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Alex Myers, Golf Digest Senior Writer

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April 4, 2023 9:44 pm

Alex Myers, Golf Digest Senior Writer

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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April 4, 2023 9:44 pm

Alex Myers joined Zach to preview the Masters and discuss if this could be Tiger Woods' final year playing at Augusta. 

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That's slash positive. Alex, appreciate the time. Happy major season. How are you? I'm doing great, Zach. How are you doing?

I'm doing fantastic. So we know it doesn't matter how many years he's been in the spotlight, whether he's been great or if he's not himself anymore. We know Tiger is still the story. What are your expectations for Tiger this weekend? Do you think he'll make the cut? You know, it's hard for me to say that he won't make the cut based on the fact that he made it last year when, you know, we really didn't know if he was going to make the cut.

And, you know, we had some interesting comments today. You know, he says his game is better than it was last year at this point, which makes sense. He's obviously played a little more at this point. He says his endurance is better at this point, which is good. But then he said his leg is more sore than it was last point because he's actually done more and practiced and played more. So, you know, it's kind of a mixed bag from him today. But overall, the fact that he thinks his game is in a better place than it was last year when he easily made the cut last year.

And then, of course, you know, you know, slow down on the weekend. I think it would be disappointing for him to not make the cut. I think, you know, realistically, it's tough for me to think that he's going to contend or anything.

And I know he probably thinks he might. But I think even realistically down low, deep down inside, anything better than making the cut and better than, what was it, 47th last year would be a nice week for him. He's my favorite golfer ever. He's why I love the sport. But if we actually injected him with true serum, do you actually think he believes that he could still win this tournament this year? You know, this again, this tournament might be the only one that he would, if you injected him with the truth serum, he might still give you an answer that yes, because as he talked about today, you know, there's a history of older players doing well here. Maybe not winning here, but certainly he pointed out Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, you know, been able to make somewhat runs on Sunday into their 50s. Tiger, of course, is 47. Of course, neither of those guys went through a car accident quite like Tiger did and nearly have to have your leg amputated.

So a little bit of different story, but I think just, you know, this is the course, especially of all the majors that rewards experience the most, of course, they play it every year. So this is the place for him to do it. Of course, we saw him do it in 2019 before the accident, but post back surgery. So yeah, the truth serum, I'm not sure if you would actually believe it, but of all the places, it would be at Augusta National. Alex Myers here with us is Phil Mickelson going to be a coward the entire week and not talk to the media like he elected not to do today. Yeah, I mean, you know, he didn't do the press conference.

He actually did answer a couple questions in the flash area, which I was surprised by because right, I would have thought that once you don't do the official press conference that you would just kind of duck out. But, you know, it's interesting with Phil because it's just so crazy to think just going back to what 2021 when he wins at Kiawah that he's, you know, as popular as he's ever been. He's kind of got the whole country on his side. He's, you know, the most popular athlete on the planet for a couple days there when he wins that PGA Championship, you know, at the age of 50.

And now he's kind of this guy who, you know, yeah, he's kind of ducking the media here and there. It's not even like people really even want to see him, though, as much the crowds aren't there for him. You know, last year at the open when Tiger got that great send off potentially at St. Andrews, Phil was playing right behind him and there was no one there to watch him. And it's like this is Phil Mickelson. He's one of the great players of this era of all time. One of the most popular players and, you know, this move to live and kind of falling off the face of the map. It's just it's just been bizarre couple years for him. Yeah, it's funny how much a difference a year makes like a year ago. I'd be like screw the live golf guys.

I like Rory McIlroy. I hope he sticks it to all them and everything. Now, like they've been so irrelevant. I know they got their money. God bless them, whatever. But they've been so irrelevant. Like I know it's a story heading into this weekend, but I don't think it's as big of a deal as I thought it was going to be if you asked me a few months ago. Yeah, I kind of agree with that. I mean, the biggest storyline you're kind of hearing is just because Brooks Koepcke won last week and it kind of like, oh, he's the first guy to win twice there. Maybe he's over the injuries. Of course, we all know that he won the four majors and basically a two year span. And he kind of was that guy who became the, you know, the big game hunter of all the top guys. So just because he won last week, I guess you do you do have that storyline of all.

Wow. Can can these with guys compete? And, you know, I do think it's a little overrated. I think we're we're not far enough removed from them playing the full time PGA Tour schedule and whatnot to have lost all of their competitive edge for sure. I mean, I'm shocked when I see some of the odds on Cam Smith, for instance. I mean, when he won the British Open last year, having had two great runs at the Masters previously moves in the final group last year with Scottie Shepler, you would have thought he'd be one of the top two or three favorites for the Masters.

