Well, golf’s Spring time tradition is once again upon us as it should be another exciting Masters tournament. With probably one of the deepest fields we’ll ever see at the Masters, who will take home the Green Jacket?
This year’s Masters is full of stories to keep up with. This is one of those years where almost anyone can come out victorious.
Here are some key players to watch for (And no, I am not a fantasy golf expert. Sorry if I lose you any cash. Also, keep in mind that this list is NOT in order).
Tiger Woods – is back and from what I’ve heard, has had a couple of solid practice rounds. In order for Tiger to have a good shot this year, he’ll have to make sure his sort game is at its best.
Although Augusta National is known as a course for the power hitters, it’s an under rated track for the short game players.Tiger needs to have his short game going, especially on Amen Corner where the 11th hole usually has some tough green speeds and hole 12 where a lot of times, you might miss the green.
Have a solid short game and you can get out of hole 12 with a par. This will be one the most interesting Masters Tiger will have played in a looong time.
Bubba Watson – comes in as the defending Masters champion and winning two out of the last three. He’s quickly started to make a name for himself as a Masters legend and if he could repeat as champion, that would make three Masters victories in four years.
Although he was just voted as the most disliked player on Tour by his peers, Bubba looks to gain some more fans by once again dominating Augusta.
Key thing for Bubba is that he needs to make his putts. He’s proven that he can bomb it off the tee and get out of even Augusta National’s toughest lies, but can he handle the greens?
He should play pretty well if he can get GURs (Greens Under Regulation) on Augusta’s par 5s. Otherwise, he may have to pull some magic with the flatstick.
Jordan Spieth – looks to seek revenge as it looked like the Green Jacket was his until Bubba defeated him and showed why he won the Masters two years prior. Like Bubba, Jordan has proven he has terrific recovery ability, especially around the greens.
Another thing about Jordan is that he tends to sink putts at the right time. It didn’t pan out well for him last year at Augusta but Amen Corner can attack anyone on any given Sunday.
If he can get hot at the right time, which he does oh so often, he has an excellent shot to wear green this year. He’s also terrific even out of Augusta’s tricky bunkers which could do him well if he gets into trouble.
Only player who might be better at bunker recovery is Matt Kuchar, who’s been the best on the planet at doing so for the last couple of years.
Matt Kuchar – Speaking of Matt, I can see him making some noise this year. He was playing well at last year’s Masters but in the end it ended up being a duel between Bubba and Jordan until Bubba finally started to pull away.
Matt, to me, is one, if not the most unique “top player” on the PGA Tour. He’s not a guy who’ll overpower a golf course with his driver or split fairways.
He’s sneaky. He attacks courses with no real strength. As mentioned, Matt is an outstanding recovery player, especially out of the bunker (He’s no.1 in the world in Sand Save Percentage).
Other than that, Matt has nothing that makes himself standout like Phil with his short game, Tiger with his putter or Bubba with the driver. That’s what I love about him.
He finds ways to beat you that other players wouldn’t know about. He’s a classic course management type of golfer and that’s going to do him extremely well at Augusta where the course design challenges your mind arguably better than any other course in the world.
A classic strategic golfer who’s also really good with the putter as well. He’s 17th in the world in Strokes Gained.
With the unique combination of course strategy, bunker recovery and putting, Matt could be a serious threat at this year’s Masters. Only thing missing is if he had just enough power to get by.
He’s 147th in the world in driving distance. If he was at least in the top 100, he would have probably been my lock to win it this year.
Rory Mcilroy – Ahh, yes, the world’s number one player hailing from Holywood, Ireland. Many wonder if the ghost of Augusta past is behind him and if he could get the career grand slam.
What better place to get the career grand slam then at Augusta National? This is going to be a major test for Rory and he needs to be ready if he wants to make it happen.
See, he could’ve already had the career slam had he not collapsed at Augusta a few years ago. With his Open Championship win last year, we could have already been talking about his career slam and his booked ticket to the hall of fame but his famous collapse may haunt him.
What Rory needs to do is get his mind ready. He already has the talent to overpower Augusta and is good at well, pretty much everything else.
It’s just a mental thing for Rory. If he can handle Augusta’s course design and all of its tricks, Rory may have a great shot at completing the career slam.
Dustin Johnson – Like several players this year, DJ’s been on fire ever since returning from his recovery of “cccrrraacckk” addiction. He already won once again and could’ve easily won a couple of times if he didn’t lose in the playoff at Riviera.
Dustin’s back and better than ever. Plus, he’s obviously got the power to conquer Augusta.
He doesn’t have the recovery skills like his power counterpart Bubba Watson, but he splits fairways. He’s also quite consistent which is crucial to winning a major.
The thing is with Dustin, like Rory, his famous penalty at the PGA Championship a few years ago may haunt him. Although that was the PGA and this is the Masters, as good as DJ’s been since coming on Tour, many wonder if he’ll ever win the “big one”.
