There is method in the madness of dodging Masters hype. Patrick Reed, Sergio García, Danny Willett, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Ángel Cabrera and Charl Schwartzel would have been names etched on betting slips before claiming a Green Jacket but hardly on a basis that would trouble bookmakers. Recent history has told us to look beyond the pre-tournament noise, even if what Dustin Johnson could have achieved in 2017 remains anyone’s guess, after he was ruled out of Masters participation by a tumble down a flight of stairs.In theory, the Masters should be the easiest of the majors to predict. Not only does it run with the smallest field, but a number of them can be immediately discarded as potential winners on the basis of age; see José María Olazábal, Fred Couples, Larry Mize, Ian Woosnam. The basic nuances of Augusta National also rule out many younger players. Albane Valenzuela: the amateur golfer who turned down Augusta Share on Twitter Since you’re here… Golf Jordan Spieth Brooks Koepka Read more The Masters Share on WhatsApp “In any career you’re going to have ups and downs. I’ve also had it at the time around when I was missing Q-School. I had a year or two where I couldn’t get the ball in the hole from outside of three feet and I turned that, in a couple of years, to making everything. So it’s how it works. It’s just a matter of when you get off, learning from it, finding out why, so that you don’t get as off next time.”Brooks Koepka’s three major wins mean he has equalled Spieth on that front. Koepka has an average Masters return, by his own lofty standards, but his gradual improvement – from 33rd to 22nd and 11th since 2015 – suggests he has come to terms with the course. Johnson’s two wins this year, but primarily his emphatic success in Mexico, highlight his own hopes here. Rickie Fowler remains burdened by being seen as one of the best players of his era not to win a major; second at the Masters a year ago was his latest close shave.Augusta’s propensity to change when nobody is looking has continued with the extension of the 5th, already a treacherous par four, by 40 yards to a potential 495. This, plus possible adjustment to the bunkers themselves, should bring sand traps on the left side of the fairway into play where they were recently rendered redundant by booming drives.Arguably such technicalities are not where the Masters is won and lost. So much of it is in the mind; including, perhaps, the escaping of attention. Share via Email Read more Topics Support The Guardian Reuse this content Share on Messenger features Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest The Observer Rory McIlroy: ‘I don’t need to fill a void in my life by winning majors’ US sports Share on LinkedIn … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. If the present Masters contingent of 86 players holds until Thursday, it will be the smallest since 1997. The identity of the first-round leader of that tournament – John Huston – is a decent pub quiz question but nobody needs reminding of the victor. Tiger Woods blew away the Augusta field by 12 shots. Should Woods prevail again, for a 15th major win, the story will transcend golf.Notable talent, arguably more worthy of attention even than a reinvigorated Woods, lies elsewhere. Much of it is European. Francesco Molinari has demonstrated an ability to win in the United States and to claim a major. The Italian’s game is so versatile as to suit any venue. Tommy Fleetwood’s rise will, surely, include US and major success before too long; it would be unwise to discount them occurring in tandem. Justin Rose has a terrific Masters record, worthy of immense respect. Rory McIlroy’s fifth attempt at completing a career grand slam comes at a time when he is in excellent form. McIlroy’s deliberate attempt to dim the lights that shine upon him should not mask his chances.Jordan Spieth breaks the mould of those tipped to impress. His second‑place finish on his Masters debut in 2014 triggered excitement and hinted at greatness and those sentiments were rubber-stamped by his triumph in 2015.This has the feeling of a highly significant week for Spieth. Before finding form at this weekend’s Valero Texas Open, the 25-year-old had become accustomed either to making up the numbers or missing cuts. When asked what he would have thought if someone had said to him after his 2017 Open victory that he would head to the Masters 21 months later without another win, Spieth smiled. “That it had been one hell of a celebration.”However, if Spieth cannot summon something magical at Augusta, where his full record is a rather incredible – 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 11th, 3rd – then serious questions will be raised about what precisely has gone wrong.“I’ve unfortunately had these waves of one thing being off that prevents me from consistently solid golf,” Spieth said. “But the other thing is really good. The good news is I feel like my putting is here to stay and the swing is working in the right direction.
