Five Players to Follow at Augusta
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
The best player in the world right now. Johnson won the Genesis Open to move to the top of the rankings for the first time and promptly won the WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play for good measure, before withdrawing from the Houston Open to rest ahead of the Masters. The 32-year-old has finished sixth and fourth at Augusta in the last two years and is a miserly 5/1 favourite to claim his second major title.
Spieth’s form figures at Augusta are a remarkable 2-1-2, although his record-breaking victory in 2015 will get far less attention this week than his dramatic collapse in the final round 12 months ago, when he squandered a five-shot lead on the back nine and eventually finished three shots behind champion Danny Willett. However, Spieth has been in good form in 2017 – he won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February – and his brilliant putting remains a massive asset at Augusta.
McIlroy’s plans were disrupted by a six-week injury lay-off, but it could work in the Northern Irishman’s favour with the focus shifting to Johnson and away from McIlroy’s bid to complete the career grand slam. The four-time major winner has finished second, seventh and fourth in his three stroke play events in 2017 and an early exit from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play allowed him to get some early practice at Augusta, where he has finished inside the top 10 in his past three starts.
The Japanese golfer was been in sensational form in the past six months. He has gone off the boil slightly in recent weeks but don't be put off by that. Matsuyama has no weaknesses. He is a very long hitter and has played well at Augusta in the past. His every move will be scrutinised by the Japanese media, who are as desperate as the player himself to see one of their own win a major. Key will be his short game - his putting can be streaky and there is no margin for error at Augusta.
Fuzzy Zoeller was the last debutant to win The Masters back in 1979, but Rahm has the potential to write his name in the history books in his first full season as a professional. The 22-year-old only joined the paid ranks after last year’s US Open, but has already claimed his first PGA Tour title and finished third and second in WGC events in 2017. The world number 14 almost pulled off a brilliant comeback from five down after eight holes to Johnson in the Match Play final and has the power to thrive at Augusta.
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