Who wins the 2020 Masters? Who is the best bet? Who has the best Augusta form? Before striking your bets let Matt Cooper guide you through the leading players chasing Green Jacket glory...
"Since lockdown ended Rory has gone 12 starts without a top five finish and appears lost without the crowds."
Bryson DeChambeau (USA)
World No. 6 | Masters record (most recent result on the right): 21-38-29
When Ian Woosnam won the Masters there was panic in the wardrobe department as they sought to find a Green Jacket that would fit him and if beefcake DeChambeau wins on Sunday it might be a case of deja vu. He's not only transformed his game, but proved it can withstand major pressure with his U.S. Open win. Can he now dismantle the Augusta challenge and just how many greens will he take aim at from the tee? It's a fascinating prospect and the defibrillators are on stand-by in the clubhouse. He has work to do, however, because he's bettered par just three times in 12 laps of the course.
Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
World No. 5 | Masters record: 20-MC-15-40-25-8-4-10-7-5-21
Like so many greats whose quest for a first Masters win was long, McIlroy aches to replace an ever-growing weight on his shoulders with a Green Jacket. Is he destined to join eventually-satisfied Phil Mickelson or remain forever-thwarted like Ernie Els? Memories linger of letting a significant Sunday lead slip in 2011 and of applying no pressure when in the final group in 2018. His Stoic approach (he quite literally turned to the Ancient Greek philosophy) allowed him to match quality with quantity through 2019 and early 2020, but since lockdown ended he's gone 12 starts without a top five finish and appears lost without the crowds.
Jon Rahm (Spain)
World No. 2 | Masters record: 27-4-9
The Spaniard's first three visits to Augusta were impressive enough, but closer investigation reveals an intriguing split in his scores. During his first five circuits there he failed to break 70 once, four times signed for an over-par total, and had an average of 73.20. Since then? Seven laps, all of them under-par, five of them sub-70, all at an average of 68.57. If he maintains that form he can contend, especially if fuelled by memories of winning this year's Memorial on super-fast greens at Muirfield Village or his sensationally skilful and dramatic play-off defeat of Dustin Johnson in the BMW Championship.
Dustin Johnson (USA)
World No. 1 | Masters record: 30-38-38-13-MC-6-4-10-2
The world's top-ranked player struggled during his early visits to Augusta and even his T13th in 2013 came in spite of a 76 and a 74. Since 2015, however, he's clocked four top tens and might have made it five had he not taken a prat-fall down the stairs ahead of the 2017 event, a bizarre incident which forced him to withdraw injured. A brilliant 11-stroke win in The Northern Trust and victory in the FedExCup PlayOffs were the highlights of his summer before Covid halted him in his tracks. His return to action in last week's Houston Open reaped an impressive and fast-finishing tied second.
Justin Thomas (USA)
World No. 3 | Masters record: 39-22-17-12
There's no doubt that the Kentucky man's results at the Masters are trending in the right direction, but it's equally apparent that he needs to deal with his first tee nerves there. Four times he's teed it up on Thursday and he's yet to sign for anything better than a 73. There's also a big split in his Augusta stats: he's always ranked top 11 for Greens in Regulation, but never top 40 for Putts per Round. They're obviously entangled numbers, but it's a flat-stick worry. A two-time winner in 2020, his form's not in question - he just needs a solid start to give himself a chance.
Xander Schauffele (USA)
World No. 8 | Masters record: 50-2
After a rough championship debut, the 27-year-old came good in 2019, leading the Putting Averages and carding an impressive 73-65-70-68 to tie second, one blow behind Tiger Woods. He thrives in elite competition (owning victories in the Tour Championship, Tournament of Champions and WGC HSBC Champions) and has landed nine top 20s in just 13 major championship starts, half a dozen of them in the top six. A top-three finisher eight times since his last win in the first week of 2019, he was, on the other hand, only foiled by the quirky scoring system when low-scorer in the Tour Championship at East Lake.
