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Who will win the Masters?

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Rob Hodgetts | 20:44 UK time, Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It's crunch time at Augusta and the moment we ask the top pundits to nail their colours to the Masters mast.

After all the talking, cogitating and waxing lyrical, what we want to know is, who is actually going to win the thing?

Statistics will give you a rough guide, though 67% of those are made up. Going with a hunch is another tried and tested method.

So how do you pick a winner? Well, you can start by reading the views of some of the game's top writers and broadcasters.

Ken Brown, BBC golf commentator
Winner: Paul Casey. There's a lot of choice for potential winners this year. If Casey is fit - he had shoulder problems last week - he's got the game for Augusta. He hits it long, and enjoys the course - he says it's one of his favourites.

Since he came back from his previous rib injury he has played some wonderful, really solid golf and got to the final of the World Match Play. If he gets hot he's not frightened to go for it, so he could come good this week.

Big week: Ian Poulter. You've got to think if he can keep on the right level, not get too excited, or too ahead of himself he must be coming in with an amazing amount of confidence.

He's gradually improved over the last three of four seasons. He's been a runner-up in the Open and enjoys Augusta - he's been a few times now and played some good, steady golf. He is a fantastic putter - right at this point in time, if he's not the best, he's one of the best putters in the world.

So if he has a hot week on the greens and doesn't get too excited I'd have to say he has got something of a chance.

hs2_getty595.jpgBBC golf commentator Peter Alliss is tipping Henrik Stenson for victory

Peter Alliss, BBC golf commentator
Winner: Henrik Stenson. There are two people who might do well if things happen for them and they get the breaks and they are Stenson and Robert Karlsson.

I'm taking the Britons out of the equation because you can chase them along too much and build up hopes. But the two Swedes have power and they are winners.

Whether or not they'll be overwhelmed by the occasion, I don't know. But nobody ever mentions them. Stenson's a big winner, he's got a good caddie and has got the power.

Big week: Robert Karlsson. He has won many times in Europe so he's in with a chance. At 66-1 or whatever him and Stenson are, they are worth a fiver each-way.

Damon Hack, Sports Illustrated
Winner: Angel Cabrera. He's the defender, comes in under the radar, he's tremendously long off the tee and he putts fast, large greens great - he won the US Open at Oakmont in '07 where the greens are similarly fast, undulating and tricky.

He's made of major championship stuff. The guy plays well at big events and he has a great record here at Augusta so I like him to win again.

Big week: Jim Furyk. He's not the longest off the tee but this course has become more US Open-like in the last 10 years or so. He's won already this year, hits a lot of fairways and greens, knows the course very well and his caddie, Mike "Fluff" Cowan was on the bag when Tiger won by 12 in 1997. I think he will finish top five.

John Hopkins, The Times
Winner: Lee Westwood. A brilliant, brilliant driver, solid iron player, good putter at his best and much improved short-game player but most of all quite a redoubtable competitor now. He's been here 13 times or something now. Eleven years ago he held the lead on the 10th tee on the last day so he knows what's going on.

Big week: Steve Stricker. Seems to me if you can putt well you can play well here. His record here doesn't suggest that but he's playing better now than ever before. Very nice fellow and a very good golfer. He's had several ages of his career, but is now the highest he's ever been in the rankings (2nd) and is in the form of his life.

Tim Rosaforte, Golf World
Winner: Padraig Harrington. He's not afraid of majors. It's going to be a hard, fast golf course this week, there's going to be a lot of chipping and getting it up and down.

Irrespective of those two wedges he hit in the water last year and made eight on, he still has one of the best short games in the world, especially in these conditions. It's just a feeling I've got.

Big week: Dustin Johnson. Big-hitting kid from Carolina. Won earlier this year. Playing with Alvaro Quiros - if they don't get caught up in a long-driving contest - which they will - I think he'll do great.

Iain Carter, BBC 5 live
Winner: Ernie Els. He's obviously in fantastic form, he's rediscovered his winning touch and has always had a Masters in him. It took brilliance from Phil Mickelson to beat him in 2004, and at the age of 40 he's proved he can still win and is the form man coming in.

Big week: Fred Couples. He's the course specialist. Augusta seems to bring the best out of him. The fact he's won three times on the Champions Tour and had a runner-up spot shows that he's driving well and putting well and they are the most important commodities around Augusta.

