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The Masters: Expert Picks

A very talented field this year

PGA: The Masters - Final Round Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Some of these picks may surprise you. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not aiming to provide an article where I select Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth for every tournament. I aim to find good value and the right golfer for the right tournament. After I dug into some recent Masters stats I was a bit surprised in the list of golfers that I ended up with. A course like Augusta can be challenging such that I trust a history of success here over recent success on the tour. This year should be a blast though, names like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are in serious competition with the ‘up and coming’ names of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Throw in some Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy as well as past winners like Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson and this is a very spread out field. Will we see a repeat winner or will we see a new winner (as we have the last 2 years here) names like Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm or Hideki Matsuyama?

Tournament Information

The Masters

Date: April 5th – 8th

Course: Augusta National Golf Club

Purse: $11MM ($1.9MM to winner)

FedEx points: 600 to winner

2017 Winner: Sergio Garcia (-9)

Course

Augusta National Golf Club. Amen Corner (11th , 12th and 13th holes), Rae’s Creek, Ike’s Pond, so many fun features to a bucolic and scenic course. As most of you know the greens are lightning quick and yet the rough is not so rough but instead a slightly longer growing fairway. Potentially the most famous American course, it always leads to a wonderful week of golf.

Starting 4

Jordan Spieth. This one is a must, he is, arguably, the best golfer at Augusta over the last 5 years. 2ndin 2014, 1st in 2015, 2nd in 2016 and 11th in 2017. Jordan is 4th in OWGR, 3rd in strokes gained tee to green, 17th in total strokes gained. This season he has 5 top 15 finishes and 1 missed cut across ten total tournaments inclusive of a solid 3rd place finish at the Houston Open last week.

Paul Casey. Fun fact – Paul Casey is the ONLY golfer to post inside the top ten at The Masters each of the last 3 years. 10th in Fedex Cup Rankings, 13th in OWGR, top 15 finishes in 4 of his last 6 tournaments and no missed cuts this season. He’s 2nd in strokes gained tee to green and 5th in total strokes gained.

Hideki Matsuyama. Hard for me to fathom the fact that this is my first time picking him this year. His last 3 years here have resulted in a 5th place (2014, 7th place 2016 and 11th place (2017). This is a high risk, high reward, after an excellent start to the season his last 3 tournaments were a withdraw from the Waste Management with a wrist injury followed by a 49th place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a 36th place finish at WGC Dell Technologies Match Play.

Justin Rose – Top 25 finishes each of the last 5 years here, top 15 finishes each of the last 4 years here, top 12 finishes each of the last 3 years here. 7th in the Fedex Cup Ranking, 5th in OWGR, 10th in total strokes gained, 13th in strokes gained putting (we shall see this plays out at Augusta), no missed cuts this season and 5 top 10 finishes.

Bench 2

Rory McIlroy. Justin Rose and Rory are linked at the Masters, both tied for a 25th place finish in 2013, both have finished in the top 15 each of the last 4 years and inside the top 15 each of the last 3 years. 7th in OWGR, 19th in total strokes gained and recent winner (Arnold Palmer Invitational) Rory SHOULD be solid, he sits on my bench because I feel safer with Justin Rose than Rory.

Charley Hoffman. Yelling it from the mountain tops. If I convey nothing else in this article, Rodney Dangerfield put it best. “Hey, I get no respect”. Charley Hoffman, the same player who has finished in the top 30 each of the last three years here, the same player who is in the top 30 in OWGR right now, the same player with five top 20 finishes this year and only two missed cuts among 12 starts (ignoring the AT&T Pebble Beach withdraw due to back pains), the same player made the cut in 24 of 31 tournaments last year landing inside the top 25 in 14 times and the top ten in 7 times. He doesn’t win often but he is a safe bet for a top 20 or 30 finish in most of the tournaments he plays in.

Because this is the Masters, a few other strong candidates…

10 players with a history of success at Augusta

Phil Mickelson – Among these players Phil has won here and is playing well now, he was my next choice after the ones above.

Jason Day

Rickie Fowler

Matt Kuchar

Henrik Stenson

Jimmy Walker

Ian Poulter

Louis Oosthuizen

Russell Henley

Adam Scott

10 players who are having a strong season

Patrick Cantlay

Justin Thomas

Patton Kizzire

Bubba Watson

Tony Finau

Phil Mickelson

Brendan Steele

Brian Harman

Pat Perez

Alex Noren – among all of these players, Alex stands out as someone who could make a strong push this week at Augusta.