To view the stories, please click on the following links: Tomaree High School Students Star In Touch Football The Touch Football paddock is proving to be a place Tomaree High School students are getting to know well. A host of skilled athletes from the high school are making inroads into the sport, which is being pushed by Touch Footballing mentor and new Hunter schools touch convenor Jodie Laloata.http://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/news/local/sport/athletics/tomaree-high-school-students-star-in-touch-football/2404807.aspx Underdogs Set For Touch Grand FinalWagga Touch Football champion Don Tuckwells Audio is in danger of a premiership upset tonight, according to Kristopher Graydons Jewellers captain Denise Edwards. Set to face the women’s premier league heavyweight in tonight’s grand final at Jubilee Park, Edwards believes the enthusiasm of her young squad could be enough to topple the favourite.http://www.dailyadvertiser.com.au/news/local/sport/other/underdogs-set-for-touch-grand-final/2390825.aspxGeorgia Holden: A Touch Of ClassIn Albury-Wodonga, which straddles the Victoria-New South Wales border, Touch is as pervasive as AFL football is further south. So when Georgia Holden moved from the town to La Trobe University in Bundoora this year, it seemed only natural that she start playing for the university Touch team.http://www.northernweekly.com.au/news/local/sport/general/georgia-holden-a-touch-of-class/2389351.aspx Billy’s Touch Of HistoryBilly Greatbatch made history last weekend. He became the youngest person in Australia to be awarded a level four touch football referee badgehttp://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/news/local/sport/general/billys-touch-of-history/2396039.aspx Ospreys Touch OutThe Yamba Touch Association has made an impressive return to major competition with the Ospreys acquitting themselves well at the 35th annual NSW Touch State Cup in Port Macquarie at the weekend.http://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/story/2011/12/08/ospreys-touched-out Port Team Wins At State Cup The new-look game-plan paid dividends for the Port Macquarie mixed open B team yesterday when they triumphed in the State Cup at Regional Sports Stadium. Before the tournament, coach Aaron Ison said his team would play a different style and try to surprise their opposition.http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/sport/general/port-team-wins-at-state-cup/2380292.aspx State Cup Goes Off Without A HitchPort Macquarie punched above its weight at the State Cup last weekend. That was the opinion of Port Macquarie Touch Football Association president Chris Veech.http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/sport/general/state-cup-goes-off-without-a-hitch/2383519.aspx Bandits Win Third CrownThe Beresfield Bandits have claimed their third consecutive NSW State Cup crown after a successful showing at Port Macquarie over the weekend. The Bandits women’s 40s squad remained undefeated to seal the deal at the 2011 tournament in an effort described by player-coach Gai Taylor as inspiring.http://www.maitlandmercury.com.au/news/local/sport/other/bandits-win-third-crown/2382118.aspx Port Women Show Their SkillsThe Port Macquarie women’s open team have confirmed their place as top competitors in the Touch Football State Cup.In day two of the tournament, the girls took down Taren point seven to three.http://www.nbntv.com.au/index.php/2011/12/03/port-women-show-their-skills/ Devils Advocates Hell-Bent On Cup SuccessThe absence of Australian representative Nicole Beck hasn’t hurt the Wollongong open women’s touch team’s confidence heading into this weekend’s State Cup at Port Macquarie. Runners-up last year, the Red Devils are determined to prove they can win without Beck, who is recovering from ankle surgery.http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/local/sport/rugby-league/devils-advocates-hellbent-on-cup-success/2377062.aspx State Cup Kicks OffDay one of the State Touch Football Cup has got off to a roaring start. Thousands of competitors have fought it out, in search of glory.http://au.prime7.yahoo.com/n1/video/-/watch/27454322/state-cup-kicks-off/ Port’s Open Women’s Team Start SlowlyThe Port Macquarie open women’s touch football team contesting the State Cup have had a forgetful start. Despite playing two games for two losses the competition rookies have taken heart out of their