Mark Reason, Daily Telegraph
Winner: Retief Goosen. He's got a very good chance as long as his back is OK. He's starting to play well, and he's done well around here. And he'll thoroughly enjoy dissing Tiger.

Big Week: Fred Couples. Tipped by many, including Phil Mickelson. He was at 95-1 until recently. He knows how to play around here, his back should be all right in this sunshine and he looked fantastic when he was playing with Tiger the other day.

Wayne Grady, BBC golf commentator
Winner: Steve Stricker. To me he's the guy to beat. He's already won this year, he's had good preparation and he's the world number two. I'd love to see a British guy win and I'd obviously love to see an Australian, we've never won here and Robert Allenby is our best chance, he's the best ball-striker week-in, week-out but his record here at Augusta is not so good. But Stricker's the man I'd pick.

ph_getty595.jpgSeveral of our pundits think Padraig Harrington will do well

Big week: Ian Poulter. He's playing well, he's cocky enough, he's got that monkey off his back in America by winning the World Match Play, so he's won over here. He's definitely got enough front to do well. And the Italian Matteo Manassero will win the low amateur medal.

Karl McGinty, Irish Independent
Winner: Padraig Harringon. He's most dangerous when his mind is clear and I've rarely heard, seen or understood him to be as mentally uncluttered as he is now. He's going into this championship as strong mentally as I've ever seen him going into a championship and in that form he's dangerous.

Big week: Ernie Els I would expect to do well. Ian Poulter is a good enough putter to prosper out there, to do better perhaps than many others on those greens and that's vital here. Lee Westwood, does he fully believe in his short game yet? He's the only one who will either doubt it or prosper with it. If he does well on or around the greens he could well.

Neil McLeman, Daily Mirror
Winner: Lee Westwood. He's served his time. He's been close a lot and third in the last two majors. He's in good form this year and confident. It's pretty open - the top two [Woods and Mickelson] have got other things on their minds, and he's been closer than the other Britons. Paul Casey arguably has the best game for here and is a good putter but I go with Westwood.

Big week: Ross Fisher. He led here last year , he's long and has a good short game. He's got everything.

Andrew Cotter, BBC 5 live
Winner: Retief Goosen. He was twice a runner-up in 2002 and 2007 and has had five top-six finishes in seven starts on Tour this season. His putting may yet fail him, but a strong contender.

Big week: Lee Westwood. He's playing well (led the field in birdies made in Houston last week) he's in good physical shape and mentally he seems really relaxed but also focused. Not a great record here but his near-things in majors in the last two years stand him in good stead.

Kevin Garside, Daily Telegraph
Winner: Fred Couples. I'll stick my neck out here. I watched him for a few holes with the boy Woods and I was struck by how cleanly he was striking the ball. Many of his contemporaries, not least Phil Mickelson, spoke about how the putter is working like a magic wand again.

He's won around here, knows this place, has experience of it and if his putter is working he's a serious threat. And because I've had a tenner on him .

Big week: Camilo Villegas might have an interesting week here having watched him play a couple of rounds the other day.

Brian Keogh, Irish Sun
Winner: Steve Stricker. He has a very good chance, he's playing really well and had a good finish last year as well. He's due in a major.

Big week: Padraig Harrington. He will go close. He has been knocking on the door here a few times, and he's coming into this with a little bit of form.

He's usually as slow starter but he's started pretty well this season. He seems very comfortable and happy in himself and with all that green dust knocking around the place [from the pine trees] it might be his year.

Peter Dixon, The Times
Big week: Padraig Harrington. He's moving into form nicely but quietly, so in a sense he's coming in under the radar. He fell away a bit last week in Houston but in a sense it's a good thing he didn't win to put too much pressure on himself.

He's had two tops 10s in America this year and he's getting better and better and he's a major champion. He's had problems here before so maybe there are a few skeletons in the cupboard but he's strong enough mentally to get away from those.

Big week: Paul Casey. His confidence is high. He was playing brilliantly before his rib injury and has come back from that and is playing just as well. That's a sign of a player who has really matured and I think Paul is at a stage where he should be looking to challenge at all the big events and I think he could have a big week.

Mark Lamport-Stokes, Reuters
Winner: Ernie Els. He's back to his best and the key is getting his short game back. He's got a new ball which helps around the greens, and his two wins this year have embellished his gung-ho attitude.

Big week: Lee Westwood. If he can get his putter to work. He knows how to handle the pressure of a major coming down the stretch after thirds at the Open at Turnberry and the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008. He just needs to make that final little step.

