Masters 2013: Tiger, Bradley lead staff predictions

Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley register as favorites at the 2013 Masters.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The buzz around Augusta National can be felt around the golf world.

Can Tiger Woods win a Green Jacket for the first time since 2005? Has Rory McIlroy rounded into form just in time? Can Bubba Watson repeat his incredible performance of a year ago? How will 14-year-old Tianlang Guan play at the ultra-long track?

Our staff of experts will be on the grounds to bring you complete coverage of the 77th Masters, and have plenty of opinions to go around when it comes to who will win the tournament.

We'll all pick a favorite, an underdog (outside the top 30 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings) and the low amateur.

Our predictions:

• • •

Jeff Babineau, Golfweek Editor

FAVORITE

Keegan Bradley: I realize Tiger Woods is the no-brainer here, and I believe Woods will be in the thick of things on the back nine Sunday. As well as he's putting, though, I'm not convinced he's leaving Augusta with another Green Jacket. Why do I like Bradley? He's long, he makes birdies, he's gritty, he wants to step up to the next level, and he has a good Augusta tutor in three-time champion Phil Mickelson.

UNDERDOG

Henrik Stenson: Since an opening 73 at Honda, he has seven sub-70 rounds and is peaking at just the right time. When he is on, his game is world-class, and he's finding his way back.

AMATEUR

Michael Weaver: Has enough length to handle Augusta, and got a small taste of the big stage at the U.S. Amateur.

• • •

Jim McCabe, Golfweek Senior Writer

FAVORITE

Phil Mickelson: Right, Tiger Woods is the overwhelming favorite. Check, Tiger Woods is playing brilliant golf. But in the last seven Masters, the score is 3-0 in favor of the lefthander when it comes to Green Jackets.

UNDERDOG

Keegan Bradley: Hits it high, hits it long, and has been playing beautifully all season. Qualifies as “wild card” because he’s ranked outside the top 30 in the Golfweek/Sagarin list, but he's a leading contender, folks.

AMATEUR

Alan Dunbar: Who would have thought the unheralded British Amateur champ would provide the biggest excitement for the folks in Northern Ireland?

• • •

Jeff Rude, Golfweek Senior Writer

FAVORITE

Tiger Woods: He's in form and more equipped than he has been at Augusta since 2005, the last year he won. How do you not pick him?

UNDERDOG

Keegan Bradley: Four top-10s in a row. Great form. Has length and putting stroke to win there. Plus has been tutored there by Phil Mickelson.

AMATEUR

Michael Weaver. The U.S. Amateur runner-up has a long, high-ball game that works at Augusta. Plus, how do you not go with a guy who turns 22 on Masters Friday?

• • •

Sean Martin, Managing Editor, Golfweek.com

FAVORITE

Lee Westwood: The easy answer is Tiger Woods. I'm going outside the box. Westwood has to win one of these eventually, right? He was third last year, 11th in 2011 and runner-up in 2010. He's coming off a 10th-place finish at the Shell Houston Open.

UNDERDOG

Bill Haas: Masters record is mediocre - he's made the cut in all three appearances, finishing 26th, 42nd and 37th – but he's in good form. He has five top-10s in nine starts this year, including in his past two starts.

AMATEUR

Michael Weaver: He's No. 21 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and has three top-4 finishes in his past five college events, and an 11th-place finish in his last start, the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, one of the toughest events of the college season.

• • •

Beth Ann Baldry, Golfweek Senior Writer

FAVORITE

Brandt Snedeker: Winner of this year's AT&T, it's time to see some happy tears from Sneds at Augusta. He finished third here way back in 2008. Also had runner-up showings at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open and the Waste Management Phoenix Open, shooting 24 under at the latter. The Vandy grad surely learned a thing or two from leading last year's British Open after two rounds.

UNDERDOG

Graeme McDowell: Finished T-12 or better in every major last year, including at T-2 at the U.S. Open. His T-12 at Augusta last year was his best showing at the Masters. Has three top 10s so far this season. The stylish Northern Irishman could surely use more green.

