Favorites vs. The Field: Masters Edition

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In addition to Opening Day, this is the official start of Spring for the sports world – The Masters.

This is when the casual sports fan decides to admit that they like to watch golf on television. While everyone is in awe of the big names and the history of what some would argue is the most popular major championship, they forget about the competition itself.

Augusta National tends to bring out the best golf from the best players in the world. Something about The Masters is just perfect, the golf course doesn’t typically play as tough as the U.S. Open and the conditions are not as treacherous as they could be during the Open Championship. The course shines every year and it makes victory for the skilled player who slips on the coveted green jacket that much sweeter.

Take the favorites or Take the field?

Thus far 2019 has been a competitive year in golf to say the least. It has been full of surprises and excitement in just a few short months. Names most golf fans have never heard of are hoisting trophies on Sunday while big names are back at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings, and of course Tiger is on the hunt.

No doubt The Masters will be interesting to watch and it is anyone’s guess who will come out on top. The oddsmakers in Vegas have Rory McIlroy as the 8-to-1 favorite. Names like Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods are not far behind ranging from 10-to-1 to 18-to-1. Everybody has a favorite golfer who they would like to see in the winner’s circle, but let’s be real and decide who will actually win it all.

Nobody has repeated as Masters champion since Tiger’s days of dominance back in 2001-2002. Major tournaments carry with them a heightened level of expected pressure but these players have what it takes to win tournaments and they’ve proven their capability to do so. Winning The Masters for the first time is a special feeling and a lifelong dream for many golfers. However, the pressure to win only increases from the moment that player slips on the green jacket.

Most of the time in Majors, the winner comes out of nowhere to challenge a star player and remain at the top of the leaderboard. It’s just as likely somebody who is under the radar at the moment will break through and make history. From a 60-to-1 former Masters Champion like Patrick Reed or the newest PGA Tour winner like Corey Conners at 250-to-1, anybody has a shot to claim victory. Despite the “anything can happen” hope, this year the smart money looks to be on the favorites over the field. But which favorite will take it all?

The favorite of the favorites

McIlroy may be the favorite before Thursday’s action and while he sits third in the Official World Golf Rankings behind Rose and Johnson he has never won at Augusta. He won The Players but most recently choked in his match against Tiger at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament.

Spieth won the tournament back in 2015 but he has not been playing his best golf as of late and could easily struggle this week. One golfer to really keep an eye on this week is Fowler. He will have a lot of support from fans this week as he tries to capture that elusive first Major title.

Many forget about last year’s performance when he finished second behind Patrick Reed after shooting 6-under over his last 11 holes. It’s safe to say he’ll be hungry for more this week and it could be the breakout tournament he needs for his career. In order for Fowler to break through and don the coveted green jacket he’ll have to hold off a strong field of rising contenders and worldwide favorites to get there.

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