Oliver Holt, Daily Mirror
Winner: Ernie Els. Even I'm aware that he's in good form and has won twice in a row so he's got to be my tip.

Big week: Rory McIlroy There's a lot of talk about the Englishmen but I feel McIlroy is a big event player. This could be a breakthrough major for him.

Derek Lawrenson, Daily Mail
Winner: Phil Mickelson. I think the real Phil Mickelson will show up this week and he would be my tip.

Big week: Ernie Els. My big hope is the Big Easy shows up, as he has the last couple of weeks in Florida, and he claims the Green Jacket he so richly deserves.

Rob Hodgetts, BBC Sport website
Winner: Retief Goosen. In very solid form on the PGA Tour with four top 10s in six strokeplay events this year. Missed the cut at Augusta last year but has finished in the top three four times. Course form counts for a lot here, and he's proved he can handle fast greens after winning two US Opens. Time for another major title.

Big week: Fred Couples. He's a proven course specialist with 23 consecutive cuts made and Augusta is a track where those with the extra knowledge and experience always seem to do well. Three wins on the Champions Tour this year show he's playing well and his back is holding up.

This is a step up from that but the 1992 champion didn't let me down as an each-way pick when he tied third in 2006 and I reckon he could do the same again. The old timers will be boosted by the feats of Greg Norman and Tom Watson at the last few Opens, and Kenny Perry here last year. And seeing as it's my blog, I'm also going to pick Tiger Woods. The shackles of his secret life are off and he's too good to discount. And I saw him hit a stunning second shot into 13 on Tuesday.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Sergio Garcia can win the tournament...Augusta masters 2010.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm afraid Sergio putts as well as that well known golfer Marty Paul.

    Charl Schwartzel and Martin Kaymer will challenge.

  • Comment number 3.

    Winner Ryo Ishikawa. Super talented and part of the next wave. Big week Rory McIlroy.

  • Comment number 4.

    Any Chance Watson having an 8 footer on the last to win and this time holing it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    One of the following 3 to win - Kim, Villegas, Poulter - each has the game, the confidence and the hunger for this Major - keep an eye on all 3 - I confidently expect one of them to win, and each of them to seriously challenge over the 3 days. Sentimentally I really hope Tiger does real well and if he does win I'll be real happy, but these are the players of now, and the future, so go you young guns.

  • Comment number 6.

    I've just put a couple of quid on each of the following:

    Camilo Villegas
    Ian Poulter
    Dustin Johnson

    The Masters can often throw up an unexpected winner which is why I've picked Johnson. Long hitter who may have no fear and really go for it. Poulter and Villegas are both good solid players and if they can have 3 good days out of 4 they could be in with a shout at the end. Should be an interesting weekend, I just hope the American networks don't spend all their time focusing on Tiger and we actually get to see a few of the other players as well. Yes he's big business but it's not all about him, there are plenty of other players out there as well.

  • Comment number 7.

    Anthony Kim - good form, won recently. Hunter Mahan - T10 last year, already won this year and having one of his best starts to a season. Lucas Glover - don't really know why just something keeps making me come back to him. All will have a big week, I'm sure of that, i reckon one of them could break out and win it but don't know which one.

  • Comment number 8.

    Oliver Holt's showing his true lazy journolistic ways. Just because there has been a bit of hype around Rory Mcilroy he asumes he must be English!

    Have just had a tenner on Paul Casey, but would love any the of the english contingent to win it.......including Rory!

  • Comment number 9.

    I think you will find Oliver Holt odesnt refer to Mcilroy as english. "there is alot of talk about the Englishmen BUT..."

    IMO Kaymer has a great chance this week, so backing him to win, and reckon a different Northern Irishman will outperform Mcilroy, GMac to have a big week.

  • Comment number 10.

    Winner Steve Sticker, Top 5 Stewart Cink, Top 10 Mannesaro.

    That kid is incredible for his age.

  • Comment number 11.

    I've done Villegas each way, very happy with that, he's in great form, will come in under the radar.

  • Comment number 12.

    Strange how none of the pundits have tipped the current world number 1 to win? i think this tournament has his name written all over it!

  • Comment number 13.

    Watch out for Kuchar, about 8th on the USA Ryder Cup Rankings so playing well, around 70/1 so worth an eash way punt

  • Comment number 14.

