The Masters is back in its regular time slot and that means a harder, faster Augusta National than the one we saw in November. Still, the usual suspects once again rise to the top of the betting sheets. It isn’t too often that a surprise wins at the Masters, with only two of the last 15 winners sitting outside the top 30 in the world ranking starting the week.
With that, here are some golfers with a good chance to slip on the Green Jacket on Monday.
While he hasn’t been in top form of late in terms of finishes – he’s been T54, T48, and T28 in his last three starts – Johnson’s game can still start to shine at any moment. When he plays his best, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer can beat pretty much anyone and has done that for much of the last year. He’s been inside the top 10 in his last five Masters starts.
Won the Players Championship to end a mini-slump that had more to do with non-golf issues than those on the course. He’s continually improved each year at the Masters after a tie for 39th in his debut in 2016. Last year, he was the co-leader after 36 holes and ended the week tied for sixth in Greens in Regulation and tied for 10th in Putting.
Coming off a win and a tie for third in his last two events, DeChambeau appears to be better prepared to try and bring Augusta National to its knees. He’s slimmed down somewhat while still maintaining his muscle, and plans to still take some aggressive lines off the tees to set up short irons into pretty much every hole. That was the game plan last year but it failed miserably and he said that he analyzed the problems and hopes to be on a better track this year.
Worth The Risk
Climbed out of a four-year slump with a victory at the Valero Texas Open, the 12th of his career. It’s no secret that Spieth loves playing Augusta National. In addition to a win and two runner-up finishes, he has the lowest score to par in the Masters since 2014 at 43 under par. By his own admission his driver still needs some work but his putter has been pure for the last six weeks. He comes into the tournament as confident as he has been in some time.
While he will never be the most popular winner at the Masters, Reed is still a legitimate threat to win a second Green Jacket. His play this year has been solid and a five-shot win at Torrey Pines shows his firepower, even if it was overshadowed by the embedded ball controversy. Putting is always a good asset at Augusta National and Reed is the top-ranked golfer in Strokes Gained: Putting on the PGA Tour.
He comes into Augusta after missing the event last year due to a positive COVID test. He’s had top-10s in his last two starts along with a win at Sanderson Farms in October. Garcia is an excellent ball-striker, ranking second in SG: Off The Tee and 10th in SG: Tee to Green. But his weak link is and has always been his putter where he sits 190th. If he can shore that up then he may be a worthwhile pick.
Watch Out For
No one knew if Koepka was going to show for the Masters until he arrived on the range on Monday. A knee procedure 19 days earlier was apparently somewhat less drastic than rumours made it out to be. While he pronounced himself fit and said he wouldn’t have played unless he felt he could win, Koepka hasn’t teed it up in over a month. Still, when it comes to the Masters, his record is strong. His last three finishes were T7, T2, and T11.
Comes into the Masters with a string of good finishes – T5, T11, T10 and T9 in his last four starts. His best finish at Augusta National is a tie for seventh back in 2016. Last year, he ended up T46 but missed the cut in the other two majors. An exceptionally hard worker, he has added some distance in the last year although he is still far from a bomber. His putting has been hot this season and should be an asset this week.
Playing in his fourth Masters, Conners has become one of the game’s best ball-strikers, sitting 10th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 13th in SG: Approach the Green. His putter, which has been hot and cold, has improved immensely this year going from 181st last year to 74th this season. One of the smartest thinkers in the game, he will take a solid game plan into Augusta National and use some of the advice gleaned from practice rounds with Mike Weir to try and become the second Canadian to win the Green Jacket.