Jordan Spieth, just a little more than two months ago, missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and fell to No. 92 in the world. This week, he’s one of the betting favorites at the Masters.
That Spieth is so highly thought of for this week’s 2021 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club speaks to two important criteria when it comes to the golf season’s first major. One, players with good Masters history tend to play well, as do players who arrive in good form.
Spieth already is one of the greatest players in Masters history, and he comes in with four top-five finishes (including a win last week) in his last seven tournaments. He checks both boxes, and just like that, he’s the talk of the town.
Unsurprisingly, he ranks fairly high in our 2021 Masters power rankings below.
16. Cameron Smith: Quite a run for the Australian bulldog, who finished fifth in 2018 and then became the first player in Masters history with four rounds in the 60s last year — only to come in second place. His creativity keeps him in every hole, no matter the trouble.
15. Lee Westwood: The 47-year-old has had a bit of a reinassance lately, with two second-place finishes on the Florida swing. Those were hard, fast courses, which looks like it might be a benefit this week, and Westwood certainly knows his way around Augusta. This is his 16th start, with five top-eight finishes in his last eight stops.
14. Viktor Hovland: A former low amateur at Augusta, Hovland can get white-hot at the drop of a hat, which makes him a risk to make a run at any point. He’s just a few weeks removed from a four-tournament stretch in which he finished no worse than sixth.
13. Paul Casey: Hard to believe, but Casey is making his 15th Masters appearance, and that experience goes a long way, as evidenced by five top-10 finishes. He also enters with good form, finishing no worse than 10th in five of his last seven starts.
12. Webb Simpson: Simpson continues to test the narrative you need to be long to win the Masters, finishing 10th, fifth and 20th, respectively, in his last three appearances. He could benefit from faster, firmer conditions, especially considering how good he is with the flat stick.
11. Brooks Koepka: He might be the only player in the world not named after a large cat who could win a major tournament one month after knee surgery. He hasn’t played in more than a month, but he had a win and a second-place finish in two of his three events before shutting it down.
10. Patrick Reed: He won in 2018 and finished 10th in November. If the course is playing as fast and firm as everyone claims, it could benefit Reed, who won’t be shook by seeing his ball roll off the green. He’s as good as anyone around the green, and if the score plays closer to par than years past, he has proven he can go low when others go the other way.
9. Collin Morikawa: His game is better suited for the PGA Championship or U.S. Open, but the ball-striking is so good that he could make the putter problems a non-factor by just picking off pins all weekend. He also comes in having gained more than seven strokes tee-to-green in his last five starts.
8. Xander Schauffele: He was the forgotten man at the 2019 Masters, overshadowed by Tiger Woods, but Schauffele gained 11 strokes on the field that weekend en route to a second-place finish. He’s got three top-five finishes since the beginning of 2021.
7. Tony Finau: Finau’s win drought dominates the conversation, but don’t forget he has seven top-10 finishes in his last 11 major starts. He’s got the game to do it and is just a hot putting week away from taking the next step.
6. Rory McIlroy: There are parts of his game — most notably the driving and long irons — that suit him very well at Augusta, but he just hasn’t been able to put it all together and complete the career grand slam. The wedge play, however, remains unsightly, and he’s not in the best form. But it also wouldn’t be surprising to see him just go nuts finally and win it going away.
5. Jordan Spieth: We can finally say, without hesitation, Spieth is back. He’s coming off a career week at Houston, and he’s one of the greatest Masters players of all time despite being just 27. He has finished in the top three four times in seven starts, including his 2015 win.
4. Dustin Johnson: He’s the defending champion and the betting favorite. When he is on, he runs away and hides, and turns it into a laugher. The slight problem this year for DJ? He’s in relatively poor form, finishing no better than 28th in his three recent stops.
3. Bryson DeChambeau: It’s possible DeChambeau’s Hulk-smash style of play is actually neutralized at Augusta, where he doesn’t have an advantage when hacking it out of long rough like he did at Winged Foot to win the U.S. Open. But he hits it high and far, and with the course playing firm and fast, he’ll get even more distance throughout the weekend.
2. Justin Thomas: There’s arguably no one playing better than JT, who looks like the favorite based on recent Masters trends. He’s trying to become the first golfer since Woods to win the Players and the Masters in the same year.
1. Jon Rahm: When it comes to Rahm at majors, I am Dido, and I will go down with this ship. He might be the most talented golfer in the world, but he just can’t put it all together at majors. That’s probably because he tends to self-immolate like he did at Augusta in November, when he looked like the guy at your local muni when he shanked one into the woods and compounded it by hitting a branch on his next shot — or when he also shanked one in 2019. Yikes. But Rahm’s style is perfect for this course, and he comes in with the weight of the world off his shoulders after he and his wife welcomed their first child into the world a few days ago.