10 Who Could Go All the Way
On the condition of anonymity, a PGA Tour pro ranks, in ascending order, the top 10 contenders to win the Masters. (Bet you'll never guess who he thinks will end up wearing the green jacket)
10. DAVIS LOVE III
WORLD RANK 16th
WORLDWIDE WINS 20
Davis has had some nagging injuries, but he's in good shape now. He has trained harder with Randy Myers than I've ever seen him train before, and at his age (42) that says something about his drive.... He's not as a good as he was 10 years ago, but he still hits the ball as well as anybody, and when his driver gets going, he's fantastic.... He can think his way around the course.... The rankings don't lie-Davis is still the fifth-best American.
FINAL FORE He could be the Fred Couples of this year's Masters.
2 of 10Robert Beck/SI
9. CHARLES HOWELL
WORLD RANK 15th
WORLDWIDE WINS 2
I heard he spent extra time working on chipping and putting in the off-season, and I believe it. He looks more sure of himself. Before, he seemed tentative over putts. Now he's more free-flowing. It looks as if he finally has a short game to go with his long game.
FINAL FORE It can be a negative playing at home, but at least Charles won't be bothered about leaving extra tickets for friends you get only eight at the Masters no matter who you are.
3 of 10David Walberg/SI
8. PAUL CASEY
WORLD RANK 14th
WORLDWIDE WINS 8
Paul is an amazing athlete. He once had a contest with Phil Mickelson to see who could throw a ball onto the 7th green at Pebble Beach, from about 100 yards. Paul tossed it on with ease. Phil barely got it to the front bunker.... At 29 he's the best bet to be the first Englishman since Nick Faldo to don the green jacket.
FINAL FORE Casey's swing looks like a machine model, and he has just the right blend of arrogance and cockiness.
4 of 10Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
7. TOM WATSON
WORLD RANK N/A
WORLDWIDE WINS 51
Wow, you say, how can I possibly put Tom on my short list? Here's how: He mixed it up pretty well with the young guys this year at Pebble Beach, hanging in there until Sunday impressive stuff for a 57-year-old.... I admit Tom is a sleeper pick, but I think it's possible for a senior pro to win a major. Tom hits the ball as well as ever, and the pressure isn't going to bother him.... Sure, Tom has a lot of scar tissue in his stroke, but if he can get the putter going, it would be great for golf.
FINAL FORE I'm way out on a limb here, but if Watson pulls this off, it would top Jack in '86.
5 of 10Fred Vuich/SI
6. JIM FURYK
>WORLD RANK 2nd
WORLDWIDE WINS 15
I don't understand why he doesn't get more attention for being the No. 2-ranked player, unless it's because of his unique swing. Quite simply, he's one of the best players in the world. He's a hard worker; he's fit; and he's so driven and focused that he almost has a Ben Hogan-like demeanor on the course. It's as if he's in a trance out there.... If you rated players by their combined chipping and putting skills, Jim is right up there with anyone in the game.
FINAL FORE Now that there's more of a premium on driving accuracy, he's never had a better shot at a green jacket.
6 of 10David Walberg/SI
5. HENRIK STENSON
WORLD RANK 5th
WORLDWIDE WINS 9
My man Henrik is scary good, and the whole world is about to find out. He's a big, strong guy who can hit it miles. He's pretty quiet on the course, and nobody knows much about him, although one of my relatives went to his wedding ... Henrik hits a big draw, and hasn't that always been the shot shape you're supposed to use at Augusta? The correct answer: Yes ... I like his swing. His left shoulder doesn't move a whole lot. He simply sort of hangs there and pow!
FINAL FORE Sooner or later he's going to be the first Swede to win a major not counting Annika Sorenstam, of course.
7 of 10Darren Carroll/SI
4. GEOFF OGILVY
WORLD RANK 7th
WORLDWIDE WINS 3
Geoff really proved himself at Winged Foot last year, although without the help of Phil and Monty we might not have noticed. He also has an amazing 11-1 record in the Accenture Match Play.... He's adequately long and a great putter.... His biggest strength is that he accepts all shots, good or bad.
FINAL FORE Geoff is a sleeping giant a little bit like Ernie Els who seems to wake up in time for the big events.
8 of 10David Walberg/SI
3. PHIL MICKELSON
WORLD RANK 3rd
WORLDWIDE WINS 31
It's awfully easy to pick Phil, since he's won two of the last three Masters. I like the way he's turned it up in the majors the last three years. He has definitely hit on something in his approach, and it's more than the whole two-driver thing.... Phil is super long, hits it very high, and when he putts well, he putts as well as anyone.... I have no doubt that what happened to Phil at Winged Foot on the 72nd hole won't be on his mind when he's on the back nine at Augusta.
FINAL FORE It has to be easier to win your third Masters than your first. I only wish I knew from personal experience.
9 of 10Robert Beck/SI
2. TIGER WOODS
WORLD RANK 1st
WORLDWIDE WINS 65
No matter how he's playing, Tiger is the game's best player by a mile. He can win when he doesn't have his A game, and he can destroy you when he does.... The only thing that remotely resembles an Achilles' heel is his driving. Augusta is now more of a driving course, and that makes it a little tougher for him.... Tiger has to be on with his putter. If you're not putting well, you're not going to win, even if you're Tiger Woods.
FINAL FORE He expects to win. We expect him to win. It'll be an upset if he isn't in one of the last groups on Sunday.
10 of 10Darren Carroll/SI
And the Winner is ...
1. AARON BADDELEY
WORLD RANK 32nd
WORLDWIDE WINS 5
Yes, Aaron Baddeley. What, you want me to say it again? I played with Aaron this year, and his game has improved a lot. He has become an unbelievably long hitter, and his driving accuracy, which could've been the weakest part of his game, has become a strength.... Aaron has matured remarkably. In some ways he's an old 26. He won his national championship, the Australian Open, twice as a teenager. He was pretty convincing at the FBR Open this year and at Harbour Town last year.... Aaron can hit it Nicklaus-high. Think that'll come in handy on Augusta's firm greens? ... He has always been a very good putter, living off the club for years while he worked to build a better swing.
FINAL FORE This pick is more than a hunch. I believe Aaron is on the verge of becoming a great player.
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