Brooks Koepka (USA)
World No. 12 | Masters record: 33-21-11-2
There's no doubting his record in the majors (he's won four of the last eleven he's played) and his performances at Augusta National are also heading in the right direction with his tied second in 2019 fuelled by a Thursday 66 that was a vast improvement on previous round one efforts (74-73-74) that had always tucked him in behind the eight-ball. The queries surround his fitness and form. He contended at the WGC St Jude Invitational and the PGA Championship, but a Sunday 74 at the latter dropped him to T29th and he didn't really recover until a pair of weekend 65s landed tied fifth last week in Houston.
Tiger Woods (USA)
World No. 33 | Masters record: MC-1-8-18-5-1-1-15-22-1-3-2-2-6-4-4-40-4-17-32-1
The good news is that he's not only the defending champion, he's also a five-time course winner. The bad news is that three weeks ago he finished 72nd in a field of 77 at Sherwood CC, another track he's won five times on. Moreover, since a top ten at Torrey Pines in January, he has a best finish of just T37th in the PGA Championship and the only time he didn't lose strokes to the field on the greens was when missing the cut at the U.S. Open. It would be a surprise if he went sub-70 for only the second time in his 22nd first round at Augusta on Thursday.
Collin Morikawa (USA)
World No. 4 | Masters record: Debut
Debutants don't win the Masters, right? Well, not normally, but this is not, of course, a normal year and Morikawa was honest enough to review his victory in August's PGA Championship with the thought that the lack of crowds helped his inexperienced tilt at the title so it could alter his Augusta initiation. It might be a concern, however, that while he won at Muirfield Village with the greens at about 11 on the stimpmeter, a week later he registered the worst Strokes Gained numbers of his career when they were ramped-up to an Augusta National-like 14.
Patrick Reed (USA)
World No. 11 | Masters record: MC-22-49-MC-1-36
Conventional wisdom often argues that prior to winning the Masters a player will drop a big hint by showing form at Augusta National. Not in Reed's case. In fact, rather amazingly, he'd broken par just twice in 12 rounds ahead of doing so four times to land a green jacket in 2018. He also failed to break par twice in his defence in 2019, which only adds to the mystery. He's finished T13th or better in his last three majors and contended in each of his last three starts, albeit landing just the one top ten when third at Wentworth.
Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
World No. 18 | Masters record: 27-54-MC-5-7-11-19-32
It might be a brave man who expects early fireworks from Matsuyama because he's yet to break 70 in 16 pre-weekend laps of Augusta National. The better news is that he's managed it three times in the last five Sundays. Form-wise, he had tallied ten top 30 finishes, but with just the one top 15, in 12 starts ahead of the Houston Open. But he finished there like an express train for tied second and ranked tenth for Strokes Gained putting, his first top 20 ranking in 2020 (when he's most often languished outside the top 50).
Webb Simpson (USA)
World No. 7 | Masters record: 44-MC-MC-28-29-MC-20-5
Heading into last year's championship the 35-year-old had an uninspiring record in the Masters, with a best of T20th in 2018 that was, in itself, a little reliant on a final round 67. When he headed into the weekend T29th that flat history seemed set to repeat before he carded 64-70 to grab tied fifth. Has he turned a corner or do those two good scores flattered him? He's been exceptional in 2020 with 11 top 20s in 15 starts. The wary might care to note that his best four finishes, including two wins, came on his favoured Bermuda grass greens.
Patrick Cantlay (USA)
World No. 10 | Masters record: 47-MC-9
The 28-year-old made the weekend on the number as an amateur, had an early exit on his professional debut, and then squeezed into the final two rounds by just a couple of blows last year. Thereafter, however, he completely turned it around, carding 64-68 to race into the top ten and briefly led midway through the back nine on Sunday. He's ranked top five for both traditional putting stats when he's made the cut and has to take confidence from successfully hunting down Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm with a Sunday 65 in the Zozo Championship in his last start three weeks ago.
Matthew Wolff (USA)
World No. 14 | Masters record: Debut
The 21-year-old Californian is making his first appearance in the tournament this week so we have little to go on, but we can assume that he won't be fazed by the experience if his dazzling introduction to the other two American major championships are anything to go by. He thrashed a final round 65 to grab a share of fourth in August's PGA Championship and then took a two-shot lead into the final day of the U.S. Open in September. The pressure told, but it was further proof that there is far more to his game than a quirky swing.
