Golf journalists from all over Europe were humming the old James Darren tune as they snuggled into their first class transatlantic accomodation:
"Goodbye Cruel World, I'm off to join the circus."
That is exactly what this week has become, so far at least, but there's a golf tournament going on and here's an Andy North-type elimination as we try to rule out who won't win The Masters. And who might.
Amateurs: No amateur has ever won. No chance. And let's eliminate a couple of under 21's. Sorry Ryo, Rory.
Australians: No Aussie has ever won, and that won't change. Ogilvy has the game for it, but not the form. And Kiwi Campbell has lost both.
Seniors: Oldest winner so far is Nicklaus at 46, so let's add old 'uns Perry (the magic putter has broken), Singh (will he complete 36 holes with that back?) and Hamilton. In-form Freddie Couples is the best bet, but his putting demons will return if he's contending on Sunday afternoon, worth an e.w. saver.
Masters first-timers: Bill Haas and Schwartzel are in fine form and expect them and F.Molinari to make the cut but no first-timer has won since Zoeller in 1979.
Non-winners in the US: Last Tour non-winner to take the Green Jacket was Langer, 25 years ago. So this eliminates the likes of Kaymer and Karlsson, the Danes, McDowell, Eddie Molinari, Fisher and Wilson, Quiros and Clark. And Steve Marino. Let's throw in Poulter, no stroke-play win in the States.
No form recently: Let's put Cabrera in here, no form last year either! And add Woods, Stenson, Flesch, Immelman, Verplank, Kelly, Slocum, Toms, Chad Campbell, Leonard, Rollins, O'Hair, Zach Johnson, Sabbatini.
Wild and Crazy: Anthony Kim won last week hitting just 23 of 56 fairways. That won't work this week; you don't have to be straight as a die, but you can't score dependably from the trees either. Others in the bottom 25% in driving accuracy who would need a miracle: Harrington, Dustin Johnson (tho he hits so far that conventional wisdom may be challenged), Duval, Ryan Palmer, and the ever enigmatic Phil Mickelson.
Interesting listening to Phil say that he was using his driver in Houston regardless of whether it was the right club for the hole. Just practicing for Augusta.
Too short: Furyk, Donald, Curtis. Zach Johnson famously laid up on every par five in 2007 yet birdied eleven of them. So Luke Donald, with the premier short game on Tour, should still be reckoned with, another good each way value!
Too moody: Garcia (but I'd love to see him win), Glover.
Too slow: Ben Crane.
Too likely to be distracted: Kuchar and Choi (though otherwise excellent outside chances!)
Walking wounded: Paul Casey. Has a Masters game; will win it one day if he can control his emotions on Sunday. But is he fit?
Can't get up and down: Hunter Mahan. Lousy scrambling AND putting stats.
And then there were ten:
10).Nick Watney: Too early for him, not quite been at peak form this year. Pebble Beach?
9).YE Yang: Well, Why not? Does everything well but possibly doesn't have either the Masters experience or short game. Yet.
8).Ryan Moore: Will the real Mr Moore please stand up? 13th here as an amateur and finally broke through with his first Tour win at Greeensboro. Does everything well and looks the best of the real outsiders.
7).Camilo Villegas: Has a Major game when his putter is hot. Great early season form but perhaps peaked too early.
6).Mike Weir: Masters specialist with great short game.
5).Steve Stricker: Mr Consistent, but I think his Major challenge this year is in his Wisconsin backyard, at Whistling Straits.
4).Stewart Cink: Phenomenal record of Masters consistency. Not great recent form but you just can't rule him out.
3).Lee Westwood: Best player in the World when his short game is working. Will win if it is, great ball-striking record at The Masters and seemed inspired by his early visit to Augusta National.
2).Ernie Els: No-one is in better form, but does he want it too much? Don't like his switch of caddies.
1).Retief Goosen: Who knows how much Retief wants it? But he has a fabulous record here, has been in terrific form and may even crack a smile if he wins.
Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman and Angel Cabrera would all have been eliminated early in this process over the past three years so if you've backed Marc Leishman don't despair.
PS: Just a note about conditions: A heatwave will break Thursday with the potential for gusting winds and occasional storms. May interfere with afternoon play. Gorgeous Firday through Sunday.