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And The Winner Of The 2015 Masters Will Be ...
Well, if I knew who would win this week's Masters Tournament, the first of golf's four Grand Slams, then I wouldn't be sharing it -- I'd be betting it and taking my winnings to retire on some Caribbean island with a gaggle of models. But perhaps working through the elimination game we can help narrow down who wins.
First-Timer Not A Good Bet
For example, over the last 76 years, only one player has won the Masters in his first visit to Augusta. That was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. So go ahead and forget the 20 first-timers in this year's field. In the last 68 years, only two players have even won in one of their first two Masters starts: Zoeller and Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Thus that could eliminate 15 more players, including red-hot Jordan Spieth as well as last week's winner in Houston, J.B. Holmes.
Each of the last 17 champions made the cut in the prior year's Masters. The last player to win after not making the previous year's cut was Tiger Woods in 1997. That could thus rule out some big names like Woods, three-time winner Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. No European has won the Masters since 1999 so does that mean to eliminate world No. 1 Rory McIlroy?
There hasn't been a Masters winner at least 40 years old since Mark O'Meara in 1998. Sorry then, Jim Furyk and 15 others. Each of the last nine majors have been won by a player ranked 28th or better in the World Golf Rankings. So forget about long shots and Tiger again.
The biggest story lines this week of course involve Tiger looking for another green jacket. McIlroy has a chance to complete the career grand slam and win his third consecutive major. Bubba Watson could make it three wins in four years. It's also Ben Crenshaw's final Masters. A total of 54 of the world's Top 60 are in the 98-man field, which is a rather large number for this tournament.
The Bovada Favorites
Rory McIlroy (13/2): His play early on this season has left something to be desired for the world's No. 1 player. Since winning the PGA Championship last August, McIlroy has spent the last eight months obsessing about this week. He was a career-best eighth here last year.
Jordan Spieth (9/1): No player has been hotter the last month than the 21-year-old Spieth. In nine starts this season, he has already amassed six top-10 finishes, including a win at the Valspar Championship, followed by back-to-back runner-up finishes -- all of those in his last three starts. In his first Masters start a year ago, Spieth nearly became the tournament's youngest winner. He had a share of the 54-hole lead, but settled for a tie for second.
Bubba Watson (11/1): Watson has the chance to become just the second man to win three Green Jackets in four years, joining Jack Nicklaus (1963, ‘65-66). Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Woods (2001-02) are the only others to win back-to-back.
Dustin Johnson (14/1): In five starts at Augusta National, Johnson's best finish is a T13 in 2013. It's the only major in which he's failed to record a top 10. Something has got to give there. Length is a huge advantage at Augusta National and there are few in the game as long as Johnson.
Jason Day (14/1): Day was second here in 2011 and followed with a T-3 finish in 2013, the lone two times the Aussie has been fully healthy at this event. He is in good shape this time around, boosted by his win at the Farmers Insurance Open in February. He leads the Tour in par-4 scoring and all-around.
Our choice: Day, who is overdue for a major.
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