    Gotta say I agree with heresmewhat,

    seems like all the journalists are afraid to stick their necks on the line and predict Tiger for the win. Personally i think he's going to have a huge week, he looks pumped from what ive seen after the whole fiasco with his private life (which i still maintain was horrendous conduct by the media to get involved and tear apart, but thats not the focus), i honestly hope tiger wins and dominates the competition, but at the same time my patriotic side would love to see a British winner, here's hoping that Casey or Westwood can pull it off, or even Poulter!

  • Comment number 15.

    As ever, plenty of Europeans featured. Hopefully they'll deliver this week.

  • Comment number 16.

    This is a very open Masters with some very good value bets out there...
    My personal choices are:
    Casey 25/1
    Donald 100/1
    Weir 100/1
    Flesch 250/1

    Also the Italian genius Mannesaro to finish highest debutant at 20/1 I thought was very good value. Although there are some high quality players teeing up for the first time e.g Schwartzel and Wood, who I believe are both future major champions in the making but I think Matteo will play without fear and had an invite from the great Tom Watson for a practice round so would have picked up a few tips from a master.
    But to be honest I don't care if I am penniless come Sunday as long as an Englishman (or Rory / GMac) is slipping into the green jacket come Sunday eve.

  • Comment number 17.

    As he is supposed to be the favourite for the title, why is no-one tipping Woods. I guess it is too obvious to say it is a "big week" for him, but there's got to be a chance of a TW comeback win, no?

  • Comment number 18.

    Biggest shock for me with all the predictions is that more people are tipping Couples to win than Woods. Personally I don't think either will do it but surely Woods has got more chance than good old Freddie, even if he has been out for 5 months?

  • Comment number 19.

    Wow... I can't believe it. This must be the first article I have read on this year's Masters that doesn't mention YOU KNOW WHO! I can't believe that not even one of the tipsters has mentioned Woods to have a big week surely this is the biggest week for him?
    Anyway I probably wouldn't have mentioned him so I can't really complain.
    Me I've gone for Westwood, Fisher, and my outside bet... Kymer

  • Comment number 20.

    Agree with he kaymer prediction. Usually putts like a demon and has good temperament. Overall would be very disappointed if no European is in contention coming down the stretch on Sunday.

    Fear that rory's back is not 100% yet so not expecting a huge show. I really hope I am wrong tho.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think Steve Stricker will go well. I also think Dustin Johnson is in with a good chance.

    Oh by the way, since when is Rory McIlroy part of the 'English' Contingent?? I always though he was Irish??

  • Comment number 22.

    Badger - As has been pointed out previously, "Rory McIlroy There's a lot of talk about the Englishmen but I feel McIlroy is a big event player. This could be a breakthrough major for him." The word BUT suggests that the writer feels McIlroy has a greater chance than the Englishmen that have been talked up a lot. Clear?
    There has been talk about who Rory will be representing come the 2016 Olympics (will he be world number 1 or world number 501 by then?!) as he would have the choice of GB or Eire, but that's a whole different matter altogether!

  • Comment number 23.

    Tee to green, Lee Westwood is the best in the world but his putting lets him down too often. One of these days his putting will click and i just have a feeling it will be at this Masters: come on Lee!

  • Comment number 24.

    @3 sychow if that happens I think I will be on the verge of suicide. He already gets enough air time on TV over here without him actually winning a major. I can guarantee I will never here the end of it until an earthquake destroys downtown Tokyo.

    I fancy Casey to have a good tournament but my money is on Villegas at 35/1.

  • Comment number 25.

    My money is on Ian Poulter Each Way. He's got the game and the attitude to go all the way!

  • Comment number 26.

    Nothing independent about the choice of winner from the Irish Independent! Wouldn't it be great if Tiger could win and silence his many critics who have been so quick to praise his successes in the past!

  • Comment number 27.

    Poulter, I hope he wins and think he can do it.

  • Comment number 28.

    As long as its anybody but Woods. He has'nt taken to the course yet and already I'm tired of his "comeback".

    The amount of coverage/articles he's getting on the Beeb is bordering on the obsessive, and I choose my words carefully when I say that - I'm not usually the one for moaning about every little thing, but jeez, get a grip with all these tiger articles.

  • Comment number 29.

