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Masters Champions Confidential: Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Ray Floyd join our roundtable

Arnold Palmer
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Arnold Palmer won four Masters Tournaments in seven years from 1958 to 1964.

In honor of Tuesday night's Champions Dinner, we convened a special Green Jacket Confidential roundtable of former Masters champions to talk about this year's tournament, make predictions and reveal their favorite Masters traditions. Special thanks to these gracious champions for their time. We hope you enjoy it.

1. Who is your pick to win this year’s Masters?

Billy Casper, 1970 Masters champion: Oh my gosh, I think it’s wide open this year. You have so many young players who are playing so well. It’s just a matter of if they have enough experience to win. Or is it going to be one of the older fellas who has been there a number of years. I think the tournament is as wide open as it’s ever been. Normally, Tiger or Phil would be the favorite because they have won there before. It’s hard to pick anyone right now. I just got a flash: Rory. How’s that?

Zach Johnson, 2007 Masters champion: If his wrist is healthy, I like Jason Day a lot. He has everything it takes to win at Augusta and has been close in the past.

Fuzzy Zoeller, 1979 Masters champion: Well it’s not going to be me or Hubert Green! The one great thing about the golf course is that it caters to the long ball hitter, more so now than ever because of the length of the golf course. But you’ve still got to look at your veterans. Phil has always played well there. Vijay will if he gets his putter going. I really can’t put one in front of the other. It depends on how the hell they putt. At Augusta, you can make a lot of birdies, but you can also make a lot of dreaded “others” that can take you out of the tournament.

Arnold Palmer, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964 Masters champion: I’ll be different: Chris Kirk. He would be my under-the-radar pick, too.

Sandy Lyle, 1988 Masters champion: The defending Champion: Adam Scott. He has the right game for Augusta. He knows how to do it and is playing well.

Raymond Floyd, 1976 Masters champion: I like a player who is on the climb. A player who is playing really well out in front of it. Look at the way the game has evolved. With Tiger not winning every week, who is the guy? It’s a different animal now.

Bernhard Langer, 1985 and 1993 Masters champion: I think I’m going to go with Jason Day. He’s my horse. He’s been close a few times, and I think he’s ready.

Ian Woosnam, 1991 Masters champion: Rory McIlroy. He draws the ball naturally, hits it high and is running into form.

Gary Player, 1961, 1974 and 1978 Masters champion: I have always felt that The Masters will usually produce a champion who has learned the hard way at Augusta before. There are a number of golfers who have a great chance at a green jacket this year. Obvious favorites are Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy, but I like the chances of Henrik Stenson, Jason Day and Phil Mickelson. Phil has won at Augusta three times before and certainly knows what it takes to excel at this great venue. He usually plays well at Augusta, so there is no counting him out for another green jacket.

Charl Schwartzel, 2011 Masters champion: Adam Scott. He is on good form and has recent positive thoughts of Augusta.

Mike Weir, 2003 Masters champion: Augusta National is a long, tough course that requires a lot of shot making ability. I like Rory McIlroy’s chances this year. He as all the tools required to win on a course like Augusta National, and he nearly did in 2011.

2. Who is an under-the-radar player that you think will play well this year at Augusta?

Player: I have been very impressed with how Dustin Johnson is playing so far this year. One of the longest hitters on Tour, Johnson has been fun to watch early this season with a number of Top 10 finishes. Dustin is also one of the fittest players on Tour, which certainly gives him an advantage. I am looking forward to seeing him best last year’s finish at the Masters, and I truly believe it will only be a matter of time until he captures his first major championship. I also had the pleasure to play a practice round with Branden Grace and George Coetzee last year. I must tell you that both of these young South African guys are real talents. Hopefully I was able to give them some tips during our practice round last year that pay off.

Langer: I think I’ll go with Jimmy Walker. He still flies under the radar even though he is playing great.

Weir: With the state of the game today the field is very strong so there are a lot of players that fly under the radar. I am excited that my fellow Canadian Graham DeLaet is playing in his first Masters tournament this year. Augusta National fits his game very well. He hits a long, high ball that will favor him on the par 5s. He also has a very good short game to back up his ball-striking ability.

Floyd: I don’t know how under the radar he is, but does anybody think about Angel Cabrera? He seems to play well there every year. Other than Angel, I’d pick one of the young guys. I really like Patrick Reed’s attitude.

Casper: I think Jimmy Walker is such a strong, good player. There are a lot of intricacies at Augusta. You don’t learn the golf course by playing a couple of practice rounds. Most of the time, the winners are guys who have played there quite a while. It’s normally a golf course you have to learn about.

Lyle: Keegan Bradley. He is starting to play well at the right time, and his putter seems to be ready to do some damage.

Woosnam: Patrick Reed or my fellow Welshman, Jamie Donaldson. He also has a nice, natural draw.

Zoeller: Without seeing the list, it’s hard to pull one name. But I’ll pull one out of the hat for you: Ernie Els.

Johnson: I would say Jimmy Walker, but he's not under the radar anymore. Other than that, a possible sleeper would be Graham DeLaet, who played great in the President's Cup.

Schwartzel: Thongchai Jaidee would be my dark horse pick.

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