2017 Masters Tournament Predictions

Who will win the 2017 Masters Tournament? Our research staff offers previews and predictions. This is the year's first golf major, featuring an elite field of former champions and top players. The 2017 Masters Tournament is scheduled for April 6-9 at the famed Augusta National. 

⛳Preview

The Favorites

Dustin Johnson
*Withdrew from the Masters

Jordan Spieth
Best Result: Win (2015)
Driving: B
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: A-
Outlook: In his last three starts at the Augusta National, Spieth has one win and two runner-ups. His 2017 season is off to a terrific start with six top-25s including a win at Pebble Beach.

Rory McIlroy
Best Result: 4th (2015)
Driving: A+
Iron/Short Game: A
Putting: B
Outlook: On paper, McIlroy's game is a perfect fit for Augusta National. However, some of the Northern Irishman's worst rounds have come on this course. In 2011, he led the field by four shots going into the final round only to shoot an 80 to finish T15. He also has a 79 and four 77s. Even with these large numbers, he still posted six top-25s in eight career starts. This is more of a head case. 

The Contenders

Phil Mickelson
Best Result: Win (2004, 2006 & 2010)
Driving: C+
Iron/Short Game: A+
Putting: B
Outlook: History matters more at Augusta National than form. Players who achieved success here tend to continue to enjoy success. With three green jackets and eight other top-5s, one must never discount Big Lefty on this course. 

Adam Scott
Best Result: Win (2013)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: A
Putting: B-
Outlook: Scott won the Masters in 2013 and finished second at the 2012 Open Championship, both with an anchored putter. Since the ban came in effect, he has not been a factor at the majors. His last two starts at Augusta National were T38 and T42.

Lee Westwood 
Best Result: Second (2010 & 2016)
Driving: B+
Iron/Short Game: B
Putting: B-
Outlook: Although he has never won the Masters, his record here is one to be envied even by former champions. In his last seven starts, Westwood finished in the top 11 six times including two runner-ups. The Englishman held a lead or a share of the lead at the Masters numerous times during that span. His current form is mediocre, but he did finish T2 last year despite suffering from below-average form coming in.  

Justin Rose
Best Result: T2 (2015)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: B
Outlook: Along with fellow Englishman Westwood, Rose has enjoyed great success at the Augusta National despite without a win. In his 11 career starts, he finished in the top 25 nine times! The former U.S. Open champion will look to continue his good vibes here. Rose's 2017 season has been very good with three top-5 finishes.

Hideki Matsuyama
Best Result: 5th (2015)
Driving: B+
Iron/Short Game: A
Putting: C-
Outlook: Matsuyama is bidding to become the first Japanese major champion. He competed at the Masters twice as an amateur and made the cut both times. As a professional, he has two top-10s in three starts. His high ball flight and sterling iron game is a good fit for Augusta National. What has been holding him back is his subpar putting, though he tends to putt better on fast greens. After an incredible start to the season, he has failed to finish in the top 20 in his last four starts.

Players to Watch

Jon Rahm
Best Result: First career start
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: B
Outlook: Rahm's fast start to his professional career has him being compared to Tiger Woods. The former world no. 1 player won the Masters on his first start there as a professional, so Rahm will have an opportunity to match this feat. However, Woods had played Augusta National several times as an amateur while the young Spaniard will play the course for the first time. Only three players have won the Masters in their debut in the event's 82 editions. 

Zach Johnson
Best Result: Win (2007)
Driving: B-
Iron/Short Game: B+
Putting: A-
Outlook: Johnson is the least expected player to have won the Masters, as his game is a poor fit for Augusta National. He does not have the length of a Tiger Woods or the iron game of a Jordan Spieth to compete here. In 12 appearances, he finished under par only one time. However, Augusta National is forecast to be wet and windy which is similar to 2007 when Johnson eked out a win. He also won the 2015 Open Championship in similar conditions.  

Brandt Snedeker
Best Result: T3 (2008)
Driving: B
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: A
Outlook: Snedeker plays a similar game as Jordan Spieth. His iron game is excellent and his putting is superb. This has allowed him to find success even on golf courses like the Augusta National and Torrey Pines South that favor longer drivers of the ball. Snedeker made the cut at the Masters as an amateur in 2004 and since then has accumulated five top-20s.