    Sorry Burgau Phil, Westwood won't win.
    Sure, he's good tee to green (although not the best in the world - Iron play is not always great for a top pro) his putting simply doesn't cut it. If you can't putt you can't win the Masters, it really is that simple.
    I'm with Riggadon, anyone but Woods, PLEASE! Personally, if not an Englishman (particularly Casey), then I'd like to see Mickleson win, and he's certainly worth an each way punt.

  • Comment number 30.

    Personally, I think Stricker will be another one of the 'nearly' brigade, and will struggle to get into serious contention for the Masters.

    I'm, perhaps unfairly, discounting the Brits. I just can't see any of them having the bottle to see it out. The closest I believe will be Westwood.

    Peter Alliss' tip of Stenson is very interesting, have always been looking for him to step up. Him, Dustin Johnson and maybe Cabrera to challenge.

    And what about YE Yang? Maybe a chance for the PGA winner?

  • Comment number 31.

    It's interesting that Tiger Woods name is conspicously absent. The man hasn't played golf in 5 months and he's still number one. And just for that I hope he wins it just to make all these predictions a load of croc.

  • Comment number 32.

    Only one mention of Angel Cabrera. I certainly agree with Damon Hack that he comes under the radar. http://elchuncho.co.uk/ for an insight into why the green jacket may go back to South America this year.

  • Comment number 33.

    It is interesting that Woods isn't being tipped and I hope he doesn't feature. My money would be on Ernie Els and perhaps Cabrera. Anthony Kim is an interesting choice. He won last week but hit a very low percentage of fairways. Can't see it somehow.

  • Comment number 34.

    Well done BBC - you have ruined the Masters for me by having the exruciating Hazel Irvine to front the programme - how can I ever forget her continued reference to 'Carnasty' when the open was last held there. Awful.

  • Comment number 35.

    Come on Tom

    in the lead again. simply wonderful

  • Comment number 36.

    I would soooo love Sergio to do it! but would be happy for westwood, casey, poulter, fisher or watson.

  • Comment number 37.

    Not sure who will win but really enjoying the early coverage, Peter Allis, Ken Brown and Wayne Grady again and obviously the Veterans playing exceptionally well - especially Boom Boom! Its also nice to see Tiger Woods...

    Incidentally, I recently wrote a blog about my trip to the Masters in 2007 - for those interested, please feel free to read that here:

    http://fettesmgmt.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/view-from-the-spire-best-holiday-ever/

    David

  • Comment number 38.

    We all know that tiger is a fantastic player but surely the old adage of being born lucky rather than rich has worked for tiger yet again! Not only bouncing out the trees once, he did it twice so why can't Peter Aliss and the rest say the the truth about his luck, not only so far in this tournament but all his golfing career to date, why do the best players in any sport always get all mthe breaks?

  • Comment number 39.

    I hope it will be Yang & Tiger on the turn so that Tiger's tail will be yang. To remind everyone that Yang's major victory over Tiger was not a fluke.
    Else Poulter over Tiger!

  • Comment number 40.

    The halfway mark and the winner looks to be out of the top 6 on the leaderboard. Of my 3 picks before shot was hit,, Kim and Poulter have great chances and Villegas could still come through but he needs to really fire today. I see Woods, as always, as the biggest danger. He looks to be playing far more solid than prior to the recent break and he is the proven multiple Major winner. Kim is streaky but he's on one right now and could go manic today, and if so would take some pulling back for also he is a confidence player and would be even more so than he is right now. Poulter now has the game, the mindset and consistency - he believes in himself and loves the course that he is playing so well Like some other contributors I love seeing Watson and Couples competing - Fred will find 2 more days too much for his back but if the leaders start to falter, Tom could hang in and he won't miss out like at the Open last year and it would be the happiest win of all time. My money feels good on Kim and Poulter - the boys are firing and one of them should win - marginally I lean to Poulter as he's made very few mistakes but Kim could go manic so it all makes for great golf, fun and a fabulous tournament.

  • Comment number 41.

    Only one "expert" tip for Phil? Well done the Daily Mail. Remind me not to look here for tips for the next major. It wasn't exactly an outsider that won.
    But what a great story that he did win. Phil and Tiger are by far the biggest names in world golf and they are both going through difficult times. How fantastic that the man whose hardship is not of his own doing won. Congratulations to Phil. Good luck to both in overcoming their problems.

  • Comment number 42.

    Peter, Ken and other commentators.
    Try pronouncing OOsthuizen as OAsthuizen (the OA sounds like OAtmeal).
    great coverage, very exciting day ahead of us all.
    Gertrude

 

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