Tommy Fleetwood (England)
World No. 16 | Masters record: MC-17-36
Prior to 2017 the Englishman was finding major championship golf a struggle with five missed cuts in six starts. But he was fourth in that year's U.S. Open, second 12 months later, and second again in last year's Open. If that hints at a top-level breakthrough soon, his Masters record suggests it might not come at Augusta where a third round 66 in 2018, which vaulted him into a tie for sixth, is the only time he's ended a round in the top 15. Traditional stats have obvious limitations, but it's still a concern that in his ten laps he's averaged 31.20 swings of the putter.
Tyrrell Hatton (England)
World No. 9 | Masters record: MC-44-56
On the bright side, the Englishman's confidence has surely never have been higher. A year ago this week he landed the Turkish Airlines Open, shortly afterwards he had surgery, the rehab went well, he won for the first time on the PGA Tour in March and added the BMW PGA Championship this autumn. He's flying. The dark side is his previous experience at Augusta: ten rounds, eight of them over-par, five of them at least 2-over, a best of 70 and an average of 74.20. He was a fine tied seventh last week in Houston so, at the very least, it seems inconceivable that he won't break that run of so many bad numbers.
Tony Finau (USA)
World No. 17 | Masters record: 10-5
Everyone in golf knows that the amiable Salt Lake City man has struggled to turn consistency into wins (he's still got just the one on the PGA Tour). But in major championships he's relentless, chalking up seven top tens in his last ten starts. Moreover, whilst his experience of Augusta is brief, it's very impressive. He opened his debut with a 68 and closed it with a 65 for tied tenth, and last year a Saturday 64 saw him head into the final day in a tie for second before he finished in a bunch for fifth. Arrives off a run of seven top 15s in his last ten starts.
Bubba Watson (USA)
h4.World No. 44 | Masters record: 20-42-38-1-50-1-38-37-MC-5-12
Bubba at Augusta is reminiscent of the little girl in the nursery rhyme: when he's good, he's very, very good (two wins, one fifth), but when he is bad he is horrid. Okay, horrid might be a touch over-the-top but in seven of his 11 appearances he was never in-contention. His recent form has been excellent, with a third round 65 earning him seventh in the CJ Cup and a second round 63 helping him to fourth at the Zozo Championship. If he breaks par in round one, stay tuned: he's only done that three times and on two of those occasions he won.
Adam Scott (Australia)
World No. 15 | Masters record: 9-23-MC-33-27-27-25-MC-18-2-8-1-14-38-42-9-32-18
He made a slow, and apparently reluctant, return to action post-lockdown and is yet to record a top 20 in five starts. The 40-year-old also tested positive for Covid, re-emerging to post T32nd in last week's Houston Open. He's a vastly experienced performer at Augusta National, however, and, of course, a past winner, becoming the first Aussie to slip his arms inside a Green Jacket. He finished second two years before that triumph and those results remain his only top five finishes, but he was tied for the lead at halfway last year.
Rickie Fowler (USA)
World No. 46 | Masters record: 38-27-38-5-12-MC-11-2-9
Once frequently nominated as the best player not to have won a major, Fowler has been overtaken by younger generations. Can he do a Sergio Garcia or Adam Scott and come good in his 30s? His form suggests not this year. You have to scroll back to January for his last top ten, he missed the cut in the PGA Championship and was T49th at the U.S. Open. The only hope is his recent record at Augusta. He was tied third after 54 holes in both 2017 and 2018, and is a rather dizzy 19-under-par for the weekend rounds the last two years.
Sergio Garcia (Spain)
World No. 40 | Masters record: 38-40-MC-8-28-4-MC-46-MC-MC-38-45-35-12-8-MC-17-34-1-MC-MC
There are few enigmas in golf quite like the 40-year-old Spaniard who's always struggled at Augusta a lot more than he has thrived, who told the Spanish media that he couldn't win on the course, who carded an 81 in 2016, did the same thing in 2018, and yet in-between he contrived to claim his only major championship victory there. Few would have given him much hope of a repeat success after a rash of missed cuts in August and September, but a win in October offers hope. Can he win on these greens putting with his eye closed though?!