AMATEUR

Michael Weaver: Cal junior earned his way into the Masters via a runner-up finish at the U.S. Amateur, which he lost in a heartbreaker on the 37th hole. One of top-ranked Cal's stronger's players, the Golden Bears have won eight tournaments this season. Weaver should be coming in with good vibes.

• • •

James Achenbach, Golfweek Equipment Editor

FAVORITE

Nicolas Colsaerts: I like him because he is long. If he putts, he stays near the lead.

UNDERDOG

Henrik Stenson: He is playing much better, his confidence is way up. This is not a tournament for self-doubters. I like him to win.

AMATEUR

None: All miss the cut; somewhere Bobby Jones sheds a tear.

• • •

Alistair Tait, Golfweek Senior Writer (Europe)

FAVORITE

Tiger Woods: It's hard to see past the World No. 1 given the season he's having. He seems to have his mojo back. However, this is a big tournament for him. Win this and he can look again towards bettering Jack's record of 18 majors. Only question is: Will that pressure take its toll?

UNDERDOG

Keegan Bradley: He's in good form heading to Augusta, with five top 10 finishes. He has the length to tame the par-5s. What's he's missing is experience. He's only played once at Augusta, finishing T27 last year. However, he has the game to win this year's green jacket.

AMATEUR

Nathan Smith: It's his fourth Masters, having missed the cut in 2004. He's the only amateur in the field with experience and that should give him an edge against the rest.

• • •

Adam Schupak, Golfweek Senior Writer

FAVORITE

Justin Rose: I’m impressed with his recent form. His ball striking is second to none, and his putting is vastly improved. He has raised his game another level. Rose has enough experience both at Augusta and battling on the back nine Sunday in big spots to produce when it matters most. I like his chances.

UNDERDOG

Keegan Bradley: What’s the only major never to be won with an anchored putter? Yes, the Masters (Angel Cabrera, another good sleeper pick by the way, used a belly-length putter but didn’t anchor). The way Keegan Bradley has played the last month, he could spoil this trivia question. He has the length, the touch, and the desire to wear a Green Jacket on Sunday.

AMATEUR

None: I hate to burst their bubble, but I predict none of the amateurs make it to the weekend.

• • •

Lance Ringler, Golfweek writer

FAVORITE

Tiger Woods: Why would you not take Tiger this week?

UNDERDOG

K.J. Choi: Finished T-6 at Valero Texas Open and often plays well at Augusta. Has made seven of 10 cuts and placed in the top eight twice in his last three starts at the Masters.

AMATEUR

T.J. Vogel: The senior at the University of Florida and reigning U.S. Amateur Public Links champion is maybe the most talented amateur playing this week. Vogel has been on all-conference first team performer in the two best conferences in college golf -- Pac-12 (played two years at USC) and SEC.

• • •

Alex Miceli, Golfweek Senior Writer

FAVORITE

Phil Mickelson: The left-hander has won three Green Jackets, the last coming in 2010. Every year, Mickelson is conceivably in the hunt; why not this year?

UNDERDOG

Angel Cabrera: Winner in 2009, the Argentinian has worked hard this year on his game with his sights on Augusta. His two major wins have come out of nowhere, which is where his third could come from as well.

AMATEUR

Nathan Smith: He has been here more than most of the professionals. Knowledge is key around Augusta National.

• • •

Nick Masuda, Director, Digital Content/Innovation, Golfweek.com

FAVORITE

Tiger Woods: The winless streak ends. His short irons have been so good as of late, and his putter is doing its job. Tiger will look like Christmas come Sunday evening.

UNDERDOG

Padraig Harrington: Coming off a solid finish at Texas Open – and the guy shows up at Augusta National.

AMATEUR

Michael Weaver: U.S. Amateur runner-up and he had to have learned from that. Not to mention that he plays on the top team in college golf and knows what it takes to stay focused.

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