Masters 2020 Preview
Ah, a Masters in November words I never thought I hear what a lovely sentence to type. Let’s dive on in shall we?
Augusta National Golf Club Par 72 7,475 yards
A Masters in November?
Yes, the Masters is being played in November this year instead of April because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We all will get to see Augusta National beauty during the fall and it will present new challenges and perhaps strategies to the golfers.
It is a shame we will not get to hear the roar of the patrons this year and it will affect some golfers and it will not affect others, but come the back nine on Sunday it will feel a little different without the patrons reacting to Masters moments.
Tiger Woods Defending Champ?
After winning a historic, emotional Masters last year Woods begins his quest for a sixth green jacket this week can he defend and win it this week?
Rory Mcllroy Grand Slam?
Another year another chance for Mcllroy to finally complete the grand slam for majors. Mcllroy has had his chances over the years could this year finally be the year he conquers Augusta National?
The current U.S. Open champion and the talk of golf takes on Augusta National for the first time with his new game can DeChambeau go back to back majors?
Weather and Darkness?
Thursday forecast has not looked good all week and potential delays could cause issues in getting play in before darkness. That is one con with playing the Masters in November is having less daylight and forcing players to go off two tees instead of starting at hole one like always to speed up play before the weekend.
The Back Nine?
They say the Masters truly does not begin until the back nine Sunday and I expect no different this year, get ready to buckle up for a show.
First Time Winner?
Not since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 that no player in their first time in the Masters has won a green jacket. But, there are multiple names who can change that narrative and snap that streak come Sunday.
Sleepers for this week
Course experience will be huge this week and this will be Kuchar’s 14th appearance at the Masters and coming off a T12 finish last year with previous success at the Masters. So, it would not shock me to see Kuchar’s name in the first two pages of the leaderboard come Sunday.
Matsuyama has played better as of late and is still an elite ball-striker, oh and only three players have made more birdies at the Masters the last five years than Matsuyama (79) fire him up this week as one of your main sleepers.
This is Champ’s first Masters’s appearance but being a big hitter with a course potentially playing longer because of the conditions and the Par 5s being gettable favors a player like Champ. so, I can see Champ make some noise this week to play late Sunday and be a factor. Oh, and John Wood the five-year caddie of Matt Kuchar is now on the bag for Champ and Wood has his fair share of Master’s appearance.
We are almost reaching the point where Wolff may be more of a contender than a sleeper with his T4 at the PGA Championship and a solo second at the U.S. Open in his first two major championship starts. But, Augusta National is its own animal but Wolff game can translate success at the Masters. Will it be a top-five finish again probably not since this is his first time walking Augusta National but can he make some noise again as a sleeper this week of course as Wolff to me is a future major champion and this week will help trend in that direction.
The Reigning PGA Tour rookie of the year and a name no one talks about because of the young guns Wolff, Collin Morikawa and Victor Hovland getting all the attention. But, this young gun can drive the ball well and give himself some looks at birdie as he is 10th in strokes gained off the tee last season and played well before testing positive for COVID-19 but having a solid finish this week is definitely in play for Scheffler.
The two time Masters winner should always be a name to watch come Masters week. The last two years have presented a T-5 and T-12 finish and his experience could go a long way to giving himself an advantage over other golfers. Fire up Watson as a deep sleeper this week to try and become a three-time Masters winner.
Oosthuizen if you remember came so close to winning the Masters in 2012 but ended up losing to Bubba Watson in a playoff. But, Oosthuizen has played well in majors to be a factor this week coming off of that solo third at the U.S. Open and has the game to once again light up Augusta National come this weekend.
Golfers I do not like this week
Shocking right for the PGA Championship winner to be on this list? Well, since his win at TPC Harding Park Morikawa has missed the cut in three of his seven starts and really has not been in contention either. It is very hard to come into Augusta National and try and find a spark especially if you lack the experience Morikawa has. I expect Morikawa to contend at many Masters in the future but based on his play recently I do not expect that to come this week.
Fowler’s last top to 10 was 17 events ago and despite having good Master’s success Fowler is in a bad slump and is about to fall outside the top 50 in the world for the first time in more than a decade. Fowler has made a lot of changes to his game in the past year but those changes have yet to yield success and that won’t change come this week.
Despite being a T5 last year Finau simply cannot kick down the door and get that breakout win everyone is expecting. Last year the moment was too big for him and he just came off a battle with COVID-19 which does not give me good optimism about him being in contention this week I would not fade Finau this week.
Missed the cut at the PGA Championship and the US Open and does not have good success at Augusta National either with a MC/T-44/T-56 in three starts. A usual sleeper for me but not this week it would not shock me if he is out of contention come Friday night.
