Golf’s first major, the 80th edition of the Masters. The Green Jacket is on line this week at Augusta National Golf Course. The Masters is considered the most prestigious tournament on tour and 89 players are suiting up to get their shot at the Green Jacket. This year’s field includes perennial favorites like Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson. Unfortunately it is missing a few big names, as well with the absences of golf’s most famous personality Tiger Woods due to his back surgery a few months ago. This year’s tournament is an interesting one because there is no definitive favorite. Last year, Jordan Spieth was on a hot streak coming into the Masters, and it continued as he set record after record to take home the crown with an outstanding score of -18. This year the field is tight with a lot of possible winners, so I’ll try to clear that up for you and give you the favorites and some sleeper picks.
Jordan Spieth can never be counted out of a golf tournament. His play has been subpar of late, but with his friend and caddy, Michael Greller on the bag, Spieth is definitely a threat to claim his second Green Jacket in as many years. Last week at the Shell Houston Open, we saw flashes of the putting that led Spieth to win the first two majors in 2015, so what’s saying he can’t do it again?
Although having one of the purest swings on tour, the Green Jacket has eluded Rory McIlroy in the past. This year it could be different, as the golfer from Northern Ireland is locked in on completing the career Grand Slam. Troubles on the back nine in the last round have haunted McIlroy in years past, but we have seen the type of talent he brings to the golf course. With his skill and focus this week, he might finally capture what he’s been striving for.
Old Lefty is back at it again. One of the most notable and entertaining players on tour, Mickelson comes into the Masters after finishing second place last year to Spieth, shooting a score of -14. Any other year that score might have been good enough to grab the Green Jacket. This year it’s more of the same for Lefty. So long as he can channel what he brought to last year’s Masters by staying consistent with the driver along with making some putts, Phil has a great chance.
After struggling mightily at the Masters last year, shooting two over par rounds on both Friday and Sunday, Day is looking for a bounce back performance at Augusta. Day is arguably the hottest golfer on tour right now, winning two tournaments this year and finishing top ten three times. Day will look to take his consistent play on to Augusta and win his first Masters.
Adam Scott is the last favorite in the field for me. He’s another Aussie who has won two tournaments this year already, and is the leader in the Fed-Ex Cup standings. Scott, who last won the tournament in 2013, is very comfortable at Augusta and with experienced caddie Stevie Williams on the bag, Scott is poised to win another Green Jacket and continue his hot start to this season.
Louis Oosthuizen, the South African golfer, is an experienced major player and coming off of getting cut at last week’s Shell Houston Open Louis, is prepared to surprise some people. Known around the tour as a consistent player, Louis finished runner up in 2 major’s last year, so this season the hunt continues for his second major championship. If Louis’ putter gets hot and he continues to strike the ball like he has all season, his odds are pretty good for a top ten place finish, and maybe a chance at the title.
Bill Haas is one of the most consistent players on tour. He has finished in the top ten four times so far in the 2016 season. Haas’ consistency translates to Augusta where he has finished in the top 20 in the last three Masters. If he can stay in the mix and the leaders falter somehow, Haas could be right in the mix come Saturday and Sunday.
Brooks Koepka, the 18th ranked golfer in the world, is trending in the right directions in Major Championships. Koepka has the ability to hit the ball a long way, giving him shorter shots into the green and allowing himself a lot of looks at birdie. He has one of the highest green in regulation rates in golf, so if he can keep this going and give himself a ton of looks at birdie, he has a chance to put up some low number at this year’s tournament.
This year’s Masters is set for some entertaining golf, with a winning score likely to be in the double digits. Look for the favorites to try and get a quick start on Thursday and Friday and put themselves in a good position to claim the Green Jacket on Sunday afternoon.