Probably playing some of the best golf of his career, this is the perfect time for Dustin to get hot. If he drives well and putts well, he’ll be towards the top of the leaderboard.
J.B. Holmes – Who?! Remember J.B.? He was quite a popular player some years ago. I laugh when I sometimes hear that J.B. is this “no name player”.
J.B. was pretty darn popular a good five or six years ago. He was the true Bubba Watson before Bubba became this mainstream success (While Bubba still had a clothing line at Steve & Barry’s. Oh how I miss you S & B!). He was the guy who had this unbelievable amount of power off the tee.
He’s been having a remarkable comeback season after having not one, but two heart surgeries. It would be a truly amazing story if J.B. were to walk out of Augusta with a win.
He has the skill to do it too. He’s still a major threat off the tee but he also has developed impressive touch around the greens, something that wasn’t a strong suit in the past.
The 12th ranked player in the world needs to rely on both his driver and his putter (AKA the “Two most important clubs in the bag”) if he wants a shot on the weekend. His recovery skills is good enough to get him out of tough situations so there’s not much worry there.
It’s all a matter of being consistent off the tee and around the greens for J.B.
Brooks Koepka – Brooks has honestly started to become one of my favorite players on Tour. He’s powerful off the tee, he’s accurate with his irons and doesn’t let pressure faze him.
The Waste Management Phoneix Open champion is on his way to possibly winning Rookie of the Year. This after he had just won Rookie of the Year on the European Tour.
Huh?! An American winning European Tour Rookie of the Year? Yessir, and it was the second time in a row and only the second time ever an American has done so (Peter Uihlein was the other player).
So, he’d become the first American player ever to win European Tour and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year if he can do it. He has proven that he can win, but can he tackle Augusta?
I really doubt he’ll even have a shot, but it’ll be so fun to see how he performs. Augusta is a course that’s perfect for Brooks to play well on.
In the end, the pressure of Green Jackets, pretty flowers, and towering pine trees will spin around his head, causing him to fall to the ground in a daze.
Then we’ll probably see floating flowers around his head. But it’ll be a treat to see him play hole 13.
Jimmy Walker – This man right here is on a mission. He’s by far the hottest golfer on the planet right now.
He already has two wins and the season hasn’t even fully started to take shape yet. Heck, he would’ve had three wins is he didn’t lose the Hyundai Tournament of Champions to Patrick Reed in a playoff.
It’s hard to stop a man that’s on a golf course rampage like J-Walk is. At this rate, I doubt Augusta even fazes the guy.
Plus, he’s extremely dangerous. He’s one of the few all-around players on Tour and could give guys like Rory or Tiger and run for their money.
He can crush the ball a long way, he’s accurate with his irons and he’s a monster on the greens. He’s the third best putter in the entire world.
His only weakness is his driving accuracy as he ranks 176th in the world in that category. He’s hit 303 out 563 fairways this year.
His recovery however, is just good enough to save him from those crooked drives. He’s ranks 84th in scrambling.
The key for Jimmy is staying in the fairway. If he’s hitting straight drives, then the Masters could be over in a hurry.
He’s just that good right now. I think he’s hungry for that major win and there’s arguably no major better to win than the Masters.
The pick to rock green – Although all of the players mentioned are great players and I know I left out some guys, but only one can win the Masters. I’m going with Jimmy Walker.
He’s just too consistent, too much all-around talent and doesn’t have a target on his back. He’s relaxed with no pressure on him and he can overpower Augusta.
A Masters win would also, in my opinion solidify him as the best American player on the PGA Tour. Although Bubba Watson has two Masters in three years, Jimmy Walker has been very consistent.
It’s a major championship missing that’s stopping him from reigning supreme as “Golf King of America”. Please give me an American player better than Jimmy Walker if he does win the Masters.
Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are really the only guys that come to mind. Again, I don’t think he’s THE best American yet but my gosh he’s oh so close.
I tell you what, if he doesn’t win the Masters, he’ll definitely win a major this year. He’s just playing too well not to win a major.
He and Rory Mcilroy were the only two players las year two win three times. Jimmy is on the prowl again but this time, looking to get that first major title.
If he doesn’t win the Masters, he’ll likely be right towards the top of the leaderboard. Again, it’s all a matter of him hitting enough fairways.
That’s the huge key for him. If he can do that, then he’ll get his solid approach shots and he will make his putts.
Using his power off the tee will play a major factor as well.
My close second pick to win it was Jordan Spieth and my 3rd choice was Rory Mcilroy.
So, there you have it! Your 2015 GP Golf Report Masters champion is Jimmy Walker!
By the way, you’re likely reading this story on Thursday or Friday since I wrote so close to the first round. But, that’s OK! Because everyone knows the weekend is where all the juice starts flowing!
Follow me on Twitter @ChiGolfRadio! I’m likely keeping up with the Masters all weekend or tweeting to EA Sports for not having Augusta in their new golf game!