We are PUMPED for the 2017 edition of The Masters! It feels like being first in line at Best Buy on Black Friday morning. Soon, the greatest venue in golf will fling open the gates, and we will charge in to witness the world’s best going head-to-head in the most anticipated and revered contest on the planet. So grab a pimento cheese sandwich and let’s go find you a winner.
Selecting major champions is tough business, but The Masters is the easiest of the four because of the reduced field size and the past champions who cannot contend. Most players love this course but there are a few that don’t, and we can quickly rule them out. There is no way you can not embrace Augusta National and win. For some, the course doesn’t suit their game and others can’t overcome the baggage from previous failures. Both factors will play a part in our selection.
Let’s start the addition by subtraction with the world’s best player; Dustin Johnson.
DJ has worked incredibly hard on his short game and putting. He’s now to the point where he’s the most complete competitor from tee to green, and can destroy tournaments. Old DJ couldn’t chip and putt well enough to win a green jacket. New DJ can. But anyone who’s ever fixed something in golf has that bad swing thought or faulty process buried deep in their subconscious. The synapses can fire at the worst of times and this course can trigger. One year he’ll win one, but not quite yet. Looking for a top five, though.
The world’s best ball striker is Rory McIlroy. When his swing is on he can thump it like nobody. Rory is not the world’s best putter, and is far from it. I’m not sure if it’s attitude, mechanics, or innate ability that hold him back. He’s won the other three majors and would dearly love to close out the career grand slam, but you need a deft touch on these greens, and a cool head when you miss. Plus, he still has that final round 80 in 2011 lying dormant.
Phil Mickelson‘s performance in the majors began to slip over the last couple of years. But then, BAM! What a show for the ages he put on at 46 in last year’s Open Championship. Unfortunately, Henrik Stenson bested him with one of the greatest final rounds ever played in a major. Lefty’s game is suited for Augusta. But come on, he’ll be 47 in two months and nobody since Jack in 1986 has won a major at that age. Sorry, Phil, you aren’t Jack. Should be a good week though, and a top-10 finish.
Briefly: Justin Thomas peaked a little too early this year and needs more seasoning. It’s either vertigo, mental breakdown, illness, or injury. I’m done picking Jason Day in this tournament – watch him win it now. Sergio Garcia doesn’t like the venue and nobody ever won The Masters putting with the modified claw grip (read this Phil!) Adam Scott; no broomstick allowed, no chance. Hideki Matsuyama; too mechanical and the stage is too big (but it’s shrinking). Rickie Fowler is this year’s trendy pick. He certainly has the outfits to look the part, but trendy never wins The Masters, especially for those who can’t hold a lead or hold up well under 4th round pressure. Rickie is more suited to a PGA type venue where he can battle in the first three rounds and come from behind to win. When will PLAYERS Champion Rickie re-appear? 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett remains on the world’s greatest one and done tour. Can Canadian Adam Hadwin contend? Should be on his honeymoon but is turning his new wife into a golf widow at Augusta. Okay, he gets a pass. Adam probably needs a couple years on the course but this guy has stones. Love his pressure game.
The last man standing is Jordan Spieth, your 2017 Masters champion. Best putter in the field. Best vision in the field, best clutch chipper in the field. Sometimes hits it crooked off the tee but you can get away with that at Augusta. And finally, if anyone can immerse in the process of shot to shot it’s Jordan, and that will help erase the mental foible of the 12th hole from last year. I love his chances. Who’s your choice?
Winner : Jordan Spieth
Runner Up: Dustin Johnson
Third: Rory McIlroy