Yeah I know we all expect Spieth to finally get that win again and break out of his slump going back to 2017. Why not do it at the place where he has a win under his belt and a ton of moments. Well, the fact Spieth cannot play clean golf or be in contention is a start. You cannot hit double or worse more than once and expect to win the Masters and that is the story of Spieth’s game since his last win in 2017 the ability to make that big mistake on multiple occasions.
Power Rankings for this week
10: Patrick Reed
The 2018 Masters winner has played well as of late with four straight finishes of T-14 or better and at one point was leading the U.S. Open in round 3 back in September. Reed’s short game and wedges are solid and perfect enough to contend or perhaps even win his second green jacket.
9: Rory Mcllroy
Mcllroy has not played great golf at all since the restart back in June but he still lurks around the first page of the leaderboard usually for the Masters before last year’s struggles. I’m not sure this is the year for Mcllroy to win the Masters but his consistency at Augusta National puts him ninth on the power rankings.
8: John Rahm
Already in the news this week for his fantastic hole in one on 16 Tuesday. Rahm has played well as of late coming into the Masters and does have two top 10s in his last three masters starts. However, as always in taking the next big step in his career in winning a major can Rahm be able to take his medicine and not get frustrated with Augusta National? Rahm is on the verge of a breakthrough you just feel like any major now he can go out and win one.
7: Patrick Cantlay
At one point last year Cantlay had the solo lead on the back nine after an eagle on 15 before losing the Masters with bogeys on 16 and 17 in round 4. Coming off his big win at the Zozo Championship Cantlay has the game and now the experience of tasting a green jacket to be a factor again this year come Sunday afternoon.
6: Dustin Johnson
The FedEx Cup winner was the hottest golfer in the world going into the U.S. Open but recently had a battle with COVID-19 that slowed him down which puts him lower on this list. We all know the story with Johnson when it comes to majors putting and 54 hole leads those two are the reason Johnson only has one major to his name. T-2 last year and four top 10s in his last four Masters. You just have a feeling that once again Johnson will be in contention once again.
5: Tiger Woods
The king of Augusta National do I need to say more? As long as Woods is healthy he will always be a factor at Augusta National no matter what state his game is at. Last year was truly a clinic on how Masters experience can go a long way into winning a green jacket and Woods has a great chance of defending his title this week but that all depends on if his back is good and if his wedge and putter show up like last year if it does watch out. Also, no golfer is hurt by no fans as much as Woods is he is still adjusting to the fact of not having 30,000 fans watching him daily especially after last year’s Masters.
4: Justin Thomas
Thomas has yet to record a top 10 at the Masters but his play at the Zozo Championship was good despite losing to Cantlay. Thomas is a good all-around player with no major weakness to his game will always be a factor if he is clicking on all cylinders but in the first round of Masters, he has played in +8 in combined score. You simply cannot win the Masters putting yourself that far back with these fields nowadays. But, I expect this year’s Masters to be Thomas best finish whether that is a win or not
3: Brooks Koepka
Welcome back Koepka you were missed at the U.S. Open and last week at the Houston Open you looked healthy. We all know if Koepka is healthy he is going to be a factor at majors. Last year his putter failed him on the back nine and ended up finishing T-2 but the matter of fact is Koepka tasted the moment last year of a green jacket and he usually does not mess up twice especially with how he plays in major championships a healthy Koepka equals contention automatically.
2: Bryson DeChambeau
Well, do I need to tell you what DeChambeau is going to do this week regarding strategy? He is going to try and overpower Augusta National. But, I’ll remind you it is all about iron and wedge play at Augusta National. DeChambeau has not played the best in the Masters but he will have wedges into many holes this week and that can be an advantage but if you look at the past it always does not result in green jackets. However, DeChambeau’s new golf game and diet did win a major already so why count him out of winning a Masters he will be a lot of people pick come this week.
1: Xander Schauffele
It is only a matter of time before Schauffele wins a major championship, I mean just look at his track record in major championships in 13 starts Schauffele has five top-five finishes, seven tops and nine top 25s and look at his recent play at the FedEx Cup playoffs that is all you need to know why Schauffele could win the Masters this week. Want more information though? last year Schauffele made a back-nine charge and held the lead going into 15 a hole that has always played a part in determining a champion. He fell short but in failure, Schauffele got the Master’s experience needed to put it all together this year. One note I will add Schauffele is -11 in his career at the Masters on the front nine and +7 on the back nine. Clearly, Schauffele will have to improve on the back nine scoring to win a Masters but it is all coming together for Schauffele
Winner: Xander Schauffele
See above for reason ^
I’m going to go with -15 this year last year, the winning score was -13 but I can see a lot of birdies happening a lot more this year. Oh and I’ll add one more thing if you want to win the Masters you better bring your approach play the last five Masters winner were top 3 in strokes gained approach.