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Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Moore should be merrier than his feeble playing partners

Olazabal unlikely to sparkle on Augusta return

Ryan Moore celebrates winning his match at the Ryder Cup against Lee Westwood
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Ryan Moore made a hugely successful Ryder Cup debut last year, clinching the American victory by winning his Sunday singles match, and the confidence gained from that experience may turn the Washington man into a Major contender.

Moore can certainly be fancied to account for playing partners Webb Simpson and Jose Maria Olazabal in his Masters first-round threeball (4.51pm UK and Ireland time).

Simpson won the US Open in 2012 but has performed poorly in Majors since then, with six missed cuts and a best finish of 13th place. His Masters record is particularly bad – 44-MC-MC-28-29 – and the course does not play to his strengths.

In fact, Simpson's strengths are difficult to identify these days. A general driving accuracy and an ability to grind pars may be them, but neither count for much at Augusta. He is short of power and an abysmal putter, and aside from a strong weekend in Phoenix in February, his recent efforts have been mediocre at best.

The return of Olazabal to Masters competition is a worrying one for his fans. The Spaniard should be remembered for his Augusta brilliance in 1994 and 1999, and retire from top-flight competition gracefully at 51 years of age. There is little to be gained from putting his injury-ravaged body on the line again.

Olazabal has not made a cut since March 2015. He has made one of his last 16 cuts. The modern Augusta is enormous for such a weak driver, and pre-tournament storms have made life even tougher for Ollie. Moore, runner-up in the Tour Championship at the end of September, should cruise to a threeball victory if he's in anything close to his best form.

Rory McIlroy is the other threeball wager which appeals at a shade of odds-on to defeat Hideto Tanihara and Jon Rahm. McIlroy has a vast edge in Augusta experience on both his partners and has carded an over-par first round only once in eight Masters starts.

Recommendations
R Moore
3pts 10-11 general
R McIlroy
2pts 19-20 Coral

The modern Augusta is enormous for such a weak driver, and pre-tournament storms have made life even tougher for Ollie
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