Tiger’s in Florida recuperating from a horrific car crash, Brooksie, who had knee surgery 19 days ago, has a touchy wheel and Jon Rahm has been preoccupied with his wife delivering a baby…
Initially, I had Koepka and Rahm in my top five to make a serious run at the Green Jacket this year.
Not anymore…A bit too many distractions for both, I think.
Here are my Top 5 Picks:
When you set the 72-hole scoring record of 20 under in the November 2020 Masters, the lowest score to par in the history of the tournament, just about everybody is going to pick you to repeat. Really, the only thing that can stop this golf machine with Gumby-like flexibility is another slip on the stairs or a bad putting week. D.J. has only played in seven events this year so he should be well rested and fresh for a run at back-to-back Green Jackets. While his 2021 PGA Tour stats haven’t been all that great, Johnson put on a spectacular show of power and finesse in February when he shot -15 under to capture the Saudi International. He’s primed to repeat at Augusta National and I’ll be surprised if he’s not in the final group on Sunday, as he is also one of the main favorites according the odds to win the tournament.
Somebody get this guy an apparel endorsement NOW. Except for his lost clothing deal with Polo Ralph Lauren, J.T. is having an epic year. In his impressive victory at THE PLAYERS he displayed all the skill and mental toughness required to win big events, especially Majors. (While THE PLAYERS isn’t considered a Major, it has the deepest field in golf.) He’s the leading money winner, second in scoring average, T2 in top-10s, first in birdies and he hasn’t missed a cut in all 10 of the events he’s played in. Thomas, winner of the 2017 PGA Championship, is extremely knowledgeable about the history of the game (thanks to his PGA Club Pro dad) and he knows a Green Jacket is a must to elevate his status as one of the best, if not the best, players of his generation.
DeChambeau is so much more than a bulked up bomber off the tee. Believe it or not, he’s only averaging one yard more (320.77) than Rory (319.13) and some guy named Wyndham Clark (319.38). DeChambeau’s strength advantage comes from his out-of-this-world play out of the rough and ability to deliver key shots and putts. His confidence is soaring with a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and 3rd place finish at THE PLAYERS Championship. Everybody was picking DeChambeau at the November Masters last year but he finished a disappointing T34. He’s a cautionary favorite as his best finish is T21 in 2016. Gotta feeling he’s been engrossed in all of his physics books and Augusta National course guides and is plotting a new strategy this year. If he wins, it’s protein shakes for everybody.
Morikawa doesn’t seem to get rattled by anything and, I believe, he’s got the perfect mindset to win multiple majors. He’s already got one major on his resume, the 2020 PGA Championship, a WGC victory (Workday Championship at the Concession in February) and four PGA Tour wins total. What’s most impressive about the 24-year old Morikawa isn’t the least bit intimidated by any of the other players or courses. In fact, he won the 2020 PGA Championship to win a major in only his second major championship start and he began his career in 2018 with 22 consecutive made cuts.
Yes, I’m gonna go there. I think Spieth’s revived game and attitude has him primed to flush out the demons at Augusta National. Fresh off his Valero Texas Open victory, Spieth’s game is finally returning to form. He has four top-10s in 13 events this year and looks like he’s finally recovering from a three year malaise. Spieth loves playing the Masters and his run from 2014 to 2018 was spectacular (T2, 1, T2, T11, 3). If that Spieth shows up, he’ll be in one of the final two groups on Sunday.
Others to Watch:
This dude is a flat-out birdie machine and you need lots of birdies and eagles on the back nine on Sunday. If he’s in the hunt going into the final day, Xander could pull it off. He finished T2 in 2019 and led the field with 25 birdies. He’s playing well, too, with five Top 10 finishes this year, a 5th place ranking in birdies and 11th place in eagles. Most important, Xander plays well in the Majors. He was 5th at 2021 U.S. Open, T10 at 2020 PGA Championship, T3 at 2019 U.S. Open and T2 at the 2018 Open Championship.
Controversy follows Reed where ever he goes, but one thing never changes, the hoss can’t flat out putt. He’s number one in putting on Tour so he’s always at threat at Augusta National where mastery of the greens is imperative. Plus, he’s already proven he can do it with a Masters win in 2018.
With the best mullet haircut on the PGA Tour, Smith gets overlooked as a possible contender, but he’s definitely not a pretender. At the November Masters 2020 he became the first golfer in the 84-year history of the Masters to shoot four rounds in the 60s. Amazingly he still lost by 5 strokes to D.J. for a T2 finish. For mullet fans everywhere, Smith, who also had a T5 in the 2018 Masters, has to be your no. 1 choice to win the 2021 Masters.
Coming from a country known for snow skiers, not world-class golfers, Hovland has amazing game. He became the first Norwegian to win on the PGA Tour when he won the 2020 Puerto Rico Open. He shot -3 and won the Low Amateur at the 2019 Masters. Hovland is another one of these youngsters that doesn’t seem to be in awe of anything on the Tour.
I’m predicting Finau will finish solidly in second place. Nah, just kidding. Finau has the game to win the Masters and is universally considered to be one of the great guys on Tour. I hope if he gets in contention this year that he can finish the deal.
Cantlay is the ultimate under-the-radar guy. He has serious game, but always gets limited pub for some reason He’s sixth on the money list and has three PGA Tour wins. He was in the mix in the 2019 Masters finishing T-9 and has the all-around game to do well at Augusta National.
The 47-year old Westy has somehow found the Fountain of Youth and the rest of us want some of what he’s been drinking. His performances at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS were phenomenal. Westy has a stunning record at the Majors – 19 top-10 finishes, six of those in the top three but still without a win. With his sky high confidence, don’t be surprised if he shows up on the final two or three groups on Sunday.
Rahm is a huge question mark. His wife gave birth on Sunday before Masters Week. Even if he plays, could he really be totally focused? We’re talking about needing some epic compartmentalization. I’m not seeing it.
Rors has a new swing coach and he seems to be doing too much tinkering on his swing leading into the Masters. I mean, he banana balled a drive into a swimming pool at the the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin so I’m not sure what to expect from him at Augusta National. If Rory is putting well, you never know what can happen even if he misses lots of fairways.
He always seems to be in the mix. You can discount him if you want because he hasn’t been on many leaderboards recently, but the non-conformist Watson has had some great success amid the azaleas and dogwoods. A two-time Masters Champion (2012 and 2014), Bubba finished T12 in 2019 and T5 in 2018. Problem is, Watson hasn’t really been lighting it up this year. He’s 81st on the money list with only two top-10s, however, he has made the cut in in all 9 events entered.
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