Staff picks: The Masters

Retief Goosen is the popular pick this week among Golfweek staffers.

Retief Goosen is the popular pick this week among Golfweek staffers.

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JEFF RUDE

Podcast episode

PGA Tour

Babineau: Woods will be in the mix Sunday

Jeff Babineau reacts to Tiger Woods’ Monday press conference at the Masters and says he expects Woods to be in the mix on Sunday.

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  • Winner: Retief Goosen. The two-time U.S. Open champion meets the two most important criteria: Playing well and has done well at the site. Looking at his form currently and at Augusta National, he makes sense. Has four top 3s in the Masters and six top-10 finishes in 2010.
  • Sleeper: Fred Couples. He’s 50 and hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2003. But he’s loaded with confidence after going 2-1-1-1 on the Champions Tour, and he’s driving and putting about as well as he ever has. Plus, he loves Augusta and knows how to play there, winning in 1992 and coming close two other times.

• • •

JEFF BABINEAU

  • Winner: Padraig Harrington. Here’s why: Because Phil isn’t quite in form, Augusta National has had Ernie’s number since 2004 and the golf gods simply won’t allow Tiger all the way back to victory circle in his first start back. So who from the pack will rise? Harrington’s game is leaps ahead of where it was this time last year, and besides, do you think an Irishman would look good in green come Sunday?
  • Sleeper: Matt Kuchar. He has a dozen top-20 finishes since the FedEx Cup playoffs began last fall, and showed he is in form on a tough course with a tie for eighth in Houston. With his Georgia Tech connection, and having played Augusta National in his amateur days, the Masters remains a very special tournament for him. He putts well. Keep an eye on him.

• • •

The Masters

Site: Augusta, Ga.

Courses: Augusta National Golf Club (7,435 yards, par 72)

Purse: TBA ($7.5 million in 2009).

Winner’s share: TBA ($1.35 million in 2009)

JIM McCABE

  • Winner: Retief Goosen. Could be playing the steadiest golf of his career, with four finishes inside the top 5 already this season. Amid a sea of madness, why not the calmest of them all?
  • Sleeper: Camilo Villegas. Last year, Argentina; this year, Colombia. The South Americans have arrived.

• • •

JAMES ACHENBACH

  • Winner: Retief Goosen. If Goosen makes putts, he contends. The South African is a wonderful iron player.
  • Sleeper: Matt Kuchar. Forget “fairways and greens” for the 2010 Masters – it’s “irons and putts” that will win this year.

• • •

DAN MIROCHA

  • Winner: Anthony Kim. Forget about the history that goes with winning the week before the Masters. And forget about Big Easy, Goose, Tiger, Freddie . . . all the fashionable picks. Don’t overlook AK. He thrives on the big stage and can go low at Augusta. Remember that 11-birdie, second-round 65 last year? I see Kim lighting it up again this year.
  • Sleeper: Lee Westwood. Gritty guy who seems to lurk around the lead in more and more majors.

• • •

photo

Padraig Harrington speaks the media during his Tuesday press conference at the Masters.

SEAN MARTIN

  • Winner: Padraig Harrington. Maybe not the first guy who comes to mind, but he finished in the top 10 at Doral and Innisbrook. He’s got a solid Masters record, with three top-10 finishes, including 2007 and ’08.
  • Sleeper: Ryan Moore. He’s playing for the first time since turning pro. Happy to be back after having to WD from the ’06 Masters because of that broken bone in his hand that hampered much of his pro career. Moore tied for 13th in ’05 to earn low-amateur honors and tied for 35th two years earlier.

• • •

Field according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index:

  • 1. Tiger Woods
  • 2. Jim Furyk
  • 3. Steve Stricker
  • 4. Phil Mickelson
  • 5. Camilo Villegas
  • 6. Lee Westwood
  • 7. Retief Goosen
  • 8. Paul Casey
  • 9. Rory McIlroy
  • 10. Ernie Els
  • 11. Soren Hansen
  • 12. Zach Johnson
  • 13. Kenny Perry
  • 14. Hunter Mahan
  • 15. Ian Poulter
  • 16. Tim Clark
  • 17. Sergio Garcia
  • 18. Luke Donald
  • 19. Charl Schwartzel
  • 20. Martin Kaymer
  • 21. Francesco Molinari
  • 22. Anthony Kim
  • 23. Thongchai Jaidee
  • 24. Ben Crane
  • 25. Mike Weir
  • 28. Y.E. Yang
  • 29. Dustin Johnson
  • 30. Geoff Ogilvy
  • 31. Vijay Singh
  • 32. Robert Allenby
  • 33. Nick Watney
  • 34. Matt Kuchar
  • 35. Edoardo Molinari
  • 36. Ross Fisher
  • 37. Kevin Na
  • 39. Sean O'Hair
  • 40. David Toms
  • 41. Padraig Harrington
  • 42. Scott Verplank
  • 44. Justin Leonard
  • 45. Miguel Angel Jimenez
  • 46. Steve Marino
  • 48. Lucas Glover
  • 49. Soren Kjeldsen
  • 50. Henrik Stenson
  • 51. Graeme McDowell
  • 52. John Senden
  • 53. Ben Curtis
  • 54. Fred Couples
  • 55. Jerry Kelly
  • 56. Stewart Cink
  • 57. Oliver Wilson
  • 59. Brian Gay
  • 60. Jason Dufner
  • 62. Angel Cabrera
  • 65. Simon Dyson
  • 68. K.J. Choi
  • 73. Chris Wood
  • 76. Chad Campbell
  • 88. Marc Leishman
  • 89. Shingo Katayama
  • 90. Alvaro Quiros
  • 91. Ryan Moore
  • 101. Ryo Ishikawa
  • 103. Louis Oosthuizen
  • 104. Adam Scott
  • 115. John Rollins
  • 119. Bill Haas
  • 127. Yuta Ikeda
  • 129. Anders Hansen
  • 135. Nathan Green
  • 146. Robert Karlsson
  • 155. Ricky Barnes
  • 157. Heath Slocum
  • 167. Rory Sabbatini
  • 193. John Merrick
  • 222. Sandy Lyle
  • 281. Steve Flesch
  • 304. Ryan Palmer
  • 325. Trevor Immelman
  • 378. Todd Hamilton
  • 501. David Duval
  • 712. Nathan Smith
  • 941. Michael Campbell
  • N/R. Ben Crenshaw
  • N/R. Ben Martin
  • N/R. Bernhard Langer
  • N/R. Brad Benjamin
  • N/R. Byeong-Hun An
  • N/R. Chang-won Han
  • N/R. Craig Stadler
  • N/R. Ian Woosnam
  • N/R. Larry Mize
  • N/R. Mark O'Meara
  • N/R. Matteo Manassero
  • N/R. Raymond Floyd
  • N/R. Tom Watson

Who are the top players missing at Augusta? Stephen Ames (26), Tom Lehman (27), Michael Sim (38), Kevin Sutherland (43) and Justion Rose (47).

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