Back in April, it was a simpler time. We figured COVID would last a few weeks so we started a blog and figured it would probably not last much longer. Well, here we are in November and COVID still exists, and perhaps more surprisingly, this blog still exists.
Way back when, we were longing for the Masters so we wrote a column picking who we thought would win the Masters. And to be honest, our picks from April look pretty good: Cantlay, Finau, Fleetwood, Im, Koepka, McIlroy, Oosthuizen, Rose, Schauffele, and Thomas. We thought about just copying and pasting that column – not like any of you actually read it before – but we hold ourselves to a higher standard than that. Not much higher, but at least a little bit higher. Without further ado, let’s see who are the OFFICIAL 10 to Win the 2020 Masters.
Patrick Cantlay – Back in April, we picked him based off his performance in the previous fall’s Presidents Cup. Now, we’re picking him because he just won a tournament, so his game’s on point. Plus, as we said back in April, 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.”
Bryson DeChambeau – When we wrote our first edition of this column, DeChambeau was an average-sized golfer, known more for his peculiar single-length irons than his success. Now, he’s a major champion, eats 39 eggs, 24 protein shakes, and six shots of steroids daily. We don’t like him, but you can’t create a list of 10 players that might win the Masters without him on it. In his press conference today, he talked about having a pitching wedge into the 500 yard 11th hole, which seems to be the hardest hole on the course every year. If he plays like he did at Oakmont, he might shoot 20-under. And then the membership at Augusta National will frame him for murder so he’s never allowed back. While you win the Masters on and around the greens, if you never have anything more than an 8-iron on your second shot, including par 5s, you’ll have a significant advantage. We just hope the Augusta National tailors can make a 52 short.
Rickie Fowler – This might be a sentimental pick, but Rickie has played very well at Augusta over the years, finishing in the top 12 five times in the past six years. The last two years, he has shot four rounds in the 60s on the weekend, finishing 2nd and 9th those two years. Rickie has been close in every major but hasn’t finished one out yet. As we mentioned, he’s one of the guys we’re rooting for and it is hard to imagine a more popular winner among his peers. While he is very popular among fans, and would have a huge gallery following him ordinarily, we wonder if the lack of fans might help him, given his reputation as a bridesmaid rather than the bride. Do the crowds add some pressure that prevents him from closing the deal at the biggest tournaments? We’ll know the answer if he wins this week, and that’s science.
Tyrrell Hatton – Augusta is a course that just suits certain people, and they are always in contention. It’s why it’s not insane to think Mickelson has an outside chance to win. Or why we’re including Rickie Fowler on this list. So, naturally, we’re including Hatton who has career finishes are Missed Cut, T44 & T56. Despite his lackluster performances in his first three trips to Augusta, Hatton made the list because of how well he has played in 2020. He won his first PGA Tour event at Bay Hill, he won in Europe and he executed the most graceful club toss in recorded history. The rainy forecast probably suits Hatton with his British forecast, too. Plus, there’s a Masters rule that one Englishman must be on the leaderboard every Sunday.
Dustin Johnson – Sandwiches. Why are we picking DJ? Sandwiches. If you have 15 minutes free – and let’s be honest, if you’re reading this you’ve got free time – watch his pre-tournament press conference. Some golfers make things complicated. Some make it simple. DJ makes it really, really simple. When asked his favorite Masters tradition, he responded, “Sandwiches.” As long as DJ doesn’t fall down the stairs while doing his annual Risky Business remake in his rental house, he’ll be in the mix on Sunday.
Brooks Koepka – Brooks appears to be healthy, and he’s got a positive track record at Augusta. Each year, his finish at Augusta has improved, culminating with a T2 last year. This isn’t complicated. If he’s healthy, and it’s a major, he’ll be a factor.
Rory McIlroy – Our personal favorite this week, we’re picking him because we want him to win. The narrative on Rory is that he has too much scar tissue from his back nine meltdown on Sunday in 2011. Since then, he’s won 4 majors and has 5 top-10s in 8 tries at Augusta. We would all wish to be so damaged. On the flip side, even with those top 10s, it’s never really felt like he was in prime contention, often due to one bad round…or even just one bad nine-hole stretch. Anyway, we think (hope?) that a Masters without fans, in November, during a pandemic with all the attention on everyone else, allows Rory to play freely. And Rory playing freely, on a soft golf course, is a recipe that has led to major success for him. Could this be the year he finally gets his Green Jacket and enters the golf pantheon of career Grand Slam winners.
Jon Rahm – Back in April, we didn’t include Rahm, and we had a loyal reader question our sanity. Thanks, Mom. Since then, Rahm has won twice and risen to #1 in the World Golf Rankings (he’s currently #2). He also pulled off some of the shots of the year, with his chip in at Memorial and his 66-foot putt to win the BMW Championship in a playoff. He’s great, and we won’t be surprised if he joins Seve, Olazabal and Sergio as Spanish Masters Champions.
Justin Thomas – Augusta National Golf Course is what the experts call a second-shot course. For those of you unfamiliar with this highly technical golf term, this means that your second shot on each hole is the most important. To dig a little deeper, you can be a little erratic with your driver, but your approach the green is where you can’t be erratic. So, who is good at approach shots? Well, fortunately, there’s a stat for that. It’s called Shots Gained: Approach. Who led the PGA Tour in this highly scientific stat? Justin Thomas.
Bubba Watson – Sometimes, we use science to make our picks. Sometimes, we think science doesn’t really know. Hence, Bubba. Bubba has two Green Jackets on the strength of his creativity. Sure, he hits it a long way, but it’s been his imagination, and in turn, his ability to turn his imagination into a reality. He’s also quietly played some pretty solid golf this year, so we won’t be surprised to see him crying on the 18th green on Sunday.
Ok, friends. There you have it. Load up the pimiento cheese, sit back and enjoy watching the escape to a little slice of heaven. Fore please!