Golf

Masters Preview: The Big Three

Perhaps this could be the big four, five or even six. But these three young players have separated themselves from the rest of the golfing world recently. Five of the past six majors have gone to Day, Spieth and Mcilroy and they currently sit at one two and three in the world.

Jason Day

Best finish at the Masters: T2 (2011)

Odds: 13/2

The big hitting Australian is the bookmaker’s favourite heading into the Masters and rightfully so.

Jason DayDay has won on his last two starts including the WGC Match Play and will be looking to add a third in a row at Augusta.

He has had good results in the Masters. In 2011 he finished in a tie for second and in 2013 he finished third. Day actually lead with just a few holes left in both of those years but perhaps worryingly he couldn’t close out either tournament.

However, Day is a completely different player to the one that buckled under the pressure of winning golf’s most prestigious tournament. He is the current world no 1, has won 6 times in his last 12 starts including his first major at last year’s PGA championship.

Some of the omens don’t look great for Day. The last player to win the Masters after heading into the tournament on the back of two wins was Tiger Woods in 2001. Also:

“No player has won @The Masters as the world number 1 player since Tiger Woods in 2002.” @JustinRayGC

But this won’t bother Day in the slightest. The 28-year-old is one of the biggest hitters in the field and his short game is as good as any player in the world right now. I don’t think anybody would be surprised to see Day wearing the green jacket on Sunday evening.

 

Jordan Spieth

Best finish at the Masters: Winner (2015)

Odds: 15/2

Spieth has struggled to reach the heights of last year so far this season, but the reigning Masters champion showed signs he was getting back to his best form in Houston last week. Five birdies in six holes shot Spieth into contention before he faded on the back nine, but the American will have taken some positives from that round.

The world no 2 has only played the tournament twice, finishing second in 2014 before winning his first major in last year’s tournament. He also has the best average score at Augusta of any player in the field.

Jordan Spieth

The main difference between this year and 2015 has been his putting. This time last year it was almost a shock if he didn’t make every putt he had. It just hasn’t quite been there for him this year. However, despite struggling (compared to his own high standards) Spieth is still second on tour for average putts per round behind just Steve Stricker.

Many have pointed to Spieth’s globetrotting in the early part of the season as the reason for his slight slump, one of those people being Jason Day. However, he has still managed to get a win this year. He dominated the field in the Tournament of Champions, eventually winning by 8 shots.

Only three players have ever defended a Masters title, but the 22-year-old has been defying the odds from the minute he stepped onto tour.

 

Rory Mcilroy

Best finish at the Masters: 4th (2015)

Odds: 8/1

Rory

Mcilroy is the only one of these three players that will head to Augusta without a win this season. However, it has felt for a long time that Mcilroy’s season has been all about one thing – winning the Masters and completing the career grand slam.

If the world no 3 can win his first green jacket he will become just the sixth player of the Masters era to complete the grand slam and win all four majors.

The Northern Irishman has had quite an up and down season so far. He has struggled for consistency, particularly on the greens. His well-publicised grip change has produced mixed results. When it has been working, Mcilroy has played some wonderful golf. When it has been off, he looks nothing like the player with four majors to his name.

A run to the semi-final in the WGC Match Play will have given Rory a lot of confidence and he will be looking to carry that over into the first major of the year.

Mcilroy has never finished better than fourth in the Masters, but he has had good results here. Top 10s in the past two years as well as his famous collapse in 2011. Four clear heading into the final round, the then 21-year-old had a disastrous final round 80 to finish in a tie for 15th. He may have collapsed then, but it shows that Mcilroy can contend and can win at Augusta.

At his best, Mcilroy is the best player on the planet. The problem is, he hasn’t been able to put a full week of his best together so far this season. In a field full of the best players in the world, he will not be able to afford the double and triple bogies that he has been making in his recent tournaments.

Will 2016 be the year the he finally gets his hands on the green jacket he covets?

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