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It has arrived….Masters week! Personally, this is my favorite event in all of sports. I love the stage and the history - all of which leads to an incredibly memorable week, each and every year.
There are always specific storylines for fans to follow once play begins Thursday morning, but the 2016 Masters will have more than usual.
Jason Day is currently number one in the world, and is coming to Augusta for the first time with a major championship under his belt. He has had close calls in the past - with the most recent coming in 2013 when he finished two shots out of a playoff - but he has now proved that he knows how to win on the grandest stages, leaving many to believe that this could be his week.
Despite a Sunday charge at the Shell Houston Open, Jordan Spieth is not coming into Augusta with the same level of confidence that he did last year, leaving many to wonder whether he will even contend this week. Much has been made of the “Big 3” - Spieth, Day & McIlroy - and Augusta would be the perfect stage for a stellar battle. It is something the golf world desperately wants to see become a reality.
Speaking of the Big 3, a win this week from Rickie Fowler could take this trio and make it a quartet. Fowler has admitted that he does not feel he deserves to be mentioned within golf’s elite until he has a major championship on his resume. Rickie has been tremendous in the majors over the last couple of years, and he is right in saying that the only thing that separates him from golf’s elite is a major championship. A win at Augusta is certainly not out of the question.
Bubba is looking for a third green jacket, and he is playing some of the best golf of his career. He won a month and a half ago at Riviera, and was runner-up at Doral’s World Golf Championship. He knows Augusta, has confidence at Augusta, and as a result, he should be a heavy favorite this week. On a side note, a win this week would make it 10 career wins, leading many to wonder if he will in fact retire, which he has said would be his desire if he ever reached this milestone.
Last week, we witnessed a terrific Cinderella story when Jim Herman won the Shell Houston Open. To see a man with basically no experience leading PGA Tour events go out and snatch the title from the likes of Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson was inspiring to say the least. The win afforded him the opportunity to compete this week, and I for one am excited to see if he can add any more excitement to an already wonderful storyline.
There is a lot to follow this week, and a lot to look forward to, but in the end, players simply have to rise up and perform. Here are my personal favorites for who will do just that.
Bubba Watson - It is amazing to me that he has not received more praise for his stellar play of late. His record so far this year says that he has a very real shot at his third Green Jacket.
Justin Rose - Last year’s runner-up. When asked after the round what he needs to do in the future to win this event, he essentially said perform the same way he did in 2015 - and he’s correct. His performance last year would win most Masters tournaments. Rose is coming in having established himself as one of the elite performers in majors over the course of the last year.
Jason Day - Is primed to win his first Masters title. Is coming off back to back wins in big events (Arnold Palmer & WGC Match-Play), which has allowed him to once again establish the supreme confidence which allowed him to win multiple events last summer - including the PGA Championship. One thing to keep an eye on is the fact that he is recovering from flu-like symptoms which caused him to lose significant weight. It is possible that this could affect his performance.
Adam Scott - Another double winner this season, and a former Masters champion who understands what he needs to do to win this tournament. His last four stroke play events have seen him record T2, 1st, 1st & T12 finishes.
Rory McIlroy - Looking to complete the career slam. He’s one who could absolutely win, but in order to do so is going to have to prevent against big numbers that remove him from contention. Despite some terrific play at the WGC Match-Play, this has become a habit which has cost him dearly over the last couple months.
Phil Mickelson - A three-time winner at Augusta - a veteran who clearly knows how to play this event. Finished T2 last year, and is coming into this week playing some of the best golf we have seen him produce in the last few years. I certainly wouldn’t bet against Phil.
Jordan Spieth - I think he’ll play well this week, which will leave some surprised when it really shouldn’t. He is the defending champion, almost won the year prior, and has repeatedly displayed the ability to perform when the stage is at it’s biggest.
Henrik Stenson - Continued his solid play of late with a runner-up finish at last week’s Shell Houston Open. Combine this with his T3 finish at Bay Hill, and you have a man ready to contend this week.
Rickie Fowler - Has won an “unofficial” major in the Players, but is still seeking major champion status. His play in the majors over the last two years has been very impressive. He is primed for a win.
Hideki Matsuyama - One of the more consistent performers on Tour over the last 12 months. Finished 5th at last year’s event.
Dustin Johnson - Consistently puts himself in contention, but remains a little bit of a wild card due to his struggles closing out events. Certainly has the game to win this week, but the argument could be made that to do so, he will have to get out of his own way.
Bryson Dechambeau - In a recent interview, golf announcer Jim Nantz said that he would not be surprised to see this young man contend. The reigning U.S. Amatuer champion is known for meticulous preparation, and has put that into practice over the last few months as he has been getting ready for his Masters debut. This will be his last event before turning professional.
Matt Kuchar - Struggled last year, finishing T46, but his record in the previous three Masters reveals that he could be a very valuable pick. Past finishes include T5 (2014), T8 (2013) & T3 (2012).
And now for my DraftKings lineup for the week - where participants can compete for the $1,000,000 prize.
It goes without saying that I am certainly excited to be playing for a million dollar prize this week. However, I realize that if I want any shot at it, a couple things are going to have to happen. First, there will have to be some surprises atop this week’s leaderboard, and second, I need to pick those players. For this reason, I’m banking on Watson & Stenson to play as they are expected to, and taking a chance on Moore, Leishman & DeChambeau. Matt Kuchar is a “calculated risk” due to his track record, but in the case of Moore, Leishman & especially DeChambeau, the risk is slightly greater.
Bubba Watson - $11,400
Henrik Stenson - $9,600
Matt Kuchar - $7,800
Ryan Moore - $6,800
Marc Leishman - $7,900
Bryson DeChambeau - $6,500
This article was written by Jonathan Carr (@jonathanwcarr) as part of our weekly #FantasyGolf series. Each week we preview the upcoming PGA Tour event and highlight some of the players we'll be keeping an eye on. As a scratch golfer himself, Jonathan has a keen eye for what it takes to be successful on and off the golf course. His passion for golf is surpassed only by his passion for his faith and his family.
Read some of Jonathan's other articles here.