There’s no great test in golf than Augusta National and the final round of the US Masters is the perfect way to cap the weekend. The experts will bang on about the 7,400 yard lay-out, world famous quick, sloping greens and the players needing to be flexible enough to shape their shots from right-to-left.
Either way, it just makes for a magnificent spectacle and drama as the world’s best golfers jostle for the Green Jacket.
And there’s a few of the usual – and not so usual suspects – in the mix again this year.
The Aussie is without doubt the form player and deserving favourite for the Masters after picking up where he left off in the second half of 2015. He’s won his last two starts (Arnold Palmer Invitationals & WGC Dell World Matchplay) and his course form at Augusta is impressive. He was second on debut in 2011 and third 2013 and his game sets up perfectly for the Georgia track with his long hitting and impeccable short game.
It’s hard to pick holes in his case and he’ll be very tough to beat.
The defending champion returns after a record breaking win last year – but Spieth has been relatively quiet in the run up to this year’s tournament.
He’s taken a while to shake off the fatigue of his globe-trotting which took him to China, Australia, Hawaii, Abu Dhabi & Singapore at the turn of the year. However, he has still been performing to a good level on courses that haven’t necessarily suited his game.
A return to Augusta should be a welcome reprieve. He appreciates room off the tee and thrives on the speed and slope that the Augusta greens. He’ll go close to becoming the first back-to back winner since Tiger Woods in 2001/02.
Supremely talented, he was only beaten on the final hole by a red-hot Jason Day when the clashed in the World Matchplay. McIlroy’s as good as ever off the tee, but for a few loose iron shots and missed putts, he could have easily successfully defended his MatchPlay title.
He’s had mixed fortunes at Augusta, from his infamous collapse in 2011 to his fast-finishing fourth place last year 2015. There’s been a bit of everything from him at the Masters before and faced with the competition at the head of the market – I’m keen to take him on next week.
The Chasing Pack
The two-time Masters champion is always a contender here as the track suits his natural game so well. Has won at Riviera this season already and his distance off the tee brings nearly every hole into play with his second shot. On his day he’s proven he can bring the course to its knees.
That’s a huge advantage and you can’t leave Bubba out of staking plans as he chases a third Green Jacket this week.
The former US Open champ comes here slightly under the radar this season after chasing Jordan Spieth home last year.
Rose has added length off the tee to his game this season and has posted some good scores without setting the US Networks alight in the face of the Rory/Jordan/Ricky/Jason onslaught.
His ball striking stats are as good as ever and not many players this week have better course form. He’s been around for the weekend 10 times from 10 attempts, posted 7 top 25 finishes of which three were Top 10’s.
Finished runner up last year but has a great chance of going one better now.
So where’s the real value?
I really think that the Texan’s chance is being underestimated. Walker was best described as a journey-man pro until he exploded on the scene with five wins within 18 months to take his game to the next level.
His game dipped a little in the second half of 2015 but the stats show he’s rebounded well in 2016.
An very respectable eighth-place finish on his debut last year, Augusta will hold no fears for him and I really think he’s on the verge of something big. He has too much class to be trading at this price.
The poster boy for simple consistency whose six PGA Tour wins come down to him being a very dependable, solid player. Despite this, he’s still awaiting a Top 10 finish in a Major but has posted a number of impressive finishes this season already.
A solid if unspectacular record in the Masters but his style rates him among the better each-way bets to finally end his Major’s jinx.