Who's Got the Best Shot to Win a Green Jacket This Year?
OK, that’s it. I’ve had enough. The Florida swing is supposed to clarify the Masters picture, but three weeks in, things are more muddled than ever. This always figured to be the most wide-open Masters of the 21st century, but who could have guessed that five former champions would have already won Tour events this year, or that the defending champ and his Big Three cohorts would look so vulnerable? Without further ado, here are 11 players who will, or won't, win the Masters. Note: Golf+ cannot be held liable for any money you lose in your office pool.
Why He’ll Win: The defending champion has already shown an uncanny ability to peak for the game’s most important moments. The mini-swoon he’s in guarantees Spieth will put in extra preparation for Augusta.
Why He Won’t: Is the pressure to follow up a monster 2015 getting in Spieth’s head ? Lately he’s been grouchy on the course, with his caddie and on social media. The Masters is not exactly a place to regain one’s equanimity.
Our Made-up Odds: 4-1
Why He’ll Win: He’s already done it twice, and this year he’s playing some of the best golf of his life. No course in championship golf so perfectly suits a player the way the National does Watson.
Why He Won’t: Because he’s still Bubba—mercurial and tempestuous. Being a heavy favorite won’t be good for his nerves.
Our Made-up Odds: 2-1
Why He’ll Win: After his victory at last week’s Valspar Championship, the U.S. golf media was trumpeting Schwartzel’s W as his first since taking the green jacket in 2011, which was silly given that this sweet swinger has two other worldwide wins since November. A period of injuries and ennui followed his Masters win, but Schwartzel is now healthy and motivated and playing with supreme confidence. Only a handful of players on the planet boast a comparable combination of power, touch and precision.
Why He Won’t: He is not even the best Enigmatic South African—that would be his hunting buddy Louis Oosthuizen. You gotta figure King Louie will nab a jacket before Charl scores a second.
Our Made-up Odds: 9-1
Why He’ll Win: Oosty has quietly become one of golf’s premier big-game hunters, finishing second at both of last summer’s Opens. Were it not for Bubba Watson’s absurd hook shot from the trees Oosthuizen would surely have prevailed in their playoff at the 2012 Masters.
Why He Won’t: Well, as noted above, the guy has made a habit of coming close but not winning. Does this laconic character want it enough?
Our Made-up Odds: 10-1
Why He’ll Win: The hottest player in golf has 15 top-10s in the majors but only one win, at Augusta in ’13. It’s clearly time for him to pick off another one.
Why He Won’t: Scott has putted superbly this year without his broomstick, but his confidence is still a work in progress and Augusta National has the scariest greens in golf.
Our Made-up Odds: 3-1
Why He’ll Win: He’s slowly figuring out how to play Augusta National, having gone 40th, 25th, eighth and fourth over the last four years. In 2015 he torched the final 45 holes in 15 under.
Why He Won’t: Seems like at every event McIlroy loses his concentration for nine holes, and at the Masters these wobbles have been fatal. Can he keep it together for four days? Shaky Sundays at L.A. and Doral don’t augur well.
Our Made-up Odds: 7-1
Why He’ll Win: No course inspires this emotional player like the Masters, where he has won three times and recorded a dozen other top 10s, including a T-2 last year. Phil the Thrill has been playing great golf, and if there’s one place where he’s likely to break through, it’s at the National.
Why He Won’t: His short putting has been shaky for years, and this year, at 45, he ranks 161st on Tour on holing six-footers.
Our Made-up Odds: 6-1
Why He’ll Win: With two top threes, the course is tailor-made for this TaylorMade bomber.
Why He Won’t: Day has been a non-factor in four starts this year, as he deals with the birth of a second child and the hangover from his breakthrough season. As good as he is, it’s tough to magically find your game at the Masters.
Our Made-up Odds: 8-1
Why He’ll Win: It’s the next logical step for this onetime boy wonder. With a fifth and a 12th at his last two Masters, the course clearly suits him.
Why He Won’t: Fowler had been looking unbeatable in crunch time for the past year but his collapse at Phoenix cut him deeply. Also, orange and green don’t look so good together.
Our Made-up Odds: 5-1
Why He’ll Win: Because all of us want to see the look on Tim Finchem’s face when he does. Also, the 53-year-old Hall of Famer has quietly been playing very well, including a tie for sixth at the Honda.
Why He Won’t: Without an anchored putter, it’s hard to imagine the 2000 champ can shake in enough putts.
Our Made-up Odds: 30-1
Why He’ll Win: The Masters is the domain of the biggest of the big, but every four to five years it produces a surprise winner. This Yorkshire terrier, now up to 11th in the World Ranking, would fit snugly alongside Mike Weir in ’03, Trevor Immelman in ’08, and Schwartzel in ‘11.
Why He Won’t: Think of all the Next Faldos England has produced. Is Willett going to be the one who breaks through?
Our Made-up Odds: 20-1