Rickie Fowler
Best Result: T5 (2014)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: B+
Outlook: Fowler does not have a good record at the Masters mainly because of his inconsistent tee-to-green game and his penchant for risky shots. The Augusta National rewards good shots but heavily punishes bad shots. To have success here, one must find the right balance between risk-taking and position play. Phil Mickelson is the perfect model for Fowler to emulate if he wants to contend here. The four-time PGA Tour winner is enjoying fine form with one win and five other top-20s this season.

Bubba Watson
Best Result: Win (2012 & 2014)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: B
Putting: C+
Outlook: In spite of winning the Masters twice, Watson's record here is mixed. In eight career starts, he has no top-10 finish besides the two wins. Bubba has no top-10 finish in stroke play this season. 

Dark Horses

Marc Leishman
Best Result: T4 (2013)
Driving: B+
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: B+
Outlook: The Australian does a lot of things well -- strong tee to green, short game, putting. Yet, his record at the majors is mixed with some good finishes but also some poor performances. In his four career starts at the Masters, he missed the cut three times. What he lacks is a potent weapon like Dustin Johnson's length or Jordan Spieth's putting. However, his all-round game can be a big asset when the course conditions get difficult. Leishman is coming off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a T9 at WGC Match Play.

Justin Thomas
Best Result: T39 (2016)
Driving: A
Iron/Short Game: B+
Putting: B-
Outlook: Thomas loves courses with generous fairways and little to no rough. This is what he will get at the Augusta National. The recent inclement weather is expected to soften the course making it even more ideal for long-hitting Thomas. His main challenge this week will be to overcome the fast and undulating greens. All four of his career wins came on courses with slower greens. The expected wet weather will slow the greens somewhat, though the Augusta National does use a SubAir system to keep its greens to speed.

🏆Predictions

Winner: Rory McIlroy

On paper, McIlroy's game is a perfect fit for Augusta National. He hits the ball a long way with good accuracy and is superb with his irons. He can be streaky with his putter, but isn't any worse than the likes of Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson who have won the Masters multiple times. So why hasn't he won a Masters title after eight starts here? The answer has more to do with his head than his game. I have not seen a golfer with more mental breakdowns at the Masters than McIlroy. In 2011, he led the field by four shots going into the final round and held a lead after 64 holes only to be undone by an errant drive at the 10th hole en route to shooting an 80. In 2013, he hit the water twice in a span of three holes in the third round for a 79 to drop out from contention. He also has four rounds of 77 at the Masters. Even with these large numbers, he still posted six top-25s in eight career starts. 

I strongly believe McIlroy will break his Masters "curse" this week. With in-form Dustin Johnson and Mr. Augusta National (aka Jordan Spieth) getting all the attention, the four-time major champion can focus on what he does best which is to produce mammoth drives and stick the ball close to the pins. The expected soft conditions due to wet weather should aid McIlroy as well. His demeanor in the early rounds will tell us if he's ready to complete the career grand slam.   

Top 10 Finish: Justin Rose

The former U.S. Open champion enjoys one of the best records at the Masters for a non-champion. In eleven starts, he finished in the top 25 nine times! That's a pretty nice career for a lot of players. The former U.S. Open champion will look to continue his good vibes at the Masters and add a second major to his outstanding resume. Rose comes to Augusta National in stellar form, having already carded three top-5 finishes. The Englishman is a good pick for a hedge play.    

Top 25 Finish: Hideki Matsuyama

The Japanese's hot streak at the end of last year catapulted him into the rank of favorites for the Masters. Three months later, his stock has dropped appreciably. His ball-striking genius is still there, but the progress he made on his putting has seemingly evaporated. He is back to his old self -- a great iron player who couldn't putt well. Luckily for him, he has won plenty of times with subpar putting. Matsuyama won the Phoenix Open a month ago without making a lot of putts, and his comfort zone at the Augusta National is up there with TPC Scottsdale. The Japanese competed at the Masters twice as an amateur and made the cut both times. Last year, he was only two shots behind Spieth entering the final round. It will probably take an incredible display of ball striking for him to contend this year, but I would not bet against it.