One of the most popular features of Work Hangover 1.0 was our 10 to Win series prior to each major championship. For the newcomers, here’s how it works. We write about 10 golfers we think can win the tournament. I’ll give you a moment to make sure you grasp the concept.
Now, back when we were writing these posts and there were tournaments being played – it was a simpler time – we would make things interesting by making some kind of wager with our legion of readers. As an example, we missed the winner of a US Open one year and ended up in a white tank top and jean shorts for a day. Of course, all the times we were correct, you people never had to do anything.
Anyway, as we sit here on Thursday of Masters week, we were feeling nostalgic and figured we’d write the 10 to Win column and envision what the tournament would have been like this week. Plus, this will save us some time in November because it’s not like you’ll remember who we picked this week.
Let’s get started. As we began our in-depth research into this column, we visited masters.com to, you know, find the list of players. When you arrive at masters.com, the leaderboard from the 2019 tournament is displayed. Obviously, Tiger winning will be one of the stories we hear about for the rest of our lives, much like Jack winning in 1986. But what will get lost is the list of golfers that finished in the top 10. How does this look like for a top 10: DJ, Koepka, Schauffele, Day, Simpson, Molinari, Finau, Rahm, Cantlay, Fowler. Geez. Let’s expand a few more names…Watson, Thomas, Kuchar. Oh. And now all those guys know what Mickelson, Els, Singh and the other top players of the 2000s know what Sunday at the Masters Tiger really feels like.
Without further ado, your 2020 Masters winner, if it was being played this week, will come from this group (in alphabetical order):
Patrick Cantlay – Cantlay played in the 2012 Masters as an amateur and made the cut, and then didn’t make it back until 2018. He has come on in the last year and when he was dropping f bombs while beating Joaquin Niemann in singles at the 2019 President’s Cup, we thought “if there’s a global pandemic and we restart Work Hangover, he’s gonna be on the list of 10 to Win the Masters.”
Tony Finau – Last night, we were watching a replay of the 2018 Par 3 Tournament, which is one of the coolest traditions in sports. ESPN was showing it because Jack Nicklaus’ grandson gets a hole in one, but the real highlight was watching Finau get a hole in one, run down the course, dislocate his ankle, then pop it back in and keep playing. He finished Top 10 in that year’s tournament on a dislocated ankle. Certain players just always play well at Augusta, and Finau seems to be one of those players with back to back top 10s.
Quick digression: Imagine the night before Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Lebron, KD and Steph play a 3 on 3 game against Jordan, Magic, and Bird. Would be pretty awesome, right? Well, that’s the Par 3 tournament. Take the time to watch it in November.
Tommy Fleetwood – Fleetwood has shown a knack for strong final rounds in majors, but the problem has been how far out of the lead he was going into said final rounds. That said, the Englishman is a talented player and has the game to win. Plus, if you follow @edsbs on Twitter, he has a great running bit called #EnglandorAlabama – let’s just say Fleetwood makes the All #EnglandorAlabama Team.
Sungjae Im – Ordinarily, we avoid first timers in the 10 to Win at Augusta because, well, first timers never win here. The last person to do so was Fuzzy Zoeller, and that was over 40 years ago. So, why Im? Well, we may be putting too much stock in the President’s Cup, but he was great there and then backed it up with a win at the Honda Classic this year. More importantly, last year Im played 29 tournaments in the US, and has no place to live. As Golf Digest put it, “the 21-year old South Korean simply moves from hotel to hotel, content to live a simple life of eating, sleeping and playing golf.” Plus, the Green Jacket ceremony is always awkward in Butler Cabin – how do you make it more awkward? Add in a translator.
Brooks Koepka – Listen, the best player at the Majors in the world is Brooks Koepka. So, until that changes, he’ll be on this list. Last year, he essentially said these are the only weeks he actually practices. In the last three years, he has won 4 majors, and in 2019 he finished T2, 1, 2 and T4 in the four majors.
Rory McIlroy – Listen, the best player in the world is Rory McIlroy. So, until that changes, he’ll be on this list. True, he has his demons at Augusta National from his 2011 collapse on the back nine but when Rory is on, he’s better than everyone. In 2019, he started 19 tournaments and finished in the top 10 14 times, won 3 times, won the FedEx Cup, and had the lowest scoring average on tour. In two starts in 2020, he won once and finished 3rd the other time.
Louis Oosthuizen – This year’s winner of the WH Paddy Harrington Award for golfer who gets picked to this list with no real logical explanation. Louis has the smoothest swing on tour since Fred Couples, has been close in a couple Masters and is totally unflappable. Plus, it just feels like it’s time for a random South African to win. Has it really been 9 years since Charl Schwartzel’s magical finish?!?
Justin Rose – W can’t decide if Rose has underachieved or overachieved in his career. He’s a guy that always put himself in the mix, but you feel like he should win more than he does. Of course, a year ago, he was the top-ranked player in the world, but his 2013 US Open win was seven years ago. He lost in a playoff to Sergio in 2017 at the Masters, and his game suits Augusta as he’s had 5 top 10s in his career. But he also missed the cut last year. The lesson, as always, we have no idea.
Xander Schauffele – Schauffele is another one of the young Americans who is really, really good. He doesn’t get the publicity of a Fowler, Spieth, or Justin Thomas, but he’s proven he’s able to take those guys on head to head and win, like in 2017 when he beat Thomas in the Tour Championship. He’s only played in 11 majors in his career but has finished in the Top 10 5 times, including his T2 at Augusta last year.
Justin Thomas – Thomas turned pro in 2013 and earned his PGA Tour card in 2015. In the past 5 years, he’s won 12 tournaments, 1 major, the FedEx Cup in 2017 and worked his way up to the being the #1 ranked player in the world. Which is absurd. But somehow, feels like he could have done more. We’ll be shocked if Thomas never slips a green jacket on those scrawny little shoulders.
Well, there you have it. The obvious omission is Mr. Woods, but frankly, it’s hard to know if he is even healthy. Granted, he could stroll into Augusta having not touched a club in 6 months and finish in the top 10 on muscle memory alone, but there’s an enormous difference in top 10 and winning. He knows that better than anyone. Our guess is he’s pretty pleased it was postponed to give himself some more time to get healthy, if his early 2020 results are any indication.
While you won’t have the ability to pretend your working today with the Masters.com live stream playing on your second monitor, we hope this scratches a little bit of the itch for the best golf tournament of the year. Either way, if you’re looking for a good way to make a quick buck 7 months from now, place your bets accordingly.*
*Work Hangover is not responsible for your poor choices and any financial repercussions as a result of said poor choices.