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2018 Masters Tournament - Preview, Predictions, Picks

Who will win the 2018 Masters Tournament? Our research staff offers previews and predictions for the 2018 Masters. This is the year's first golf major, featuring an elite field of former champions and top players. Sergio Garcia is the defending champion. The 2018 Masters Tournament is scheduled for April 5-8 at the famed Augusta National. 
⛳Preview

The Favorites

Justin Thomas
Best result: T22 (2017)
Driving: A
Iron/Short Game: B+
Putting: B+ 
Outlook: Justin Thomas comes into the Masters with the best form of anyone in the field. The PGA champion, who is already a two-time winner this season, has recorded four straight top-10 finishes -- all of which were at highly regarded venues. Moreover, Thomas loves courses with generous fairways and little to no rough. This is what he will get at the Augusta National. His main challenge this week will be to overcome the fast and undulating greens. Most of his career wins came on courses with moderate to slow green speeds. 

Jordan Spieth
Best result: Win (2015)
Driving: B
Iron/Short Game: A
Putting: B- for 2018 | A- historically
Outlook: In his four career starts at the Augusta National, Spieth has one win and two runner-ups. His worst finish was a T11. Suffice to say, the famed course fits his eyes. Spieth played well in the final tune-up to the Masters, finishing in the top 3 at the Houston Open.

Dustin Johnson
Best result: T4 (2016)
Driving: A
Iron/Short Game: B+
Putting: B
Outlook: After starting the year strongly, the world no. 1 player has seen his fortunes slipping quite a bit. However, he (along with McIlroy) is still the most talented player since Tiger Woods; his ability to overpower a golf course cannot be understated. 

The Contenders

Phil Mickelson
Best result: Win (2004, 2006 & 2010)
Driving: B
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. Mickelson is enjoying a resurgent year, punctuated by an emphatic win at WGC Mexico. If he wins this week, he would become the oldest major winner surpassing the great Jack Nicklaus. 

Justin Rose
Best result: 2nd (2017), T2 (2015)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: B
Outlook: Despite not having a win, Rose has enjoyed great success at the Augusta National. In his 12 career starts, he finished in the top 25 ten times! The former U.S. Open champion will look to improve upon his runner-up finish last year with a long overdue second major title. Rose is enjoying a strong season with victory at the HSBC Champions and several other top-10s. 

Rory McIlroy
Best result: 4th (2015)
Driving: A+
Iron/Short Game: B+
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 80 to finish T15. He also has a 79 and four 77s. Even with these large numbers, Rory still posted seven top-25s in eight career starts. By the law of averages, his time will come sooner rather than later. McIlroy recently ended his mini title slump with a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Bubba Watson
Best result: Win (2012 & 2014)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: B
Putting: B+
Outlook: In spite of winning the Masters twice, Watson's record here is mixed. In nine career starts, he has no top-10 finish besides the two wins. Bubba missed the cut last year. Still, the Pensacola native comes into this week in terrific form with two wins this season including the WGC match play title two weeks ago. 

Tiger Woods
Best result: Win (1997, 2001, 2002 & 2005)
Driving: B
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: B+
Outlook: The 14-time major winner won his first major at the Masters and has since compiled a remarkable record with four wins and nine other top-10s. Woods is riding on a hot streak with five top-25s in his last six worldwide starts including two consecutive top-5s. A win here could propel Tiger to another run of dominance. 

Players to Watch

Hideki Matsuyama
Best result: 5th (2015)
Driving: B
Iron/Short Game: A-
Putting: B-
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 three top-11s in four 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 missing nearly a month due to a wrist injury, Hideki has been working steadily to regain form. The key for him is still his putting.

Jason Day
Best result: T2 (2011)
Driving: B+
Iron/Short Game: B+
Putting: B+
Outlook: Day arrives to the Augusta National in good form, having yet to miss a cut this season. The former top-ranked player has also never missed a cut at the Masters in seven appearances; he did withdraw from the event in 2012 due to an injured ankle. The 2018 Farmers Open winner is a perennial contender at the majors with 14 career top-10s including 4 runner-ups. 

Jon Rahm
Best result: T27 (2017)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: B
Putting: B
Outlook: Rahm's fast start to his professional career has him being compared to Tiger Woods. The Spanish sensation started strongly last year on his Masters debut but faded in the weekend. Overall, Rahm has not done well in the majors finishing well outside the top 10 in the four appearances in 2017. His biggest liability has been his erratic behavior on the course. John McEnroe could get away with it while winning grand slams, but golf is not the same as tennis. Even a small distraction could get one off course and turn a good round into a poor round. 

Dark Horses

Patrick Cantlay
Best result: T47 (2012)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: B-
Putting: B
Outlook: The former top amateur golfer made his Masters debut in 2012, winning low amateur over Hideki Matsuyama. Cantlay is the type of player who should have a good career at the Masters. He is sneakingly long and does a lot of things solidly. To perform well at the Augusta National, one needs to do well on the Par 5s. The Long Beach native currently ranks 6th on tour in Par 5 scoring, ahead of Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm.

Adam Scott
Best result: Win (2013)
Driving: A-
Iron/Short Game: B+
Putting: C
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. Still, his game is tailor-made for the Augusta National. If he could just have an average putting week, he would be a strong contender for the title. 

🏌Key Stats

Par 5 Scoring
Dustin Johnson
Bryson DeChambeau
Sergio Garcia
Alex Noren
Justin Thomas

Driving Distance
Tony Finau
Bubba Watson
Rory McIlroy
Gary Woodland
Jason Day

SG Putting
Jason Day
Phil Mickelson
Tyrrell Hatton
Branden Grace
Brian Harman

🏆Picks
Top 25: Hideki Matsuyama
Top 10: Justin Rose
Top 5: Jordan Spieth
Winner (computer): Dustin Johnson

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