The 2017 Masters gets underway Thursday, and while a lot of the focus has been on who won’t be teeing it up at Augusta National, the world’s most prestigious golf tournament always promises to be must-see TV.
The world’s No. 1 golfer, Dustin Johnson, has won three straight events and appeared to be the clear favorite before his freak accident Wednesday.
With Johnson questionable for his Thursday tee time with Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker, it’s time to take a look at a few other golfers who could take home the green jacket this year. One of these golfers will win the 2017 Masters — we think.
Jordan Spieth — The 2015 Masters champion has some demons to exorcise after his Sunday collapse last year. Spieth took a five-shot lead into the back nine during his final round at last year’s tournament. But after bogeys at No. 10 and No. 11, he dunked two balls into Rae’s Creek on No. 12, made quadruple bogey and lost his lead to eventual champion Danny Willett. Still, Spieth has played the tournament three times and never has finished worse than second. His iron play has been ridiculously crisp so far in 2017, and he’s as close to a built-in favorite as there can be at the Masters.
Rory McIlroy — The 27-year-old Northern Irishman can complete the career Grand Slam by donning the green jacket Sunday. The weather at Augusta National this week has been wet, to say the least, and that will play right into McIlroy’s strength. A softer course will allow the world No. 2 to focus on taking sharper aim at the hole, as the rain should eliminate a lot of the roll that makes Augusta National so difficult. McIlroy has looked sharp since his return from a rib injury, and he’s posted top 10 finishes in his past two starts at Augusta. Expect him to be in the thick of things come Sunday.
Rickie Fowler — Fowler is in the conversation to be the best player without a major, but there’s a good shot that ends this week. Fowler has posted top 12 finishes in two out of his past three Masters appearances and is coming off a scorching five-week stretch that saw him win The Honda Classic and finish second at the Shell Houston Open. He missed the cut last year but has historically played Augusta National well. If he’s got the putter rolling this week, his drought could end.
Adam Hadwin — Sure, he’s a Masters rookie, and first-timers don’t normally fare well at Augusta National. But Hadwin gained entry by winning the Valspar Championship and followed that up with a sixth-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. So his game certainly is in great shape. It would be a shock to see a Masters rookie take home the green jacket, but after all, anything is possible in golf.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images