I'm seeing him at thirty to one, thirty five to one. It's like it's not like this guy doesn't play golf anymore. I mean, you know, so again, we're going to have to see how these guys do now if none of these guys contended a major this year, then you have to say, OK, well, the move to live really, you know, sabotage their career, at least in terms of majors.

But I think for now, the book is still open. I think a guy like Brooks has been hurt, injured. A guy like Cam Smith is still in his prime. And it wouldn't surprise me at all to see, especially Smith contend this week. If you had to just pick one live golfer to win the Masters outright, who would that be this weekend?

Cam Smith, for sure. I mean, again, you know, he became the first guy I know is the November Masters, but he became the first guy to shoot four rounds in the 60s in one week. And then he came back last year and was in that final group. And, you know, Scottie Shepler doesn't drill the stick and drop in for that magical birdie on the third hole.

Who knows how this thing goes? It could have gone a lot differently last year. You know, because it's talk about Cam Smith winning the Masters of players in a British Open last year. So I think he's got a great record here. The only thing that scares me a little with him specifically is, you know, all the rain that's expected. You know, we've always talked about him as having this great short game and being able to play kind of these fast courses. If it's going to get that soggy over the weekend, then maybe that takes away a little of his advantage.

And then maybe it goes, shifts more to a DJ or someone like that. Obviously, DJ won in November when the conditions were a little softer. But of all the live guys, even with Brooks coming off that win last week, I still like Cam Smith just based on his track record here. Alex Myers, if you just had to pick between Scottie Shepler and Jon Rahm to win this weekend, who would it be? Oh, so tough. So tough Zach. It really is. You know, Rahm is a guy who I believe maybe five years ago I just said I'm going to pick him until he wins.

So I got to kind of stick with that. But it's tough to go against Scottie Shepler based on the fact that he is the defending champ. He is kind of the guy that no matter what he does, for whatever reason, he doesn't quite get that same respect as a Jon Rahm, as a Rory McElroy.

You know, he's won six times in a little over a year, and all six of those events have been big time events. So he deserves to be the favorite. But just because I don't want to miss out on the Rahm win when he finally does, I'll stick with Jon Rahm.

I'll say this. You always say you pick Jon Rahm like you just said. The guy I always pick is Patrick Cantlay. Now the last three years, every major, I picked three guys just to win the tournament outright.

I've hit on Morikawa and then Fitzpatrick last year because Steve Sands just gave me a great assist on the air and I just said okay, I'll go with whatever Sands he says. But what's going on with Cantlay? Because we know how great of a golfer he is, but he's losing me even when it comes to these majors. And I know if I don't bet him for this tournament, he'll win the Masters this week. He'll win the Masters.

Zach, I wish I could explain it. You know, I was on him in 2019. I think he was an 80-1 or something crazy. And he took the lead briefly with that run, right? He almost retired.

Golf Digest, nice knowing you. Exactly. And then since then, I think he somehow even stumbled on the last hole or two because I think he only finished like tied for ninth or something. He hasn't had a top 10 at a major since then. And meanwhile, what's really bizarre is that he's actually started to win other events in that period. You know, for a while it was like he's this great player, but he's not really winning. Then all of a sudden he started winning a lot, but then not contending at all at majors.

So look, I really wish I had an answer. It's bizarre. He seems to have all the tools to play anywhere, but certainly at Augusta. And yeah, and for that reason, for that major reason, I find myself staying away from him. I just can't, you know, since that time that he made that one run and really got close, it's been tough for me to back him.

I'll tell you this. Maybe it's just because I'm a Tiger guy. For the longest time, and I felt like I was on an island, I just did not like Rory McIlroy. And the last two years, I find myself rooting for Rory. And we know he hasn't won a major since 2014. It's been crazy.

It's been that long. If I had to make one pick this weekend, I really hope that it's Rory McIlroy. You know, it's interesting. I kind of line up with you on that because when Rory obviously started to win these majors at a young age, and not only win them, but win in dominant fashion by eight shots his first two majors, he was getting those Tiger comparisons. And yeah, you know, I grew up watching Tiger. He got me into golf and everything, and you're right. It was kind of like he's stepping on Tiger's toes, so I didn't like him first either as much.

Or I was kind of saying, slow down, Rory. Let's not go crazy here. But the fact that he hasn't won a major since 2014 is absolutely bananas. He's won everything else multiple times, basically, in that span. And, you know, as much as I never pick him here, again, if it really does rain as much as they're saying, that plays into his hands. I mean, we've seen him play, you know, when he won that first major, you know, it was a very wet congressional. Obviously, Akua, there was the day that got kind of wiped out there.

It was very wet. He won there. Those are the two majors he won by eight shots.

So, you know, these are conditions that definitely, I think, help him. And he's very confident. I mean, he said today, no one knows his course as well better than him.

I mean, I think Tiger Woods does, but, you know, you get the point. He's played here 15 times. It's crazy.

