Who Will Win the 82nd Masters? 16 Players Have a Real Chance PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno                                                                                                                          Posted 4/2/18 - 10:55 pm est.

Predicting any professional golf tournament can be futile, and major

championships can be downright impossible to prognosticate. The

Masters offers the rare exception because of the golf course and smaller



When we analyze the field of the 82nd Masters, there are likely less than

two dozen players with a realistic chance of wearing green when Sunday

evening rolls around. Out of the field of 87, we narrowed the likely 2018

Masters Champion to a select sweet 16. Negating 71 players in the field

can be tricky, but with past champions, amateurs and first timers - the

true contenders are just a fraction of the entire field. First, let's go through

the process of elimination.




Past Champions that still play but are no longer true contenders to

win whether it be because of age, length, inactivity or just being off form:


  • 1 - Jose Maria Olazabal
  • 2 - Bernhard Langer
  • 3 - Mike Weir
  • 4 - Angel Cabrera  (off form)
  • 5 - Sandy Lyle
  • 6 - Ian Woosnam
  • 7 - Fred Couples
  • 8 - Trevor Immelman
  • 9 - Larry Mize
  • 10 - Mark O’Meara
  • 11 - Vijay Singh
  • 12 - Danny Willet  (off form)




Active players who struggle at Augusta National due primarily

to length, or low ball flight :

  • 13 - Matt Kuchar
  • 14 - Brendan Grace
  • 15 - Brian Harman
  • 16 - Webb Simpson
  • 17 - Adam Hadwin
  • 18 - Brian Harman
  • 19 - Russell Henley
  • 20 - Kevin Kisner
  • 21Ryan Moore
  • 22 - Ted Potter, Jr.
  • 23 - Jason Dufner
  • 24 - Chez Reavie
  • 25 - Webb Simpson
  • 26 - Si Woo Kim
  • 27 - Cameron Smith





First Time Players to the Masters:

  • 28 - Tony Finau
  • 29 - Wesley Bryan
  • 30 - Austin Cook
  • 31 - Harry Ellis (a)
  • 32 - Dylan Frittelli
  • 33 - Doug Ghim (a)
  • 34 - Patton Kizzire
  • 35 - Satoshin Kodaira
  • 36 - Haotong Li
  • 37 - Yuxin Lin (a)
  • 38 - Yusaku Miyazato
  • 39 - Joaquin Niemann (a)
  • 40 - Matt Parziale (a)
  • 41 - Xander Schauffele
  • 42 - Shubhankar Sharma
  • 43 - Doc Redman



Past results or lack there of at Augusta:

  • 44 - Jhonattan Vegas
  • 45 - Tyrell Hatton
  • 46 - Yuta Ikeda
  • 47 - Martin Kaymer
  • 48 - Ian Poulter





Mid-Long Iron proximity at the Masters is essential, these players

have not been proficient in this category this season:

  • 49 - Ross Fisher
  • 50 - Billy Horschel
  • 51 - Francesco Molinari
  • 52 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat
  • 53 - Brendan Steele
  • 54 - Bernd Wiesberger
  • 55 - Matthew Fitzpatrick
  • 56 - Patrick Cantlay




After eliminating 55 players, that leaves 32. It gets way tougher from

here to narrow it down. After closer inspection of some of the games'

best known players, Augusta National doesn't fit everyone's game:

  • 57 - Pat Perez
  • 58 - Jimmy Walker
  • 59 - Kevin Chappel
  • 60 - Ian Poulter
  • 61 - Bryson DeChambeau
  • 62 - Gary Woodland
  • 63 - Henrik Stenson





That leaves 24. Any of these players normally would be considered

legit contenders, but it's time to eliminate eight of these elite based

on combined factors:


  • 64 - Rafa Cabrera-Bello (In two appearances at Masters - only has one round under par)
  • 65 - Adam Scott (199th strokes gained putting)
  • 66 - Louis Oosthuizen (182nd strokes gained putting)
  • 67 - Charley Hoffman (124th strokes gained putting)
  • 68 - Sergio Garcia (129th strokes gained putting, equipment switch)
  • 69 - Charl Schwartzel (117th strokes gained putting)
  • 70 - Thomas Pieters (116th strokes gained putting)
  • 71 - Alex Noren (missed cut at only Masters appearance)



