul Casey is counting on the years of experience he has accumulated at Augusta to give him an edge over his rivals.
Preparing to tackle the Masters for sixth time, Casey believes that his time may have come.
"I feel like I got my best years ahead of me," he said.
"I've had some good performances in Majors before, especially the Masters, but I'm certainly a lot more mature now than then.
"I'm older, greyer. I feel like the next eight, ten years, that's my big opportunity and, you know, it was 1996 the last time an Englishman won a Major? '99 was the last time a European, Olazabal, won the Masters?
Westwood and Casey are just two of the European top 20 players who will start among the favourites at the 73rd Masters with two other Englishmen, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer of Germany, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Padraig Harrington of Ireland also with their backers.


Updated : 2021-05-17 00:38 GMT+08:00