The Masters is the one week of the golf season where you can be sure everyone in sports is paying attention. It's week where the average golf fan -- and even the non-fan -- join us die-hards for four days of immersion in the world of par-breakers and shot-shapers. Because of this, often you need somebody to cheer on, a story to get behind. That's why we're here.
Below, you will find a list of 10 golfers and reasons why you should root for each of them. Now, I didn't include guys like U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale, who is a firefighter by day, because Parziale has no chance of winning this tournament. He's the easiest person in the field to root on, but I wanted to give you golfers who have realistic chances of wearing green on Sunday.
Visit SportsLine now to see who you can bank on to win the 2018 Masters and which long shots will make a run. Plus, we predict Tiger Woods' finish. All from the model that nailed three 2017 majors heading into the weekend.
This year is different than most recently because, and so many of the stories in golf revolve around or involve him and his history. He is included in my list, and he's sort of an obvious No. 1. Rooting for him is rooting against F. Scott Fitzgerald, who famously once said: "There are no second acts in American lives." (Tiger may well be on his third.)
With all of that in mind, here are 10 golfers to root for at the 2018 Masters.
|I genuinely wanted to put him lower on this list, but I couldn't get around the idea of rooting for Tiger coming down the stretch on Sunday at Augusta National. An aging (and once again competative) Woods grappling with another major and trying to hold off the wunderkinds he helped forge at a place where so much of his legend has been formed is probably the most compelling story in sports. I understand if you oppose Woods for his on- or off-course behavior, but there are few bigger thrills in golf right now than a 42-year-old Tiger taking hold of a tournament and putting his Big Cat-shaped stamp all over the thing. |
|Look, I get your disdain. I understand the hesitation to really get behind somebody who says he's been struggling for years even though his salary clears the GDP of at least a handful of countries. But at some point in the next five years, Lefty is going to make a run at this course, and you're going to forget all of that. For three hours, you're going to be wrapped up in this notion that somebody just shy of (or just past) his 50th birthday can win the most prestigious golf tournament in the world. It's going to be unbelievable, and I don't want anyone to miss it. And who knows, it could be this year. Mickelson is having his best season in a half decade. He already has a win and finished T2 here in 2015. There's magic left in those arthritic bones. The question is whether it will all come spilling out at once. |
|The tales are true. The stories are genuine. Fowler really is that nice. He's also approaching "most accomplished without a major championship" territory. That (probably) won't last forever, and it would be tough to envision a more galvanizing winner come Sunday. |
|I said it last year, and I'll say it again. To root for McIlroy is to root for history. McIlroy is trying to join a group of Grand Slam-winning golfers that includes Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Woods. This is his fourth run at the crown at Augusta, where each of the last three have ended with a top 10 finish. |
|All dads unite. The (probably) fanny pack-wearing Kuchar is simultaneously the most cunning and least dangerous man in this sport. His team event pranks will be talked about as long as team events exist, and his "oh phooey" routine after missed shots resonates with even the most casual of golf fans. After Jordan Spieth stole his soul at Royal Birkdale and The Open last year, a victory here would be incredible. Plus, he needs a pair of those Mickelsonian kicks. |
|The big Australian might be the least known man on this list, but he got to play alongside Adam Scott in 2013 when his fellow countryman took home Australia's first Masters. Three years ago, Leishman had to miss the Masters because his wife, Audrey, almost died. He seems very much the everyman, but he strikes the ball like no man. He's an easy guy to root for, and the miniature green jackets would be absolutely adorable. |
|This Englishman is coming off a career year in 2017. He also had a kid and got married, and he is one of the most lighthearted, upbeat personalities I've ever been around. I know a lot of people go straight stars and stripes this time of year, but if you want to go the European route, Fleetwood's unique swing and sterling personality are easy to ride for. |
|Are we just going to ignore the potential of Sergio going back to back with his wife giving birth to a daughter, Azalea, in between the two victories? After serving as golf's tragic hero (or villain) for two decades, a great cap to his outrageously underrated career would be a pair of jackets to hang in the baby's closet at home. |
|Hey guys, still here. If you're rooting for Spieth, you're rooting for a different kind of history. There is a scenario in which Spieth matches Tiger and Arnold Palmer with four or even Jack Nicklaus with six. Are those likely outcomes? Probably not, but Spieth should already have two (and maybe three), and he's not even 25 yet. His dominance at this course will only be determined over time, but with four top 11s in four starts, he could not be off to a more emphatic start. |
|I understand that he's not the easiest personality to root for on television, but there are few more interesting and professional folks than Rose in the game today. After he lost in heartbreaking fashion to Garcia in the playoff last year, this year would be some sweet redemption for Rose, who almost exclusively bags elite course. I think Augusta qualifies. |