Sergio is certainly worthy of defending, but we don't fancy his chances

to contend this year due to an extremely busy off-season in his personal

life, equipment changes through the bag and lackluster putting so far this






16 Players with the best chance to Win the 82nd Masters -

the players we like in order (thoughts):


  • 1 - Justin Rose (Best stats at Masters since '12, primed for "GREEN")
  • 2 - Rory McIlroy (Career slam/legend status awaits, putter is key)
  • 3 - Bubba Watson (Red hot, creative shot shaper)
  • 4 - Phil Mickelson (Hot putter could produce fourth jacket)
  • 5 - Justin Thomas (Playing as well as anyone in the world)
  • 6 - Jordan Spieth (Can he re-gain putter form, avoid water on 12th?)
  • 7 - Tiger Woods (Is he completely back? 15th major looks inevitable)
  • 8 - Tommy Fleetwood (Our darkhorse, supreme Euro ball striker)
  • 9 - Rickie Fowler (Hot starts, struggling on weekends)
  • 10 - Hideki Matsuyama (Japan's major?)
  • 11 - Jon Rahm (Will require patience, not his strength)
  • 12 - Patrick Reed (Can Captain America wear green?)
  • 13 - Mark Leishman (Next Aussie champ?)
  • 14 - Jason Day (New irons in the bag, hasn't played much in '18)
  • 15 - Paul Casey (Win at Valspar shows worthiness)
  • 16 - Dustin Johnson (huge talent, but isn't playing his best golf)





With so many storylines, this Masters has the makings to be an instant classic .

Woods returning to the game and showing signs that he may still have another

run at greatness, Mickelson coming off of a an impressive WGC win (and playing

better than he has in 5 years). Garcia defending. Bubba Watson with two wins

in 2018 looks ready for another Green Jacket. Can Spieth re-gain his putting

form in time for the back nine on Sunday? Perhaps the biggest story (that's

somewhat under the radar with all of the noise that Tiger's presence is creating),

is Rory McIlroy once again going for the career Grand Slam this week - fresh

off a big win and confidence boost from the phenomenal final round 64 at the

Arnold Palmer Invitational. Despite all of those great stories, Justin Rose is our

pick to get it done. Buckle up and enjoy the best week in sports, it's the Masters . . .












Poulter Earns Masters Birth with Houston Open Win PDF Print E-mail



Ian Poulter punched his ticket to Magnolia Lane with his win in Houston

Humble, Texas - Everybody knew the scenerio coming into the week,

Ian Poulter needed a win to get into the Masters. Having never won a

stroke play event in the states, it seemed like a longshot for Poulter to

get to Magnolia Lane. In fact, early in the week at the Golf Club of

Houston, the Englishman decided he needed a putter change to jump-

start his game. He summoned up the services of an old reliable flatstick

that served him well at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah. When asked

about the putter (an Odyssey #7), he simply said "I just know I can't

blame this putter, it has gotten the job done so many times before."


Standing on the 72nd hole facing a must make 20 foot birdie putt to

stay alive (and force a playoff with Beau Hossler), he summoned up

the magic with his old blade once again. As the ball dropped, Poulter

pounded his chest in celebration (as if to show the world how much

heart he has). Both Players finished tied at -19 at the end of regulation.


Ian Poulter celebrates after nailing the must make putt to tie in regulation.



In the playoff, Hossler drove into the right fairway bunker while Poulter

was safely in the first cut. Hossler blocked his approach into the right

greenside bunker, and Poulter reached the green safely some 30 feet

away. Beau Hossler flew his sand shot over the green into the water

hazard - and it was over just like that. Poulter two putted and shouted

in exaltation as the winner of the Houston Open. It was his first victory

since the 2012 HSBC Champions, and his first in the U.S since the 2010

Match Play at Dove Mountain.