Jason Day (Australia)
World No. 41 | Masters record: 2- WD-3-20-28-10-22-20-5
In midsummer the Australian was flying, ticking off four consecutive top seven finishes including the high class Memorial Tournament, WGC St Jude Invitational and PGA Championship. Since then, however, his form has ground to a halt, failing to make the top 50 in five of seven starts and a withdrawal from the CJ Cup only added to the worries for a man forever vulnerable to back problems. He understands the test though, as his three top fives finishes at Augusta prove, and he was tied seventh in last week's Houston Open - a late confidence booster?
Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa)
World No. 19 | Masters record: MC-MC-MC-2-MC-25-19-15-41-12-29
It's been a frustrating few months for the South African at the highest level. He was sixth in the WGC St Jude Invitational, spent much of the week in the top five through the FedExCup PlayOffs without landing a top ten, and was a close third ahead of the U.S. Open final round, then a distant third after it. His play-off defeat at Augusta in 2012 looked like a massive outlier until last year when he got himself into a tie for the halfway lead, but closing 71-76 saw him go backwards and so remain stuck on just the one top ten finish there.
Jordan Spieth (USA)
World No. 80 | Masters record: 2-1-2-11-3-21
The American has played 24 competitive rounds at Augusta and found himself in the top 12 at the end of 19 of them. Even more incredibly, when he tied the 54-hole lead on debut in 2014 it was the first of ten consecutive rounds he ended in the top two. He claimed the Green Jacket in 2015, but failed to defend after enduring a disaster at the 12th hole in the final round, an experience that may have left exceptionally tender scar tissue. He's not made a top ten since June, has failed to make a top five since May 2019 and hasn't tasted victory since the 2017 Open.
Scottie Scheffler (USA)
World No. 30 | Masters record: Debut
The 2019-20 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is making his Masters debut and will feel emboldened by finishing fourth in August's PGA Championship, his first top 20 finish in the majors. He backed that up with the same result two weeks later in The Northern Trust and he was then the second low-scorer in the Tour Championship at East Lake, which may well prompt relish in his return to Georgia. He's clearly a fine golfer, but if winning as a first-timer at Augusta is difficult, claiming a first PGA Tour title at the same time is surely an outrageous prospect.
Paul Casey (England)
World No. 22 | Masters record: 6-MC-10-11-20-MC-38-MC-6-4-6-15-MC
It's been a curious year for Casey who's managed just the one top ten and yet it was very nearly a remarkable bolt from the blue because, at one stage as he carded a superb final round 66 in the PGA Championship, he looked set to win a first major at the age of 43. Alas, Collin Morikawa trumped him. He boasts a solid Augusta record book, with no less than eight top 20 finishes in 13 starts. Five of those were top tens and three of them came in his last five starts.
Justin Rose (England)
World No. 28 | Masters record: 39-22-5-36-20-11-8-25-14-2-10-2-12-MC
His missed cut last year was a first at Augusta in 14 starts, a run that has included two runner-up finishes, the most painful of which was play-off defeat in 2017. He's also known as a fast starter on the course, claiming one solo and two shared first round leads plus another three times he has been top four on Thursday night. His form is more of a concern. He was third in the first post-lockdown start in Texas and second at halfway on his way to tied ninth in the PGA Championship, his only two top tens in 12 starts.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (England)
World No. 20 | Masters record: MC-7-32-38-21
Three rounds of 67 and topping the Greens in Regulation stats in 2016 proves that the Englishman can navigate his way around Augusta, but the flipside is that ten of his 18 circuits have been over-par. In recent weeks he's come close to a good finish without completing the job. First, he squandered a share of the 36-hole lead in the BMW PGA Championship to end the week tied seventh. Then he was tied seventh at halfway in the CJ Cup and in the same spot after 54-holes in the Zozo Championship; on neither occasion did he land a top ten.
