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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the Masters

I specifically left Lydia Ko off my "5 to Watch" list last week, and she calmly went out and won the ANA Inspiration. She never had the solo lead until she finished the 72nd hole.

After that, you can only imagine how enthused I am to pick Masters favorites this week. But I suppose my second attempt to pick major winners can't be any worse than it was last week, can it?

Approach to the 2nd green at Augusta

Perhaps you'll view this as cowardice, but I have decided NOT to put Jason Day, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy on this list. Clearly this isn't because I don't think they can win, but simply because just about EVERYBODY picks one of these three to win. So I'm going to focus on the other potential winners...

And believe me, there are a lot of them. Even leaving Day, Spieth and McIlroy out, this is a tough one to pick. I agree with the folks who say this may be the most wide-open Masters we've seen in years.
  • Adam Scott gets the nod as my favorite this week. With two wins and a runner-up already this calendar year, he's proven that rumors of his putting problems have been greatly exaggerated. And with Steve Williams back on his bag this week, I think the magic may be a bit too much for the rest of the field.
  • While a number of folks are picking Rickie Fowler -- and I think he's playing well enough to win -- the fact remains that he has to avoid the handful of big numbers that he often finds at Augusta. I like his chances as long as he keeps the ball in play.
  • How can I do this list without including Phil Mickelson? Mickelson hasn't won yet this season but he has a second, a third and a fifth, and he's playing better than he has in years. He too has been plagued by occasional big numbers but if anybody can fix that at Augusta, it's Lefty.
  • I continue to believe in Louis Oosthuizen. He has a good history at Augusta and continues to play well. In fact, had the WGC-Dell Match Play only gone four rounds, he might have won that one as well.
  • Finally, my flier pick is Dustin Johnson. DJ has a third, a fourth and a fifth in his last four starts (the WGC-Cadillac was his worst with a T12). But here's the deal: The third and fourth came at Riviera and Golf Club of Houston, and the fifth at Austin Country Club -- all very tight, tricky tracks -- and in each of the two stroke play events he posted -13, which would have won 12 of the last 16 Masters. I'm going with the streaky guy!
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think this year's Masters is ripe for an upset winner. Regardless of what they say, the current Big3 have to be feeling some serious pressure to perform... and that could be a recipe for someone else to sneak in.

Just like Lydia did last week.

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