There’s something soothing about watching the Final Four on CBS/TBS and seeing a Masters ad pop up on my television screen. Jim Nantz’s calm voice tells us about the upcoming tournament and we find ourselves in a simpler time. Spring is here, baseball is back, and the best major of the year is finally among us, The Masters. The Masters is a long, storied tournament that takes place in Georgia at the beautiful Augusta National Golf Course, where a boat load of professional golfers come together in early April and compete to win the historic Masters trophy that comes with the honor of putting on a green jacket. This year, the field is packed with talented golfers and there are at least 10 guys that could come away with a major win come Sunday evening. This preview will feature 3 disappointing performances that you will see this weekend, 3 guys who will turn some heads and be in contention come Sunday and 5 guys who have a serious shot to win the whole thing. At the end of this preview article I will predict my winner for the 2018 Masters and if you are a betting man I would take this pick to Vegas because I have been pretty hot with my picks lately. We will start with 3 guys who will be a serious disappointment this upcoming weekend at Augusta and will have you questioning how they even qualified for this tournament.
Bubba Watson is the type of golfer that you want to win and find yourself rooting for harder than others. Sure he has his dirtbag moments, but for the most part Bubba is a fun loving guy who you want to see succeed in life. That being said, Watson is coming into the Masters Tournament playing some of the worst golf he has ever played in his career. He does not look like himself on the course, cannot hit a deep putt for his life, and I think this will transpire this weekend in Augusta. I see Bubba missing the cut and have him finishing the two days with a score somewhere in the realm of a 5 over. It will not be a good weekend for Watson and this will be one that he wants to forget.
Paul Casey is a 40 year old Englishmen who has yet to win a major and is running out of time. At one point in his career, Casey was ranked as high as three in the world and many thought he was one of the most dominant golfers on the planet. Casey is fresh off a tournament win at the Valspar Championships where he defeated Tiger Woods in thrilling fashion. Many think that Casey is playing some of his best golf right now and that will land him as a heavy favorite to win the Masters, but that is just not the case. I watched Casey during Saturday of the Valspar Championships and the dude looked horrendous. When he hits a bad shot he gets rattled and with a major tournament like The Masters, that just can not happen. I think Casey will shoot a decent round Thursday but then fall apart Friday and will not make the cut. You heard it here first.
This one might come as the most shocking, but it is really not that outlandish of a pick. The fact of the matter is, that Rory McIlroy has been the worlds most disappointing golfer over the last five years. After winning the PGA Championship and The Open Championship (both majors) in 2014, Rory was praised as being the next potential Tiger. The Northern Irishmen had all the tools to be dominant and had became seemingly must see TV. He then just kind of fell off the face of the earth. McIlroy who had potential to be one of the greats, fell apart and started to play awful golf. He couldn’t play in a major for his life and in a matter of years he had gone from world number one to an absolute zero. That being said, Rory still has athletic ability and I do think he will win another major before his career comes to an end. Rory is coming into The Masters feeling confident, as he is fresh off a win at Bay Hill just a few weeks ago. Many expect him to finish middle of the pack but I will be the first to tell you, that just won’t happen. Rory does not play Augusta National well and is particularly bad on the back 9. I have McIlroy shooting over par on both Thursday and Friday and do not see him making the cut this upcoming weekend.
Let me tell you guys something. If Corey Conners can figure out how to finish a tournament strong, he will win a major and win one very soon. I have been watching this Canadian golfer over the last few weekends and he has done more than impress me. He has a beautiful drive, an above average mid range game and a lethal short game. However there is just one minor problem. The dude cannot finish a tournament to save his life. Every single time I watch this guy, he comes into Sunday in either the lead or in the hunt and every single time he falls apart. It is infuriating because it is clear he is one of the most talented golfers on the tour right now, but he just lets the pressure get to him. If he can find a way to handle that pressure, watch out for Corey Conners because this dude can flat out golf and will be a major champion in the near future. *(It has come to my knowledge that Conners did not qualify for this years Masters tournament, but I’m keeping him in this article because I am a huge fan.)
It is safe to say that we all as golf fans want to see Lefty win another major. Mickelson has done so much for the game and he is probably the most rooted for golfers on the PGA Tour behind Tiger Woods. At the age of 47, it is clear that Lefty’s career is coming to an end but we would love to see the 5 time major champion win just one more on his way out. Is it possible that he wins this year’s Masters? I think so. Mickelson has been playing some tremendous golf lately and his short game has vintage Phil written all over it. I think the key coming into this weekend for Mickelson is handling the mid range game and to stay poised all 4 days and not get fatigued. Although I think Lefty will not win this weekend at Augusta, I would not be surprised to see him finishing somewhere in the top 10 and maybe even in the top 5.
