I am a lousy handicapper of major championships. I average about one correct winner per year, and even when you let me pick multiple golfers, my record is not great. What can I say? Picking golf winners is second only to actually winning golf tournaments on the list of most difficult things to do in the sport.
There is credit to be had, though. Last year, even though I didn’t rank Danny Willett in my top nine, I did at least mention him. Here’s .
Of course, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed or Danny Willett could rise up and take this thing. Anything can happen when it comes to golf.
So maybe you should look to the bottom of my piece this time. No, we’ll get this right. One of these nine golfers will wear a green jacket in 2017. I promise. (Probably.)
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1. Dustin Johnson: Not sure who else you were expecting here.
2. Jordan Spieth: He is 25 under in three starts here. He has never seen third place or worse. He won earlier this year. He should probably win a few more of these, and he will be on this list for the next 10 years. For me, anyway.
Last year, Jordan Spieth became the first player since Tom Watson in 1977-79 with 3 straight top-2 finishes in the Masters.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) April 3, 2017
3. Rory McIlroy: Top 10s in each of his past two years. It feels like he’s starting to dial up the code.
4. Justin Rose: He gets lost amid the hubbub of the top stars in the sport, but he’s every bit the ball-striker the other best players in the world are. His record of late at Augusta National has been pristine, too.
5. Justin Thomas: He has the gear you need to run away and hide at majors. He also craves the moment. He has had a (way) up-and-down year so far, but in a few short seasons his focus has been dialed into winning majors.
6. Rickie Fowler: He has top 12s in two of his past three outings here and is coming off a great six weeks that included a win at the Honda Classic and a top five at the Houston Open. He missed the cut last year, but that was an anomaly. If he’s rolling in 15-footers this week, it could be on.
“I’m making a lot of birdies right now, and that bodes well around this golf course,” Fowler said Monday. “You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have to settle for bogeys here and there. I have allowed myself to overcome mistakes and bogeys and, unfortunately, some doubles in the past couple tournaments.”
7. Phil Mickelson: I’m not sure at what point I’ll stop thinking Mickelson can win this event. Maybe when they stick him in the group hitting the ceremonial tee shot. Still, even then I’ll believe he can chase that first one and pull off a miracle 68 at 74.
8. Paul Casey: I love Casey this week. He has been playing good not great coming in, but he’s a guy who just gets in that Masters mood. Top 10s in each of his past two here.
9. Jon Rahm: I’m not scared of the first-timer winning. It hasn’t happened in nearly 40 years, but Rahm is not the typical first-timer. He might actually be an all-timer, and none of us are aware of it yet.
Of course, Tyrrell Hatton, Jimmy Walker or Kevin Kisner could rise up and take this thing (so could Charley Hoffman, Kevin Na or Brooks Koepka). Anything can happen when it comes to golf.