Staff predictions: The Masters
Golfweek has six reporters on the scene this week inside the gates of Augusta National. Here are their predictions:
Winner: Padraig Harrington. OK, everybody is bracing for the Tiger-Phil Show, but the new Augusta is anything but predictable. That said, we'll go with the man whose run for three straight majors has been greatly unnoticed. Amazing what hard work can do for a man. What size jacket, Paddy?
Sleeper: Zach Johnson. Great putters tend to do well at The National, and he knows what it takes to win there.
Winner: Paul Casey. Very solid ballstriker, has the draw to tame Augusta National's right-to-left monster holes, extremely confident after kicking down the door at Houston, tough enough to stare down Tiger Woods.
Sleeper: Jeev Mikha Singh ... Stubborn, pugnacious, unafraid to win a big one, he may be the best Singh in the world.
Winner: Tiger Woods. Sometimes you look at the climb and figure why climb out there? It makes no sense. There's no reason to do so. He's gone three years without slipping into a green jacket, which is his longest dry spell at his tournament. Coming off a stirring rally at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods virtually dares you not to pick him. No way I'm going to accept that challenge. It's the conservative route for me.
Sleeper: Zach Johnson. He'd be hard-pressed to match the par-5 wizardry of that magical 2007 season (11-under despite never reaching one in two), but it wouldn't be a shock to see him leap into contention because of the way he putts and handles the wedges. With a win and two other top 15 finishes, he's certainly been in good form most of the year and there's got to be a great comfort level at Augusta National.
Winner: Padraig Harrington. To be honest, the only way I wouldn’t have picked Paddy this week is if he weren’t playing. For several reasons both scientific and unscientific, I picked Harrington to win both the British Open and PGA Championship last year. If I didn’t give myself a shot at the Golfweek Fantasy Slam, what type of fantasy golfer would I be? (I also like the fact he’s gotten better each of the last three weeks. Really can’t forget about those last two major final rounds, either.)
Sleeper: Andres Romero. I’m sure Zach Johnson will be a popular pick here. I also like Oliver Wilson, but have to go with someone who’s played Augusta National before. Romero’s played OK this year, but has good memories from his T-8 at last year’s Masters.
Winner: Geoff Ogilvy. Has played better than anybody else the past four months. And he has the game for Augusta, for he has mastery over the three clubs that matter most–driver, wedge, putter. And besides, it's about time an Australian wins. He narrowly beats Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Sleeper: Zach Johnson. When you win the Masters two years ago and have played well in the last six months, you don't sound like a sleeper. But he's out of the top 50 in Golfweek/Sagarins. So are Adam Scott and Vijay Singh. Johnson just seems to be playing better at the moment.
Winner: Geoff Ogilvy. Big hitter, accurate long game, and his real genius is his short game. Two wins already in '09, and set to become the first Australian to slip into the Green Jacket on Sunday.
Sleeper: K.J. Choi. If it's not the first winner from Oz then it will be the first Masters champ born in Asia. Choi has the steady, fairways and greens game that's won the last two Masters. He's knocked on the door at a few majors now, Augusta in '04 and the British Open in '08. Time for the 39-year-old South Korean to catch up with his country women, who have dominated the LPGA.