Golf Masters

Masters Preview: The Former Champions

There will be 16 former champions in the field this year, three of them look to have as big of a chance as anybody to go home with another Masters title.

Adam Scott

Best finish at the Masters: Winner (2013)

Odds: 11/1

At the start of the season it was all about how Adam Scott would handle the change of putter from the long putter back to the short one. He has exceeded all expectations. Moving from 157th in strokes gained putting at the end of last season to 42nd so far this season.

The improved putting has just been part of a wonderful start to the season for the Australian. A 2nd place followed by back-to-back wins including the WGC Cadillac Championship has seen Scott come into the Masters as many people’s pick to pick up a second green Jacket.

It looked as though the world no 6 would be the form player heading into the tournament until Jason Day’s recent victories, but the 35-year-old will be delighted with his game as he heads to Augusta.

He has plenty of experience at the course – this will be his 15th appearance – but he hasn’t always done well at Augusta. He only has four top 10s in those starts at the Masters. The good news for Scott is that three of those have come in the past five years.

adam scott

It is perhaps surprising that he only has one major victory to his name. It felt like he was destined for greatness from the moment he stepped on tour, but at 35 there is still plenty of time for him to add to that one victory here three years ago.

Scott said: ‘I don’t want it to be the one major that I win. I feel I’ve got the game to win other majors and I’m looking to win my second major championship this week, and I’m driven towards doing that because I want to win a handful of majors in my career.”

One of the keys to winning around Augusta is playing the par 5s well. One thing Scott has excelled at all season. He leads the tour in par 5 scoring and has more eagles per hole than any other player this season. If he can continue to dominate on the par 5s then maybe this weekend will be the time that he adds the second major that he really desires.

 

Phil Mickelson

Best finish at the Masters: Winner (2004, 2006, 2010)

Odds: 18/1

Any time Mickelson tees it up he is one of the crowd favourites and that will be no different this week. The crowd at Augusta love Phil and Phil loves Augusta.

Since his debut in 1991 the American has an incredible 15 top 10s including his three wins. The most recent of these came last year when he finished in a tie for second behind Jordan Spieth.

Despite the runner up finish at last year’s event, by his own high standards, 2015 was far from a good year for Mickelson. Inconsistent form throughout the season saw him go winless for a second consecutive season. He hasn’t actually won since his 2013 Open Championship victory.

However, a change in coach has rejuvenated Lefty and he is looking more and more like the man with five majors to his name. He hasn’t managed to win yet, but he has been playing some great golf. He is currently the leading the tour in scoring average. Surely it is only a matter of time before he gets back to winning ways?

It is 30 years since Jack Nicklaus won the Masters at 46; Mickelson will be looking to win his fourth green jacket at 45.

Just like Adam Scott, Phil has been dominating on the par 5s this year – he is currently 8th in par 5 scoring average. He will need to continue that if he is going to keep up with the young guns like Day, Mcilroy and Spieth.

One thing is for sure, we will get some magic from Mickelson. Will it be a repeat of one of the most famous shots in the history of the tournament on the way to victory?

 

Bubba Watson

Best finish at the Masters: Winner (2012, 2014)

Odds: 11/1

Is it possible that Bubba Watson is flying under the radar as we get to the Masters? All the talk is about Day, Spieth and Mcilroy but Bubba is a two-time Masters champion who has had a very good start to 2016.

Watson already has a win this season as he looks to add another Masters title. A third win in five years would put him at the same number of titles as fellow left hander Phil Mickelson and cement his place as one of the greats of the game.

Bubba is a controversial figure on tour. His comments about the Waste Management Open this year didn’t exactly make him popular with the rowdy crowd in Arizona and last year came out top of a poll of other layers asking which player they would be least likely to help in a fight. But when he is in the right frame of mind, there is not a more entertaining player to watch.

Bubba

We all know about Watson’s huge hitting. He is the second longest player in the field, and currently leads the tour in strokes gained tee to green. Again, he is right there at the top of the list for par 5 scoring behind just Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler. Bubba can take apart a course like Augusta with his big hitting. He can turn holes like the par 5 13th into little more than a drive and a short iron.

In a recent TV programme profiling the 37-year-old he admitted that he suffers from anxiety in crowds so perhaps flying slightly under the radar is the perfect situation for Watson to thrive and once again walk away as champion.

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Masters Preview: The Big Three

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