It’s one of the biggest events in sports and certainly the biggest golf tournament of the year. With the Masters closely approaching, we may be looking at one of the most unpredictable tournaments in years with the slew of new talent.
Defending Masters champion Jordan Spieth has been slumping a bit and this opens the door for anyone to capture the Green Jacket this year. So, here are five players to look out for during the Masters (Feel free to check your fantasy squad).
NOTE: List is in no specific order.
1. Jordan Spieth: Just because he’s slowed down a little bit this year, doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous anymore. Spieth won the first tournament of the year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions by eight strokes and is still one of the deadliest putters on Tour, ranking in the top five in putting average.
A key thing for Spieth going into the Masters will be his approach game. He ranks 148th in Greens in Regulation, and with Augusta’s sneaky greens, the last thing Spieth wants to do is hack around and then drill a long putt…for double bogey.
Despite not making the greens in regulation, expect his putter to save him on numerous occasions during the tourney.
2. Adam Scott: It’s clear so far that Scott has been the hottest golfer on Tour this year, winning two times in a row at the Honda Classic and the WGC — Cadilac Championship. The 2013 Masters champion is obviously no stranger to Augusta, and is an all-around monster statistically.
Scott ranks ninth in driving distance, sixth in greens in regulation and first in strokes gained. Augusta is a course that favors the power hitters as well as the players who have keen eye in golf course design.
This will suite Scott perfectly, as there are a few driveable par-5’s for Scott to bomb it off the tee and leave him close enough to go for them in two(Vicious club twirls are encouraged). With one Masters win already under his belt, and the combination of power and ball striking, look for Scott to make plenty of noise at golf’s first major.
3. Bubba Watson: With two Masters wins in a three year span (2012 and 2014) that are still relatively fresh, and a win at the Northern Trust Open this year, it’s tough to sleep on Watson. Although he can be unpredictable, Watson has remained fairly consistent this year, finishing in the top 15 in four of his last five starts.
Watson is known for his mammoth tee shots as well as his remarkable recovery ability. However, a flaw in Watson’s game is his putting as he ranks 138th in strokes gained.
He does rank first in the world in greens in regulation which will be a huge benefit for his flat stick. Like Scott, Watson is capable of reaching par-5’s in two and although he may not make every eagle, he has an excellent opportunity to leave himself with some easy birdies.
It’s all a matter of staying in the fairway for Watson who ranks 123rd in driving accuracy percentage. If he does this, he’ll be a threat to contend for his third Green Jacket on the weekend.
4. Kevin Kisner: Kevin Kisner has quietly become one of the best golfers in the world, with four top-10 finishes including a second place finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions and a victory at the RSM Classic. Kisner put himself on the map after dueling it out with Rickie Fowler in what arguably was the best Players Championship in the tournament’s history (Fowler would win it in a playoff).
His placement on the map only continues to grow as his consistency hasn’t stopped. What separates Kisner from other players on this list is his deadeye accurate drives, as he ranks eight in the world in driving accuracy.
Not only is he accurate off the tee, he’s a terrific bunker player and putter, ranking fourth in sand save percentage and third in putting average. He doesn’t have jaw-dropping power, but he’s good enough, ranking 90th in driving distance.
However, Kisner will need to stay in the fairway as often as possible if he wants to be in contention come Sunday. Hitting from the rough is one of his weak points, ranking well over 100th in scrambling from the second cut.
He’s a streaky player who is capable of being a birdie machine, as he has 158 in 34 total rounds played this season. Keep an eye out for Kisner who may surprise some people this year.
5. Rickie Fowler: Many have been wondering if Fowler has included himself as part of the “big 3” of golf which includes Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. The one thing that’s held many people back from including him in this group is the fact that he’s the only one not to win a major.
This could change, as Fowler’s consistency continues with four top-10 finishes this year, including a second place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Although he didn’t quite take out the trash at TPC Scottsdale, he’s without a doubt hungry for that first win of the 2016 season and his first career major.
Out of everyone on this list, Fowler is the most balanced, ranking in the top 10 in the world in an incredible seven key statistics. His worst stat is driving accuracy where he ranks 98th in the world, other than that, there’s more single digits than an online PlayStation username (You already know).
Look for the 2015 Players Championship winner to make things interesting if he sets his putter on fire over the weekend.
Other players to keep an eye out for:
Rory McIlroy – The four time major champion is seeking his first Masters victory to complete the career grand slam. McIlroy finished solo in fourth at last year’s tournament and expect McIlroy to be relaxed, knowing that he has won four majors already.
Jason Day– The 2015 PGA Championship winner had a terrific season last year and looks to continue that success. With his first major under the belt, and a powerful swing, look for Day to lick his chops going into Masters week.
Hedeki Matsuyama – Since turning pro in 2013, Matsuyama has already collected two wins, including a win at this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. The rising star is also, arguably the streakiest player in the world, leading the Tour in birdie average.
Louis Oosthuizen – Another long hitter off the tee who won the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews. He also went into a playoff against Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters in which Watson won on a historic recovery shot.
Look for Oosthuizen to get a little revenge at this year’s Masters.
So, there’s the GP Golf Report yearly Masters picks for 2016. Hope you enjoy them, and again feel free to use some of these for your fantasy team….if you dare, I can’t guarantee your success.
Almost time for the Masters!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @ChiGolfRadio! I’ll be tweeting and retweeting Masters stuff next week!
Colin GP Mieczkowski
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