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2011 Masters: Will Woods or Mickelson Be Wearing Green Come Sunday?

Do you hear that friends? The soft cooing of Jim Nantz. The wearing of boat shoes and polos. The screaming of "GET IN THE HOLE" off a par five drive. The donning of a green jacket.  It's Masters time!

The unofficial start of summer and the cornucopia of majors that comes with it tees off this weekend at Augusta National. Before letting Nantz - the former Houston Cougars golfer and Fred Couples roommate - guide you through the weekend, lets take a look at some stories to follow.

Can Lefty Repeat?  Mickelson returns to Augusta in search of his fourth green jacket in eight years, an astounding feat if he manages it. (Though three-in-seven is nothing to scoff at.) He picked up his first win since the 2010 Masters this past weekend at the Shell Houston Open, and from the look of it he's rounding into form at just the right time. Being the "favorite" in a golf tournament means absolutely nothing, but Lefty deserves the moniker going into this year's tournament.

Tiger On The Prowl:  It's easy to take shots at Woods.He slept with porn stars and now his career is in shambles and he's playing terrible golf!  While that may be true, I'd like to point something out to everyone. Last year in the midst of the cyclone of misery surrounding Woods, he finished tied for fourth at the Masters. Playing some of the worst golf of his career,Tiger Woods still managed a top five finish at Augusta. Write him off at your own peril.  Augusta is Tiger country.

Youth Movement: Just behind the established aristocracy of the tour sits a host of talented youngsters.  Dustin Johnson can rip it and had an excellent 2010 (outside of a certain Sunday at Pebble Beach). Anthony Kim possesses a well-rounded game and continues to tease with excellent showings. And Hunter Mahan is always dangerous.  Golf could use an infusion of youth and the good pub that would accompany a breakout winner. Can one of them finally make the leap to major winner?

The Pick:  Mickelson is the easy pick, but there's no fun in that. I gave Bubba Watson serious consideration, especially since he can bomb it on drives and is a joy to follow. But I believe in karma and like the chances of another big hitter. Dustin Johnson, I choo-choo-choose you!

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.