Tour Confidential Daily: Who will pull away from the pack, Rickie or Sergio?

April 8, 2017

Two of your four 36-hole leaders at the Masters are Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler, two superstar major-less players who have had their fair share of pressures put on them over the years. Make your case for the player who has the better weekend at Augusta National.

Sean Zak, senior editor, It’s going to be Rickie. This course rewards good putters, and Rickie has not only been a great putter this week (first thus far in strokes gained: putting), but he’s been putting as well as he ever has this season. These two have very similar games, so I’ll lean toward the guy who has been draining putts.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Rickie had such a clean card today. And he has very little of Sergio’s scar tissue. I think he’s the wise choice.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I object to the term superstar in reference to these two. Between them, my rooting interest would be for Sergio and my betting favorite would be for Rickie, but I’m still firmly in Fred’s camp, as I have been for some months, years and decades now. He has been and remains very good at golf.

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, I think Sergio’s best chance is to be a couple of shots behind after tomorrow’s round, removing some pressure and setting up a Willett-esque final-round charge that gets to the house early. Rickie is a better bet to grab the lead tomorrow and slam the door Sunday.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: If the leader board wasn’t so stacked with big names, I’d favor Sergio. But we’ve seen how he has performed in these spots. I’ll take Rickie, based solely on his form coming in.

Marika Washchyshyn, multimedia editor, I’ll also take Rickie. He was my pick at the beginning of the week for his play coming in, and he continued to impress me with difficult conditions over the past two days. As one Jessica Marksbury said today, “It’s too early for Sergio!”

Josh Sens, contributor, GOLF Magazine: Like Michael, my rooting interest is in Sergio. And this week, in a twist, so is my betting interest. Lots of talk about his new outlook on life (newly engaged; no longer so intent on playing the victim). Maybe that’s just talk. But he really does appear to be playing under less of a shadow than he used to. I’m not saying he’s going to win. But this time around, I don’t think he’s going to beat himself.

Sean Steinemann, social media editor, This is an interesting dynamic. I was asked earlier this week if I thought Fowler was the next Sergio. As in, will he ever get it done at a major? Does he have the clutch gene? And yet, here we are. Both have won this season against strong fields, both seem to be in good spots on and off the course, but I think Sergio has more scar tissue than Fowler. So I’ll take Fowler, but I think it will take extra holes for him to get past El Nino.

Michael Rosenberg, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Sergio. I like how he is playing, what he is saying, how he is carrying himself. He is ready to put the demons to rest. It’s his time! (Please forget I said this when he shoots 78.)