defeats.http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/news/general/ports-open-womens-team-start-slowly/2379620.aspx Follow The State Cup Right HereTwo hundred teams from across NSW have converged on Port Macquarie this weekend to compete in the 2011 State Cup. About 3000 players will be competing across 17 divisions at the event, ranging from under 20s to the men’s 50s division. http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/news/general/follow-the-state-cup-right-here/2379588.aspx Coleman Women Love State CupToday marks the start of one of the best times of the year for the Coleman women. Sisters Kate and Laura will team up in the Port Macquarie women’s open A side at the NSW Touch State Cup. http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/sport/general/coleman-women-love-state-cup/2378287.aspx Port Women Our Great State Cup HopeThey’re our great State Cup hope. The Port Macquarie women’s open team may not have an official ranking at the tournament, but that’s not going to stop them turning heads.http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/sport/general/port-women-our-big-hope/2378283.aspx State Cup Stays In Port MacquarieTouch Football’s love affair with Port Macquarie will continue through until 2016 – at least. NSW Touch Football general manager Dean Russell revealed Port Macquarie has won a five-year contract to host the jewel in the sport’s crown as he launched this year’s tournament this morning.http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/news/general/state-cup-stays-in-port-macquarie/2377904.aspx Port Retains Touch Cup Hosting RightsPort Macquarie will benefit from a $13 million windfall after the NSW Touch Association yesterday announced the prestigious State Cup would remain in town for the next five years. General manager Dean Russell made the declaration at Port Macquarie Panthers on the eve of the 23rd tournament, which starts today at Tuffins Lane and the Regional Sports Stadium.http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/news/general/port-retains-touch-cup-hosting-rights/2378039.aspx State Cup Stays Puthttp://au.prime7.yahoo.com/n1/video/-/watch/27443382/state-cup-stays-put/ Port To Remain Home Of State CupPort Macquarie has won the right to host the New South Wales Touch Football State Cup for the next five years. The announcement was made this morning, as the town prepares to welcome 5,000 players, officials and supporters for this year’s event.http://www.nbntv.com.au/index.php/2011/12/01/port-to-remain-home-of-state-cup/Winning Touch For Maitland’s State Cup CrewThe Maitland region will be well represented at the state’s largest touch football competition. Eight teams from the Maitland district will be part of 3000 competitors taking part in the NSW State Cup, which starts in Port Macquarie tomorrow.http://www.maitlandmercury.com.au/news/local/sport/other/winning-touch-for-maitlands-state-cup-crew/2376944.aspx Uphill battle for Mudgee MudcrabsInjuries and other commitments have ravaged the two Mudgee Mudcrabs teams for the NSW State Cup, which begins today in Port Macquarie. The Mudcrabs have sent two teams to contest the men’s opens B and women’s under 20s divisions.http://www.mudgeeguardian.com.au/news/local/sport/other/uphill-battle-for-mudgee-mudcrabs/2378247.aspx Touch Football Star Named Sports StarDalby Herald09/12/2011Our Lady of the Southern Cross College student Hannah Hegedus has had an incredibly successful year on the touch football field.Her achievements in playing touch at a national level and athletics and cross country at a state level have earned her the title of Sports Star of the month for October.Hannah was chosen on the South West Queensland under-12 girls club touch football team which competed in the state championships at Townsville. As a result of her performances at the championships, she was named on the Queensland U12 Merit Teams.After playing for the Darling Downs touch football team at the U12 schoolgirls state championships in Toowoomba, Hannah was picked to play for Queensland and headed to Coffs Harbour to contest the national title.To add to this achievement, Hannah was also the team’s co-captain. After playing close to 10 games over four days, the Queensland team made it to the grand final, just going down to New South Wales 3-2 in a tight match.Hannah said playing at the nationals was a fantastic experience which exposed her to touch football at a high level.“I was very nervous, but it was a really great experience,” Hannah said.“Being co-captain meant I had to lead the team and do the toss.”“My whole family came down to Coffs Harbour to watch.“I’d really like to play for Queensland again.”Hannah said she hoped to compete in future national titles as she goes into high school.“It’s a fun team sport, and I really like it.”