I know what you guys are thinking, who in the blue hell is this guy. Well to know Jon Rahm you do have to consider yourself as a pretty invested golf fan. He is not the guy that is going to make the headlines or be the leading story of Sportscenter but let me tell you something, this guy is the dark horse to win The Masters this weekend. The 23 year old Spaniard is currently ranked as the third best golfer in the world and if you watch this guy on a daily basis, this ranking comes as no surprise. Rahm has this distinct ability to strike the ball that is nothing short of spectacular and has a short game that has been compared to vintage Tiger. I think if Rahm can stay in the hunt during the first two days of this tournament and can enter Sunday in the range of 3 to 4 strokes down, he will have the ability to claw his way back on the final day and we very well could be looking at our next green jacket winner.
Okay we have gone through the guys who are going to disappoint this weekend at Augusta, the guys who may surprise some people, but now it is time to get down to the nitty gritty. These are the 5 guys who I can almost guarantee will be in the hunt on Sunday and we will most likely see one of these guys wear the green jacket come Sunday. The first guy on this list comes by the name of Justin Rose. Justin Rose may be 37, but he has been playing the game he loves as of late like he is a young 25. Rose has been on fire lately and the winner of the Masters usually comes from a guy who is riding a lot of momentum. Rose has the ability to absolutely light up a score card and if he can manage his bogies, which he sometimes has trouble doing, he will have a serious chance to win this whole thing and is a guy you might want to put money on.
Oh DJ, my DJ is back at Augusta and is looking for vengeance. We all know the story, almost a year ago today, when preparing for his first major of the year and feeling the best he has ever felt in his career, Johnson fell down the stairs and due to those injuries, he had to withdraw from the 2017 Masters tournament. It came as a big blow and to golf fans, it seemed like a dagger had just been put right through their hearts. See, coming into the 2017 Masters, Johnson had won three straight tournaments and was the hottest man on the planet. Fans were eager to see him and some were ready to give him the green jacket before he even stepped on the course. That being said, DJ is back and is talented enough to take the title that so many thought was his just a year ago. I am a huge DJ fan and would love to see him get his redemption this weekend at Augusta.
Let’s be honest, Jordan Spieth is the face and future of golf. He is only 24 years old but is already a 3 time major champion. His game ranks comparison to the greats such as Nicklaus and Palmer and can putt like Player. Jordan Spieth is special and if you are not a fan, you are going to have to suck it up because this Texas boy has a lot of winning ahead of him. The one weak spot that people can pin point about Spieth’s game is that sometimes Jordan finds himself getting in his own way, and not being able to recover after one bad hole. He has blown a big time lead at the Masters due to this problem. With time however, this will get better and I do not see that being much of an issue for Spieth this weekend. I like him to have a top five finish and be in the final pairing on Sunday.
Justin Thomas in the past weeks has become perhaps the world’s most unlikeable golfer. Ever since he kicked a guy out of a tournament for yelling “get in the sand trap” AFTER he swung, the whole golf community has turned on this man. And I have to say, I am totally with them. Lighten up dude. You are making millions of dollars playing golf, how bad can your life really be? He also walks around with this smug, cocky look to him like he is better then everyone and I just can’t stand it. That being said, he is allowed to have that confidence because this guy is the best golfer in the world right now and is going to win the Masters. I hate to say it, but we are looking at our Masters champion. He is just on another level right now and if he plays his level of golf this weekend, he is going to run away with this thing and put on the green jacket with style.
HEEEEEEEEEESSSS BACCCCKKKKKKKKKK!!!! OH YES. Tiger Woods is back where he belongs, playing at Augusta and looking to cap one of the best comeback performances we have ever seen by a golfer in the history of the sport. After getting back fusion surgery in August of 2017, Woods has slowly worked his way back on the course and is starting to play like vintage Tiger, a character that can only be described as the greatest to ever play the game. Just a few weeks ago at the Valspar Championship in Florida, Woods finished in second place with a total score of – 9 on the tournament and finished just one stroke behind the champion Paul Casey. During that tournament, Tiger looked extremely well and made a PGA tour event that would usually be casually watching, must see TV. Now realistically can Tiger win the Masters this weekend? I don’t think so. But he will be in the hunt and when Tiger Woods is playing good golf it is good for the game, fun for the fans and an overall great experience. He is the one guy that I am most looking forward to watching this weekend and it’s not even a discussion.
2018 Masters Champion – Justin Thomas