Golfshake Team Masters Picks
There are 94 players expectant in the field at this year's Masters Tournament, with the iconic Green Jacket waiting alluring to be worn by the eventual champion. It's arguably become the most symbolic achievement in the game, and legends have been defined by it. But who will etch their name into the folklore of Augusta National?
We asked Golfshake Staff and Ambassadors to pick out a number of players who will make headlines this week, including the man set to be triumphantly presented with the jacket in Butler Cabin on Sunday.
Derek Clements - Golfshake Tour Writer
Jordan Spieth. With one win and two runners-up finishes in three appearances, Spieth is a no-brainer. He loves Augusta and he putts like a magician.
Justin Rose. Most people will opt for Tyrrell Hatton but he will surely struggle in his first outing at Augusta. Rose is ready to win a second major, and he has a very good record at Augusta.
Russell Henley. Back in form after winning in Texas, Henley has a more than a fighter's chance because he putts brilliantly on fast greens. And they don't come any faster.
Jon Rahm. Can you call the world number 14 an outsider? Well he has only been a pro since June last year and this is his first appearance at Augusta. And he could easily win if he keeps his emotions in check.
Curtis Luck. The US Amateur champion is a class act. He is the best amateur on the planet and is destined for a huge career.
Steve Stricker. His swing hasn't changed in years. He is a part-time player these days but remains a class act. Still one of the very best on and around the greens.
Matt Holbrook - Golfshake Ambassador
Rory McIlroy - Think it's finally his time to complete his career grand slam.
Kevin Na - On his day his game is a solid as most others!
Emiliano Grillo - Well at home on the PGA Tour and consistently seems to be posting good scores.
Tyrrell Hatton - Has been playing so well in America and looks comfortable on the big stage.
Scott Gregory - Just want to support the British boys!
Fred Couples - Always seems to bring his A game to Augusta.
Owen Davies - Golfshake Digital & Media Strategist
This is so tough to pick this year, but I am going the horses for s courses route and backing Jordan Spieth. He has not had the finest start to 2017, but he always comes good for Augusta and simply loves the place. Last years debacle on the 12th would scar many for life, but I believe Spieth is one of the most mentally strong players ever to have played the game and he will overcome last year's disappointment to win.
The first of my two outsiders is Louis Oousthuizen. The South African has serious game and good record around Augusta, he was very unlucky against Bubba Watson in the playoff a few years ago. He has the major pedigree needed to go all the way.
While Jon Rahm may not be world beater quite yet, he will be very, very soon. Supremely talented, mega long and amazing confident, it would not be surprise to see him win on his debut and become the first player to do so for a very, very long time.
Matt Fitzpatrick had a super Masters last year and is in good form. Now is the time for him to step up and become a true global star.
Scott Gregory, the Amateur Champion is playing great right now and recently won the Georgia Cup edging out US Amateur Champion Curtis Luck 1up.
Bernhard Langer, the German seems to be age defying, just ask his peers on the Champions Tour, another year rolls by and still he is on top of the pack. He loves Augusta as well and it would not be a surprise to see him competing for the Green Jacket come Sunday let alone for the top senior spot.
Kieran Clark - Golfshake Writer & Editor
It's always hard to look beyond the favourties at Augusta National, but I think two could prove unstuck by personal agendas. Rory McIlroy is confident and ready to succeed, but his burning ambition to complete the career grand slam may just become a hidden obstacle. Following his dramatic collapse 12 months ago, Jordan Spieth will be hoping to atone for that loss and exorcise the baggage from it, but that determination could get in his way.
Which brings me to the world number one, Dustin Johnson. Having quietly finished in fourth place last year, the 32-year-old carried that form onto the U.S. Open, where he produced a brilliant triumph in the face of adversity. Having won five times since - including four World Golf Championships - and on his last three starts, it's foolish to dismiss the credentials of someone who has become such a consistent winner. He's rightly the favourite and the man to beat.
Despite being ranked highly, Danny Willett was considered something of a left-field champion, but ironically a repeat succcess would be more of a surprise than his triumphant moment last April. He played on that final day alongside compatriot Lee Westwood, and wouldn't it be a sentimental image to see the older Englishman *finally* secure his first major championship victory at the 76th attempt? It may seem unlikely at 43, but stranger things have happened.
Marc Leishman recently won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and it was an overdue success for the Australian who contended in the Masters four years ago, and lost in a playoff in the Open Championship at St. Andrews. The serious problems of his wife had been well documented, but with those dark times behind him, confidence high and the experience of previous jousts in the biggest events, this likeable big man is one to look out for this week.
There are a record 11 English players in the field this year. I've already mentioned Lee Westwood as a possible champion, but if it's not to be his week, then Paul Casey is more than capable at having a run deep into the weekend. Approaching his 40th birthday, the former Ryder Cup player is coming in under the radar compared with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick, but he has consistently played well at Augusta.
Australia's Curtis Luck - winner of the U.S Amateur - leads the rankings and will attract attention this week, particularly after the impressive of Bryson DeChambeau last year. The 20-year-old from Perth has already won a professional tournament, and made the cut in Abu Dhabi and Dubai earlier this season. He's already shown an ability to handle that environment and that will serve him well this week.
One or two of the older players usually appear highly on the leaderboard early on, and most would likely identify two-time champion Bernhard Langer as being that man, having been within two shots of the lead after three rounds. However, I'm going to pick Fred Couples, the winner 25 years ago, who has consistently played well at Augusta into his 50s, despite missing last year's tournament due to injury. He'll make his return to the Masters feeling inspired and with a strong opportunity to make the cut for a 29th time.
Josh Carr - Golfshake Writer
Rory McIlroy. The conditions are going to be perfect for him and his putting has improved. He's just signed a new deal with Nike so will be even happier about that and could help him mentally on the course.
Lee Westwood. You can never look past Westwood as an outside bet at The Masters as he is just so good around Augusta.
Marc Leishman.The Aussie is in good for this season and won a couple of weeks ago. He was also up there a few years ago if I remember rightly.
Tyrrell Hatton. He's playing some incredible golf this year and has had almost a similar run up to Augusta as Danny Willett did last year.
Scott Gregory. He's the only one I've ever seen play out of the amateurs so I'd have to go him.
Jose Maria Olazabal. He's won twice around Augusta and loves the place.
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