Way back in early April when they postponed the Masters, we did a hypothetical Ten to Win for no other reason than there were literally no sports happening, so we had to come up with something. For both of you that have stuck with us through the ensuing seven months, our kudos. Frankly, we weren’t sure we’d still be around, much less anyone actual reading it.
Well, it is now actual Masters Week, the coronavirus is a thing of the past and all our sports are back to normal like they never left. What’s that? Half the SEC games this week are cancelled due to COVID? That can’t be true. No, I don’t believe you. A really trustworthy guy told me that he saved football and COVID would end November 4th. Do you think…he lied to me?
Sorry, we digress. Where were we?
That’s right. The Masters. As we type this, the greatest dinner party of all-time is taking place, and Tiger decided to serve…fajitas. He’s either trying to intentionally give his opponents diarrhea or he’s just out of ideas after winning the tournament too many times. Regardless, there’s no dinner we’d rather be a bus boy for than the Masters Champions Dinner.
While we’ll examine our 10 to Win from April and make some updates to it before the tournament, we thought we’d share the five players we are rooting for to win the most. We don’t necessarily think they have a chance, but these five golfers are the ones we would love to see put on a Green Jacket late Sunday afternoon.
Patrick Reed – Just kidding.
Rory McIlroy – It’s difficult to believe that it has been 6 years since Rory’s last major win, and even harder to believe it’s been 9 years since his final round meltdown at Augusta. He seemed to handle that collapse pretty well, bouncing back to win the US Open that year and three more majors over the next three years. But he’s never been the same at Augusta since that fateful Sunday, leading some to wonder if he’ll ever solve the Augusta riddle. Well, what better time than 2020. The tournament is in November, there are no fans, and he won’t have any of those pesky azaleas causing allergies. If Rory can win, he’ll claim the career Grand Slam which is an incredibly significant achievement in the sport of golf, and we always appreciate watching history. Rory comes across to us as an incredibly thoughtful, likable guy who is about as normal as you could be when you’ve lived the life he has. Since 2014, he’s had the 5th best scoring average at Augusta, so he plays the course well, but seems to always have one bad round, or even just one bad 9 hole stretch that takes him out of contention. Rory talked about how much he enjoys his visits to Augusta with his dad each fall. So maybe, just maybe, he can channel that pressure-free feeling and summon up the best golf of his major career and claim his first Green Jacket and his spot in golf history.
Rickie Fowler – Listen, it is 2020, and we need some good news. And having one of the nicest and most popular guys on tour win the Masters after a career of close calls is some great news. You would be hard-pressed to find a more popular winner among his peers, and the receiving line of his fellow competitors might not be quite as impressive as Tiger’s last year, but it would be close. He’s played well at Augusta – top 12 finishes 5 of last 6 years – and he’s also firmly in the discussion of the best golfer yet to win a major. Plus, you know Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth let him know about his lack of a major every time they’re out playing casual rounds together. So, let’s have one of the good guys win one.
Phil MIckelson – You won’t see Phil on our list of 10 to Win, but if a 50-year-old is ever going to win the Masters, it’s Phil. At least until Tiger turns 50. For our generation, Phil has always been the Arnie to Tiger’s Jack. While Tiger was revered, Phil, like Arnie, was the people’s champ. The two are inextricably tied to each other, and each made the other better. For most of his career, whatever Phil did, Tiger would do something just a little better. Well, how sweet would it be for Phil to follow Tiger’s win last year with one final win, and matching Arnie with 4 Masters victories. His errant tee shots aren’t as penal here, and no one knows this course better. We just hope he doesn’t spill coffee all over his Green Jacket. Or his $70 hats that he’s hawking now. But, despite his recent turn as a used car salesman, we still would enjoy seeing him win.
Tony Finau – We have few rules when it comes to choosing our favorites to win a tournament and one of those rules is that any time you dislocate your ankle celebrating a hole-in-one, pop it back in place, walk it off and then finish top 10 in the Masters, you make this list. It’s science. We can’t argue with it.
Jordan Spieth – It’s hard to feel sorry for a 27-year-old with 14 career wins, 3 majors and $41 million in career earnings, but we feel sorry for Jordan Spieth. It’s difficult to comprehend the steep decline his game has taken over the past couple years. The first time Spieth played the Masters, he finished second. The second time, he tied the all-time scoring record and won the Green Jacket. His third time playing the Masters, he had a 5-shot lead on the 10th tee on Sunday. A quadruple-bogey on 12 ruined his chances that year and ever since, he hasn’t been quite the same at Augusta. He still plays really well at Augusta, as he has the best scoring average since 2014 of anyone who has played at the Masters in that time. His struggles have extended beyond Augusta the past couple of years and as long as he can keep the ball out of Rae’s Creek, he could wake the echoes of his past success at Augusta. Again, we don’t think he’ll actually do it, but we’ll be rooting for him.