After starting Thursday with a 73, Poulter was packed to head home to

Orlando on Friday. After a bounce back 64 in round 2, the desperate

42 year old shot 65 -67 to get the job done - realizing suddenly that he

had just accomplished the unthinkable. "Last week was painful," Poulter

said. "To come here this week, I was tired, I was frustrated on Thursday.

I was patient. I waited my time, and this is amazing."

Jordan Spieth (66) tied for third with Emiliano Grillo (68) at 16 under par.














Bubba Primed for Augusta, Wins WGC Dell Match Play PDF Print E-mail



Bubba Watson Celebrates after winning the WGC Dell Match Play

Austin, Texas - Bubba Watson has found his groove just in time. After

capturing his tenth career PGA Tour victory earlier this year at Riviera,

Watson has begun his quest for a third Green Jacket at Augusta (and

a spot on Team USA for some matches over in France later this fall).


After defeating World No.2 Justin Thomas (who had an opportunity to

surpass Dustin Johnson in the Official World Golf Rankings with a win)

in the one of the semi-finals, he went on and routed Kevin Kisner in the

final 7&6.


Kisner looked completely spent before he even hit a shot in the match,

likely because his semi-final with Alex Noren was an epic back and forth

affair that was knotted after 18 holes. On the first extra hole, Noren

blinked first - botching an eagle putt from just off the green which led

to a 3 putt disaster. Kisner nailed his four footer for birdie and the win

to reach the final with Watson. Nothing went right for Kisner in the final,

Watson had him 7 down after ten holes.


Presently Bubba Watson has two golf goals, another run at a Green Jacket

and that match in France this fall. He made sure in his post round press

conference that the Ryder Cup Captain knew of his intentions "I hope Jim

Furyk is watching because I really want to play in France."

It's looking pretty certain that Bubba will be in France, the bigger question

is who will stop him from slipping on his third Green Jacket at Augusta



Alex Noren went on to defeat Justin Thomas in the consolation match 3&2.













Rory Dominates, Fires Final Round 64 at Arnold Palmer Invitational PDF Print E-mail


March 18, 8:07 pm est

Rory celebrates at Bayhill after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Windermere, Florida - Sometimes it all clicks at once, for Rory McIlroy

this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, it was the perfect storm.

(Full disclosure - last week I actually picked Rory in my Fantasy Golf

League after speaking with him at Innisbrook during his pre-tournament

press conference at the Valspar Championship, he just seemed primed

to win. As it turns out, I was a week early on my prognostication, but

honestly, I saw a breakthrough coming.) After birdieing 5 of the last 6

holes, McIlroy's final round 64 was good enough for a 3 shot margin of

victory at 18 under par on The King's firm and fast Bayhill layout.


It was a week where Rory, (who last won on the PGA Tour at East Lake

on Sept.25th, 2016 - the same day that Arnold Palmer passed away),

led the field in virtually every statistical category including putting. When

McIlroy drained his putt for birdie at the last, it was his 100th putt of

the week, by far his best putting performance total of his career. Just

last week in Jupiter at the Bear's Club, McIlroy worked with Brad Faxon

on the mental side of putting. Faxon suggested he be more reactionary

and not to get caught up in being so precise. As McIlroy said "It was

more of a realization that I don't need to be so perfect to make putts.

Hopefully this is the kick-start of something special."


"Honestly I thought if I shot 67, I would have had a good chance, and that

obviously would have been nearly good enough," McIlroy said. "I went out

with the mindset of being patient, I was even par thru 5 holes and four

behind Henrik at that point. I hit it into the bunker off the tee on 6, then

from there I played a perfect round of golf - I basically gave myself birdie

chances on every hole. I executed shots the way I wanted to when I needed

to, shooting 64 in those conditions out there with it being firm and fast,

to get in the winners circle again - it feels really good."


Bryson DeChambeau finished second at 15 under par (68). Justin Rose was

third at -14 (after a 69). 54 hole leader Henrik Stenson finished solo fourth

at 13 under par (71). Tiger Woods (69) after getting to within a shot of the

lead walking off the 15th green, struggled coming in - finishing tied for fifth

with Ryan Moore at -10.

















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