Sungjae Im (South Korea)
World No. 25 | Masters record: Debut
The Korean is on an upward curve: Rookie of the Year in 2018-19, a first-time winner in his Sophomore campaign, what can he produce in his third season on the PGA Tour? He remains relatively inexperienced in the major championships, with his T22nd in September's U.S. Open a first top 40 finish in five starts. He famously plays a lot of golf. Not just in the sense that he fills his schedule; he also makes a lot of cuts. But he hasn't made a top ten since the start of August or a top five since pre-lockdown.
Phil Mickelson (USA)
World No. 64 | Masters record: 46-34-7-3-MC-12-6-7-3-3-3-1-10-1-24-5-5-1-27-3-54-MC-2-MC-22-36-18
For so long a nearly-man at the Masters, when he finally claimed a Green Jacket he did so following a head-to-head duel with another man frustrated by that wardrobe quest, Ernie Els. Age threatens his chase for a fourth tournament win, but so does his failure to not only break but equal par on Friday six times in his last seven visits. He's a two-time winner on the Champions Tour in 2020 and was second in the WGC St Jude, but has finished outside the top 40 in his last six starts on the PGA Tour, including last week in Houston.
Brandt Snedeker (USA)
World No. 89 | Masters record: 41-3-MC-15-19-6-37-MC-10-27-MC
Three times the 39-year-old has got himself into contention at Augusta and three times he's failed to seal the deal. He was second after 54 holes in 2008, shared the lead at that stage in 2013, and was just three shots back at halfway in 2016, but every time he struggled with the final round test. In fact, he is yet to break 70 in eight attempts on Sunday. He hadn't made a top ten since January, but burst into form with a first round 65 in Houston last week, good for the early lead before eventually finishing T44th.
Lee Westwood (England)
World No. 47 | Masters record: 24-44-6-MC-44-MC-MC-30-11-43-2-11-3-8-7-46-2-18
A first return to Augusta National in three years for the Englishman and, whilst he had his struggles there in the early part of his career, his last ten starts there have been strong. Seven times in that period he finished the week T11th or better and on another two occasions he was in the top ten earlier in the tournament. Famously, he both continues to seek a first major championship win and his putting remains a flaw. He didn't miss a cut in nine European Tour events post-lockdown, but crashed out of last week's Houston Open early.
Shane Lowry (Rep. Ireland)
World No. 27 | Masters record: MC-MC-39-MC
In theory, it would be easy to consider the 2019 Open champion a tempting fit for Augusta National because he loves playing between trees and he has a short game to die for. His record suggests otherwise, however. He did open his account in 2016 with a 68, to date his only sub-par score on the course, but followed up with rounds of 76-79-75. He threatened to win the BMW PGA Championship last month, but the serenity with which he gained a lead through 62 holes was a huge contrast with the reverse that followed. He also briefly flirted with the lead when T11th last week in Houston.
Danny Willett (England)
World No. 57 | Masters record: 38-1-MC-MC-MC
As course records go, Willett's logbook at Augusta National is quite the curiosity. He's completed 14 rounds there, only once broken 70, and averages 75.00 in his last half dozen circuits. But who cares about the bad stuff because when he was granted the opportunity to win he did so in spectacular style in 2016. His tee shot to (nearly) tap-in range at the 16th, being one of the great responses to hitting top spot on a major championship leaderboard. That said, he hasn't made a top 30 in ten starts and withdrew last week in Houston after a Thursday 77.
Francesco Molinari (Italy)
World No. 85 | Masters record: 30-MC-19-MC-50-33-20-5
The 12th hole at Augusta National has broken many hearts, but has it ever had such a devastating effect on the form-line of one player? In the 20 tournaments prior to the 2019 Masters the Italian had won four times on his own, led Europe to Ryder Cup glory and finished third in the WGC World Match Play. In the tournament itself he was leading as he stood on the tee of that short par-3 on Sunday, but his shot found water, he dropped into a tie for fifth, and he hasn't revisited the top ten in 20 events since.