Eighty-nine men will tee-off Thursday with a chance to win the 2016 Masters, but most of the field will be out of the chase for the coveted green jacket once the weekend begins. Only a small portion of the participants have a realistic chance to win the most prestigious PGA event of the year.
Jordan Spieth is defending his title, looking to become the first back-to-back Masters champion since Tiger Woods did it in 2001 and 2002. Aside from Woods, only Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo have won at Augusta in consecutive years, but Spieth is no stranger to making Masters history, shooting a record-tying 18-under par last year.
Spieth hasn’t been at the top of his game of late, falling to No.2 in the world rankings with just one top-10 finish in his last six tournaments. But the 22-year-old has a knack for shining on the biggest stage. After winning the first two major tournaments of 2015, he tied for fourth place at St. Andrews and finished in second place at the PGA Championship.
Jason Day is the favorite, and rightfully so. Surpassing Spieth as the world’s top-ranked player, he has won two straight tournaments. Day edged out Spieth to win the 2015 PGA Championship, but he’s never won the Masters, tying for second in 2011 and finishing in third place in 2013.
Having won the tournament multiple times, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson are top choices to claim another green jacket in 2016. Watson won the championship in 2012 and 2014, and he’s currently ranked fourth in the world. Mickelson was the Masters champion in 2004, 2006 and 2010, and he’s had two top-three finishes since then, tying for second-place a year ago.
Ranking in the top five, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler are also among the favorites. No.7 Adam Scott won the tournament in 2013, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win a second green jacket.
No.8 Dustin Johnson has been given some of the best odds at this year’s Masters, but he might not be a smart pick to win at Augusta since he’s made a habit of coming up short in the major tournaments. At the 2015 U.S. Open, Johnson missed two putts on the final hole, missing a chance to win the tournament or force an 18-hole playoff. Leading the 2015 British Open after two days, Johnson ended the tournament tied for 49th place.
Louis Oosthuizen ranks just outside of the top 10, but only a few golfers in the tournament have a better chance at taking home the green jacket on Sunday. Oosthuizen reached the final of the WGC–Dell Match Play Championship at the end of March, and he had two second-place finishes in major tournaments last year. He’s proven he can win big tournaments, doing so at The Open Championship in 2010, and coming in second at Augusta in 2012.
The most unlikely Masters winner in the last decade might have been Charl Schwartzel, who did so in 2011. It was the first and only major championship of his career, and he finished 2010 ranked 37th overall. Schwartzel hasn’t finished better than seventh in a major tournament since.
Each of the last six Masters winners are currently ranked in the top 20. Since Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997, only Schwartzel and Mike Weir (2003) have won the year’s first major championship having never won a major tournament before or ending the previous year ranked outside of the top 20.
Masters 2016 Prediction: Jordan Spieth