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Evaluating The Top Ten Contenders For The Masters 2015

The Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia this week hosts the 79th Masters Tournament. Here we evaluate the chances of the world’s top ten players in claiming a green jacket.


The top ten players in the current Official World Golf Rankings are as follows:

Only two of the above top ten have worn the green jacket; Bubba Watson and Adam Scott, who have shared it between them since 2012.

1) Rory McIlroy – Current odds: 6/1 William Hill

Rory McIlroy

The burning question of the entire week: Can he do it?

Rory was approaching 3/1 for PGA Tour Events around a few months ago (Tiger in the early 2000’s territory). Ten months of nigh-on dominance leaves the Holywood man on the verge of a career Grand Slam.

An early start is crucial for Rory; first round 73’s in both The Honda Classic and Cadillac Championship ultimately kept him out of contention.

A win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and a second place in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship leaves him starting where he left off in 2014, dominating almost every golf course he comes into contact with.

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2) Henrik Stenson – Current odds: 22/1 Boylesports

Henrik Stenson och Jerringpriset 2013

Doesn’t have the best record here, a tie for 14th last year being his best return from nine events. This is in stark contrast to his sterling performances in the other three majors. Having to withdraw from the Shell Houston Open due to illness has raised doubts about Stenson’s wellbeing in time for his first round on Thursday.

In his favour, Henrik is second in GIR on tour thus far – a prerequisite to contend at Augusta.

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3) Bubba Watson – Current odds: 12/1 888Sport

Bubba Watson

The last player to defend the Masters title was none other than Tiger Woods in 2002. A WGC HSBC Champions win in Shanghai and two top threes in his last three outings indicates that Bubba possesses the form and confidence to pull of the feat that would place him alongside Nicklaus and Faldo.

The Floridian is second in both driving distance and scrambling on Tour; attributes that stand him in good stead as he aims to protect his most prized article of clothing.

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4) Jordan Spieth – Current odds: 11/1 Betfred

Jordan Spieth

Jordan has justified his lofty status as the second favourite with three victories in five months.

Other notable finishes:

  • Shell Houston Open – 2nd
  • Valero Texas Open – 2nd
  • Northern Trust Open – T4th

The Texan finished second in his Masters debut last year and is top in total putting this season.

Rarely has such a rollcall of credentials been evident this early on in the season. With the world at his feet, Speith will surely feature during Masters Sunday.

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5) Jason Day – Current odds: 16/1 Betfred

Jason Day

Our personal pick, he’s ninth in driving distance at 305 yards, second in putting average and finished off a strong West Coast with a win at Torrey Pines along with four other top tens. He should have fond memories of nearly winning here in 2011 and 2013.

With a third best on Tour 72.22% GIR percentage, Day will be well equipped to finally go one better at the Masters.

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6) Adam Scott – Current odds: 20/1 StanJames

Adam Scott Green Jacket

The transition from long to short putter is causing problems for the former Masters Champion. He has at least decided to go back to the broom handle for this week.

A T4 finish at the Cadillac Championship indicates that the form shown last year in winning the Crowne Plaza Invitational and having a superb ten top tens hasn’t completely deserted the Aussie.

Perhaps the three top eights in his last four appearances here will make him forget his woes.

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7) Dustin Johnson – Current odds: 18/1 888sport

dustin johnson

Since his much publicised layoff, DJ has blazed a trail in his comeback. A World Golf Championship win at Doral and two top fours has given him nine PGA Tour wins at the age of just 30.

A best finish of 13th implies that Dustin’s major credentials may well lie elsewhere – characterised by his best finishes in the other majors:

  • U.S. Open 2014 – T4th
  • The Open Championship – T2nd
  • PGA Championship – T5th

Augusta may not suit his eye, but the longest driver on Tour is also tenth in putting average. Such a level of depth in his game will pay dividends sooner rather than later.

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8) Sergio Garcia – Current odds: 45/1 Betfred

Sergio-Garcia-professional-golfer

Sergio finds himself unsually under the radar in the lead up to the year’s first major. Sixteen years removed from announcing his arrival with a duel against Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship, the Spaniard is in danger of gaining the most unwanted accolade in professional golf – the best player never to win a major.

Notable wins:

  • The Players Championship
  • HSBC Champions (now a WGC event)
  • Qatar Masters
  • Five Ryder Cup wins

With a far more stable looking putter nowadays, could Sergio break his duck by claiming the Masters? He hasn’t missed a cut on tour so far, so his new found consistency may well come into play.

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9) Jim Furyk – Current odds: 80/1 SkyBet

jim furyk

David Feherty once memorably described Furyk’s swing as “an octopus falling out of a tree”. The former U.S. Open winner hasn’t won since 2010, the year he won a cool $10m for claiming the FedEx Cup.

He remains as solid as ever – which is reflected in his stats this season:

  • Fifth and nineteenth in driving accuracy percentage and greens in regulation respectively
  • 2015 season thus far: three top 12’s with no missed cuts

Having finished in the top five in his last two majors, Jim is due a good showing at the Masters.

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10) Jimmy Walker – Current odds: 25/1 SkyBet

2015-03-30 10_36_29-Highlights _ Jimmy walker gets second victory of season at Valero Texas Open - Y

Two wins already this season, including the Valero Texas Open a few weeks ago for the Texas Ranger.

Notable stats:

  • Five top tens this season
  • Top man in birdie average on Tour
  • Leading the FedEx Cup

The affable Walker has won a staggering five tournaments in eighteen months, and this victory habit bodes well for his attempt to improve on his eighth place finish last year – his only Masters appearance thus far.

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Briefly moving from the top ten to the world 111th, a word on 50/1 shot Tiger Woods:

A good week for Tiger would be completing his tournament uninjured.                                                                             A great week for Tiger would be making the cut.

Tiger Woods will eventually be back. The last time he was fully healthy was in 2013 where he won five times and was justifiably awarded Player of the Year as a result. If he becomes fully fit again, he will contend at Augusta once more someday.

This week should be treated as preparation for the rest of the year, perhaps targeting 2016 as his true comeback.

 

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Author: Chris Kelleher

Student whose interests lie in sports ranging from Darts to MMA, with the likes of Golf, Boxing and Soccer in between. Closet wrestling fan and a lover of sports psychology and stiff jabs.