From Amen Corner to Rae’s Creek, to Hogan’s Bridge to the sit-down interviews in Butler Cabin, the first grand slam of the year brings us to Augusta National, home of the Masters.
The greatest golfers in the world flock to Atlanta, Georgia for a tradition unlike any other, but there is one glaring absence due to the injury of Tiger Woods. Without the spotlight shining bright on Woods, there will be plenty of drama, as players look to add a Major Championship to their resume.
Donning the Green Jacket is a dream of every golfer. On Sunday, that dream becomes a reality, as one golfer will earn the right to call themselves a Masters champion.
Who will be the one?
10) Charl Schwartzel: Already a green jacket winner in 2011, Schwartzel never seems to buckle under the pressure. With no bigger pressure than being in contention Sunday at Augusta, Schwartzel has proven he can handle it. Having already two top-10 finishes in 2014, expect the South African to add another top-10 finish to his resume.
9) Keegan Bradley: Sunday at Augusta, he won’t be wearing Sunday red (well, he might), but expect to see a few Tiger-like fist pumps from the Vermont native. Being ranked in the top-20 in driving distance bodes well for Bradley’s ability to handle this lengthy golf course. However, Bradley’s putting inconsistencies may prove to be the difference between Bradley wearing a Green jacket or no jacket at all.
8) Zach Johnson: A silent, but deadly player on the tour, Johnson has already tasted victory at Augusta having won the Masters in 2007. He lacks the charisma of a Woods or a Mickelson. He’s not the longest hitter on tour, and don’t expect ZJ to ever say the wrong thing. He’s playing the best golf of his career in recent years, and that makes him a very dangerous player at Augusta.
7) Jason Day: He already won the Match Play Championship. He’s finished in the top three in two of the last three Masters tournaments. If his injured thumb doesn’t derail his quest this week, the man from down under certainly has the game to finish on top.
6) Matt Kuchar: Having played his college golf at Georgia Tech, the home crowd has yet to will Kuchar to a Masters victory. If last weeks finish at the Shell Houston Open is any sign of how Kuchar will play this week, he may be booking an early flight home. But after nearly wining the last two tournaments, along with five top-10 finishes in his last nine starts, he’ll be just fine.
5) Phil Mickelson: A three-time Green jacket winner, we’ve all seen what Mickelson is capable of doing on this course. Expect the biggest name in the field to be right there when they make the turn on Sunday. I know I’ll be watching Phil. Hope you will too.
4) Bubba Watson: There was the shot out of the pine straw on the second playoff hole in 2012. There’s the visor and the collar. There’s the long drives. But most importantly, how can we not root for a guy named Bubba?
3) Adam Scott: If you were looking forward to a Steve Williams versus Joe LaCava battle on Sunday, you are not a lone. I was, but at least you’ll be seeing Tiger’s favorite caddie for the next four days. For the best golfer in the world, one green jacket isn’t enough. There’s a great chance the defending champ will get number two.
2) Rory Mcllroy: Do I really believe Mcllroy is going to finish in second? He might, but I’d feel I’d be doing a dishonor to the world of golf if I didn’t have him in this spot. And I’m not just ready to do that yet.
1) Angel Cabrera: Despite being ranked 82nd in the world golf rankings, El Pato comes to Augusta looking for redemption after a heartbreaking playoff loss to Adam Scott just a year ago. There seems to always be something special about Cabrera and the Masters. Five years after his victory in 2009, we get to once again see what that is.
UPDATE: Fans who bet on Bubba Watson winning the 2014 Masters got a nice payout.