Golf fans all around the world are starting to get excited and the tension is building ahead of the 80th edition of the US Masters. This will be the first major of the year and, after last year’s thrilling edition, fans have every right to expect plenty of drama and lots of surprises.
Once again, the Augusta National Golf Club is set to host another incredible week of golf, and there will be lots of players with their eyes on the prize. Young sensation Jordan Spieth will be set to defend his title, while veterans like Bubba Watson will be keen to show off the benefits of their experience. No matter which player you’re rooting for, the 2016 Masters is shaping up to be a really thrilling event.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the highest-rated players heading into the tournament and try to predict who could be going home with that fabled trophy.
There’s such a lot of reverence and tradition associated with the Masters. Every pro golfer in the world is eager to etch his own name into the history of this famous competition. Jordan Spieth already managed to make his mark on the Masters last year, becoming the second youngest player to ever win the trophy and also tying Tiger Woods’ course record score. He went on to have a phenomenal 2015 season, breaking all sorts of records and becoming the world number one.
At just 22 years of age, the best is surely yet to come from Jordan Spieth and he’ll want to kick his season into high gear with a great performance at this event. He’s had a mixed time in 2016 so far, with one win to his name, but everyone knows that Spieth steps up his game for the big tournaments. He handles pressure incredibly well for such a young man and will be hoping that his cool head and super putting can help him defend his title.
Who in the golf world is hotter than Adam Scott right now? Two wins in Florida and a 12th place finish at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, the guy is playing the best golf of his career. The Australian is currently ranked as the sixth best player in the world and has certainly lived up to that title in recent weeks.
As mentioned, Scott recently earned back-to-back wins at The Honda Classic and the WGC Cadillac Championship. The Adelaide-born star is in excellent form and doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses in his game at the moment. His driving and putting have both been excellent and he’ll certainly be one to watch when the Masters gets going.
Scott won’t be the only man for Australian fans to cheer for, as world number two Jason Day will also be in the running. Day had a brilliant time in 2015, with a PGA Championship victory being the most notable highlight. The new year didn’t start too brightly for Day, but he just recently secured his first win of the year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’ll be another favorite to take home the grand prize.
Day is yet to win a jacket, but has knocked on the door for the past 5 seasons, including a T2 in 2011. At 28, this may be Day’s best shot to conquer Augusta and win the first major of the 2016 season.
Of course, no golfing discussion would be complete with mentioning Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman failed to win a major in 2015 and had some trouble with consistency, but he remains one of the sport’s finest players.
McIlroy recently dropped down to third in the world rankings, but that was as much a result of the ankle injury as anything else. We have been fortunate enough to watch the majority of shots he’s taken in the 2016 PGA season, and are here to tell you he’s back and would be our pick to put together a brilliant week and win this year.
Rory has faired very well at Augusta in the past. He finished tied for eighth back in 2014 and then got a fourth place finish last year. He hasn’t got off to the best start in 2016 with no wins to his name just yet, along with some rather disappointing statistics regarding his putting. Certain critics are starting to worry about McIlroy’s waning performances, and so this edition of the Masters would be the perfect occasion for Rory to remind everyone what he can do.
Bubba Watson is another player that people will certainly be cheering for in Augusta. Watson has been in great form so far this year, sealing a fantastic victory at the Northern Trust Open back in February. Prior to that win, Bubba had been dealing with some fan trouble after making some derogatory comments in regard to the TPC Scottsdale course.
By winning the Northern Trust Open, he proved once again that he can handle the pressure that can come with this sport. He’s won the Masters twice already and has a lot of history on this course. At 37 years of age, Watson has all of the experience and know-how necessary to add another major title to his trophy cabinet. He’ll be up against some stiff competition, but golf fans all know that Bubba should never be counted out. Bubba currently holds the number 4 ranking.
Fowler has always done well in the four biggest tournaments, without ever being able to claim a win. Some fans believe it’s only a matter of time until Rickie wins a major, so this could be his chance. Meanwhile, Stenson is well-known for his incredible striking ability, but his putting skills have let him down in the past. If he can address that side of his game, this could be a great tournament for him.
Stenson contended throughout the Florida leg of the PGA tour, playing his typical great golf… no high too high, no low too low. At 39, he is still one of the most consistent golfers on tour. This consistency has him currently ranked 26th in driving percentage, 13th in GIR, 5th in Tee-to-Green, and he is also top 10 in scoring, birdie average, ball striking, and strokes gained.
Like we said, the dude is consistent, and that steady play is exactly what it takes to keep calm and put together 4 strong days at Augusta and contend for this major. Billy Haas recently said that he’s a better golfer at 33 than he was at 25 because he realizes what it takes to be great. It’s making the smart play with every shot that allows you to hang around for four days, take risks when necessary, but don’t make the big mistake or get into a mental funk anywhere in the tournament.