Forget the Florida swing, we’re looking ahead to the first major of the year, the 2020 Masters at Augusta National. Can Tiger Woods repeat and claim major No. 16? Will Rory McIlroy finally break through at Augusta, or are we destined for a first-time major-winner? Here are our staff’s (way too early) picks to win.
Josh Sens: Brooks Koepka. Just when it seemed we were finally done overlooking him, his recent injury time off has slipped him back under the radar, at least a bit. That he hasn’t done much since his return only makes me suspect we’ll get a repeat of the past couple seasons, when he walked softly in the non-majors then wielded a big stick when it mattered most.
Sean Zak: Adam Scott has never looked better (save for a rough opening round at Bay Hill). He won in Australia before the New Year. Then won his first start of 2020 at a course (Riviera) that demands everything of a player, in the same way Augusta National does. He’s on the short list of about five who we can expect contention from.
Luke Kerr-Dineen: Lost in all the wow-look-how-big-Bryson’s-gotten chatter is the actual reason why he’s doing this in the first place — to win at Augusta National. Bryson has transformed himself into one of the longest hitters on Tour, armed with a commanding draw designed to navigate Augusta’s fairways. He’s smarter than ever, and he’s hungry — both figuratively and probably literally. Lurking under the radar at 28-to-1, Bryson is pursuing a green jacket with a single-minded doggedness. And when Bryson does that, he usually gets what he’s after.
Jessica Marksbury: All signs point to the fact that this SHOULD be the year for the stars to align for Rory. His T21 last year was the first time he’s finished outside the top 10 at Augusta since 2013, but we all know how he finished the 2019 season afterward. His consistency has been out of this world. And not only does he already have a win this season, he hasn’t finished outside the top 5 in his last five Tour starts. So much is at stake — completing the career grand slam, ending a nearly six-year major drought — but I think he’ll do it.
Dylan Dethier: Are we talking value?! My early lean is toward Patrick Cantlay, who everyone is sleeping on because, well, he’s Patrick Cantlay. But he has the game to take on Augusta, he’s got a couple years’ experience, I like the way he can work the ball both directions, and he’s got that stone-cold killer vibe that could help him down the stretch. Available at 25-1 right now! Louis Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth are calling my name from that 50-1 slot, though…
Alan Bastable: Forgive me for going with the obvious choice. I’m going with a surging top-30 player who’s already won this year, looked great at PGA National and has notched five top-10 finishes in his last eight Masters starts. I speak, of course, of Lee Westwood. If his drinking mate Darren Clarke can raise the Claret Jug at 42, Westy can slip on the jacket at 46.
Josh Berhow: Two weeks ago I would have said Tiger Woods, but I’m a little concerned about his form right now and need to see some results. So that leads me to … Rory McIlroy? Just look at the guy’s results lately. I know he has some demons at Augusta National but he’s bound to win a green jacket at some point. We know he’ll be in the mix, it’s just a matter of if he can finish it on the weekend (or, better said, if his putter can help him on the weekend). I’m saying he gets it done. (Backup pick: Webb Simpson.)
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