I mean, you know, he's 33 years old, but he's been here so many times, and that experience definitely counts for something here. So, you know, that with the rain, everything else, you know, I can kind of see it. I can see it. Wrap it up with Alex Myers, who joins us right now as we preview the Masters. The last few years, so many people have fallen in love with Will Zalatoris, and then also Colin Morikawa, who's won two majors. How do you look at both of their chances heading into this weekend? Yeah, so Colin Morikawa is one of my five picks, and actually might be my top guy, just based on the odds. I just don't think he's getting, I actually think you're getting fair odds with him, whereas, you know, some of these top guns are, you're not getting quite the fair numbers. So I think Morikawa in that, I think it's like 22, 24 range.

I kind of like that. Zalatoris, you know, it's interesting. He keeps sliding down the board. We know he finished runner-up in his debut. He came back last year, finished sixth.

You know, he's had the back issues, played well with Riviera this year, but hasn't done anything the last couple months. And then today he comes out and says he's changing his putting grip, and he's modeling it after, well, his coach at Wake Forest, Jerry Haas, is one thing. And then D.J. Singh, I'm like, I've never heard anybody kind of model their putting after D.J.

Singh. So now, to be fair, D.J. did win a Masters, but to me, that just is not a great sign. And I think even the bookies kind of smell that. They're kind of lowering the odds, almost sucking you in.

So, again, I'd love to be wrong. I'm a Wake Forest guy like Will Zalatoris, but of those two guys you mentioned, I really love Morikawa, and I'm definitely staying away from Zalatoris. It's kind of weird to have a popular long shot, but two names that I keep on seeing on every article, Alex Myers' great job, senior writer for Golf Digest as we preview the Masters, is Sung Jae-in and then also Shane Lowry. Now, we know Sung Jae-in in 2020 tied for second, last year tied for eighth, and then for Shane Lowry last year, he tied for third. How about those two guys' chances?

Yeah, I mean, look, I get it. I mean, they're definitely popular picks for sure. They're not in my top five. I don't know how anyone really would put them in their top five, but, you know, certainly they've had great events here.

Sung Jae-in, the one time was in November, so I don't know if you maybe take that with a little bit of, you know, grain of salt there. But, yeah, I mean, I'm looking elsewhere, but certainly maybe a top ten bet with those two guys. They seem pretty safe. They're very steady players, and they have the track records here to back it up. So if you had to give me three picks to outright win, who are your three picks?

I guess I'd go Rum, Morikawa. Let's take Scottie Scheffler out of the mix. It's not fair. I mean, he's too good. And Zander. I'm going Zander, my guy. He's going to do it one of these days.

Maybe this is the week. Before we let you run, what is it like covering Scottie Scheffler? Because we know how dominant he's been, but there's really not much personality there.

Yeah, that's definitely a fair assessment. You know, I'd like to say it's tough, but it's not because he still does give you some stuff. And he gives you great, honest answers. He's just, for whatever reason, not the most exciting guy. I mean, we did a video with him, and he answered all these questions about The Office, his favorite show. And he was great in the video, and he's like the Office expert. But that's just the kind of guy he is.

He plays golf, he goes back to his house, he watches The Office, helps him relax, whatever. He's just kind of like a normal guy. So I think there are definitely more exciting guys to cover, but of the guys who are not flashy, I still think he gives enough goods that you like him. You kind of pull for him.

So I'm a Scottie guy. Anything else that really stands out to you with this field that we didn't cover? Well, you know, I mean, again, obviously, I think, you know, the Liv guys is the big, the big, you know, storyline other than Tiger. We've kind of talked about both those things. I just, I got to say Tiger, it was the most, you know, we've seen him in the last couple of years, you know, have that appreciative angle.

But I think today was even the most I've seen him kind of display that. And, and in a way it's cool, but in a way it's a little sad too, because, you know, he's talking about getting on the senior tour and getting a buggy, you know, AKA golf cart to play with. It's just kind of, did he really, I remember the John Daly comments back at what was that? The PGA championship, but that's right. That's right. Yeah.

He said, no, I I've got a couple more years till I've got a buggy. Wow. Yeah. So he, you know, he's kind of playing into that, you know, he's getting near 50. It's just interesting to hear him talk like that. You know, you mentioned again that last year was a small victory, just making the cut. You know, these are things that we would never hear him say in the past. So in one way, it's kind of cool. It's kind of endearing. And another way, you know, as Tiger fans, like we both are, it's a little sad because you kind of really realize that this window is, is probably closing up.

But look, I think we all would love to see him make at least one more run. And again, this is the place probably where it could happen. Senior writer at Golf Digest, he's Alex Myers. Alex, appreciate the insight as always. You got it, Zach. Take care. Enjoy the golf.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-04 22:56:52 / 2023-04-04 23:05:06 / 8

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