Photo Credit: ThoughtCo
The greatest week of the year has finally arrived. From the rich golf history to the amazing Masters traditions to the beautiful magnolias and Georgia pine, this week is glorious. There’s nothing like the sweet sound of Jim Nanz’s voice while you’re on your couch watching the greatest golfers in the world try to navigate the most amazing golf course ever made. In addition, the competition this year will be incredible. This year’s field is one of the most stacked in recent memory, and the storylines out there are incredible. From Tiger’s quest to win his first major since 2008 to Rory’s shot at the grand-slam, there is no shortage of drama this year.
Rory McIlroy is currently the heavy favorite to win at +600 followed by Dustin Johnson at +900 and world #1 Justin Rose at +1200. Below are my picks, and for anyone who isn’t familiar with my system here is how it works. The first column shows the top 10 players that I think have the best chance to win (in order) with the player in the top spot being my official pick to win. In the second column, I have my dark horses (players with +3500 odds to win or worse) and they are also in order. The third column shows my bust picks (players I think will have a very bad week, often times elite level guys who many people are betting on). The fourth column shows a few more guys that I think should have a solid week, but guys that I don’t think have a great chance to win (typically expect these guys to finish somewhere in the 10th-30th range). The final column shows my prediction for the winning score. Anyone who is not seen on this list I am neutral on meaning I wouldn’t bet on them but I also am not seeking them out to bet against.
- Kevin Kisner: I love Kisner as a dark horse this week. Kisner has finished in the top 30 in all of his last six starts, and he also just picked up the biggest win of his career at the WGC Dell Matchplay. Though his lack of length off the tee puts him at a disadvantage at Augusta, his ability to read greens and putt should give him a huge advantage on Augusta’s crazy greens. Kisner is currently listed at +6600 to win the tournament making him a great value pick.
- Charley Hoffman: Hoffman has always been able to find success on Thursday and Friday at the Masters, but whenever he gets to the weekend he seems to fall short of putting himself in a position to contend. I think that could change this year. Hoffman finished 2nd last week at the Valero Texas Open and finished a solid T18 at the Valspar a few weeks ago. His game is in good form, and at +9000 he is a great look at a major payday.
- Patrick Cantlay: The world ranked #21 player has been struggling as of late. He failed to make it out of the group stage at the Dell Matchplay two weeks ago and missed the cut at the Players in mid-March. In addition, the 27 year old’s best finish ever at the Masters is T47 back in 2012. Bet against Cantlay this week.
- Patrick Reed: It’s not often that I put a defending champion on this list, but Reed is deserving of it. In his last three starts, Reed has failed to make it out of the group stage at Dell Matchplay, missed the cut at the Valspar, and finished T47 at the Players. Reed also has been dancing around with new swing coaches lately and currently has zero control of his game. I expect a first-to-worst scenario this week for Patty Reed.
- Xander Schauffele: The world ranked #10 player and 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is in bad form right now. He didn’t make it past the group stage at the Dell Matchplay and missed the cut at the Players. In addition, his game doesn’t exactly fit the Augusta track. Schauffele is 73rd on tour this year in strokes gained around the green and 115th in driving accuracy percentage. These two things are crucial to contend at Augusta. Xander finished T50 at the 2018 Masters and I don’t see him improving on that much this year.
Winning Score: 16 under
– The weather forecast looks pretty good this week with the temperature in the high 70’s and low 80’s all week and just a small chance of rain on Thursday and Sunday. I expect the field to go low this week.
Picks to Win:
- 4th-10th: To quickly summarize this group, I think all six of these guys have a good shot at winning this week. In a shocking turn of events, I actually believe Tiger can win a major. I have definitely been a doubter in this regard, but the way he stepped up against Rory in their match at the Dell Matchplay a couple weeks ago made me find some faith in the big cat. As far as the others go: Fleetwood is in good form and seems to always contend in majors, Rory is the best golfer on the planet right now, I can’t remember the last time Dustin Johnson wasn’t in contention at a tournament, Paul Casey is in great form and has a good track record at Augusta, Molinari has been one of the best golfers on the planet the last nine months, and Rickie is the type of player who can win any week anywhere and finished runner-up last year here at Augusta. Though I’m not picking any of these guys to win, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see one of these guys get the green jacket on Sunday night.
- 3rd- John Rahm: In two career starts Jon Rahm has finished 4th and T27 at the Masters. His game shapes up very well to contend here, and he is also in great form. Rahm might have even won the Players a few weeks ago if he hadn’t made a boneheaded mistake not listening to his caddy on the 11th hole when he put a ball in the water and ended up bogeying one of the easiest holes on the course. Rahm is young and still has a lot to learn about managing his emotions, but there’s no doubt in my mind he will be a major champion sooner rather than later, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened this week.
- 2nd- Matt Kuchar: I battled back and forth between Kuchar as my runner-up and my winner, but eventually settled on him as my runner-up. Kuchar is currently the FedEx Cup leader and has been playing incredible golf lately. Kuchar is arguably the most consistent and balanced player in the world and almost never misses a cut. But form aside, his track record at Augusta is what stands out. He hasn’t missed a cut in the last nine years here, and in those nine years, he has four top 10 finishes including three top 5 finishes. He has never won a major, but he has come close many times most notably at the 2017 Open Championship. Kuchar may not have the killer attitude that most major champions have, but his golf game right now is as good as almost anyone and his experience at Augusta is second to none.
- Winner- Justin Rose: Justin Rose is currently the #1 ranked player in the world. Not only is Rose one of the best golfers in the planet right now, but his track record at Augusta is absolutely stunning. Justin Rose has finished top 25 all of the last eight years, and all but one of those was a top 15 finish. He also has two different runner-ups at the Masters, so he is no stranger to the moment here at the Masters. I would be pretty surprised if Rose finished his career without a green jacket, and his chances this year are as good as any to win. He has been one of the best ball strikers in the world for a very long time, and he has finally figured out how to be an effective putter. I believe Justin Rose will win this week.