Ben Coley profiles every player in the field for the Masters Tournament, which begins on Thursday at Augusta National.
* Denotes debutant, (a) denotes amateur
Fourth Augusta visit for the former US Amateur champion who is now five years removed from his sole professional win. First seven rounds here were all over-par and his putting woes mean big numbers lurk around every corner at Augusta. Shot 70 in the final round back in 2017 to end that run and returns an improved player who has been working with Brad Faxon to cure those ills on the greens. Finished well in the CJ Cup but seldom does it for four rounds and continues to flatter to deceive.
Probably the most consistent and capable of the established maidens on the circuit now having elevated his game and status since winning the Australian Open in 2018. That's a lovely title to have on the CV but no doubt desperate to break through in the US, where he had a good chance in January at the American Express. One of those who hasn't done much wrong in defeat and it will come, but it's his accuracy off the tee which provides the basis for strong play and just how much that's worth here is debatable. Debutant who should at least get four rounds in.
Missed cut in the US Open no surprise for last year's US Amateur runner-up, but closer inspection reveals he hit the ball as well as just about anyone. Bring that with him here and perhaps a decent week beckons, though it's probably more likely he is found out on and around the greens once more and almost certain he won't be as effective with his long-game anyway.
The world number 13 is not in the field. Approached for comment, Fred Ridley declared: "It's out of my hands... and even if it were in my hands, my hands are tied."
Among the quiet successes of 2019 having broken through in Europe, winning at the historic Valderrama. That sort of test is best for a player who relies on accuracy and a sharp short-game, and he's found things a little tough since losing a play-off for the Dubai Desert Classic - partly because he's been learning on the job on the PGA Tour. Tough conditions were again key to his play in Dubai and if this does turn into a slog where wedges and short-games are especially important, he could beat his odds.
One of those who won't be in the field for the April version unless doing something soon. Has been really poor throughout the year and without a top-10 finish since playing on home soil last October. Still throws in the odd low one and played some of his best golf in ages at the US Open. That and the fact he's three-from-four here with two sub-70 rounds raise hope but his iron play has been bad for ages and will cost him shots he can't get back elsewhere.
Hugely talented Californian who hit the front here last year only to then hit the skids (ended bogey-bogey-par). That's been a criticism since he returned to the PGA Tour, where two of his three victories have been gained from off the pace and the other was pretty ugly. Still, should derive great confidence from the calibre of player he pipped last time out in the Zozo and it was nice to see his approach play step up there, having hindered him since his lighter-than-most return to action. Sharp short-game has played its part in wins at Sherwood and Muirfield Village and the latter is often compared with Augusta, where he was sixth in scrambling last year. Slight worry he's been way down the ball-striking stats in three Masters appearances but at least long-game has rounded into form at just the right time and the fact he's done so well at 'Tiger courses' is another small positive. Certainly good enough.
Shot 81 in the first round here last year, fully 16 shots worse than his closing 65 in the 2018 edition. The latter effort made it four top-15 finishes on the bounce, the previous three having been top-sixes, and all told he has eight top-20s from 13 visits to Augusta. Clearly likes the place and so he should as a fine ball-striker, but there's no doubt he's been a bit disappointing since contending for the PGA. Exception was a top-20 finish in the US Open so in isolation, his major efforts read well and with as many as 10 or 11 places on offer, there's a case to be made. Will need to be much better on the greens though and hard to fancy for the win part of any wager.
One of the two biggest hitters on the PGA Tour and arrives on the back of an encouraging top-10 finish at the Zozo Championship in his native California. That was his first significant effort since 10th in the PGA but that too followed a step forward in his previous start and is encouraging. Biggest positive would have to be his approach play, which had been a weakness throughout his first two years on the circuit but has been very solid the last twice. With his short-game also improving, this prodigious talent has a huge future given what he can do off the tee. Big ask on debut but if the argument goes that Bryson will eat alive the par-fives and hit it so far down the par-fours he'll be able to bully the course, then so too can Champ.
Reliable tee-to-green operator who won the Texas Open as a Monday qualifier last year and with it earned a last-minute Masters invite. Went on to play well for the first 54 holes and added to his debut as an amateur in 2015, he's now broken par in four of his six rounds here. Recent form is encouraging and he'd be something of a live one at a big price but for missing the cut in both majors so far this year. Should at least end that sequence.
Your mate who likes a golf bet will probably tell you to back Couples for the first-round lead, because he only gone and done it... in 2010. It's now seven years since he broke 70 at the course and that bird has surely flown, for all that he could sneak through to the weekend if fit enough. Let's hope so because he remains a joy to watch.
Utterly bizarre summer for this former world number one, who managed nothing better than 46th in his first four starts, then put together four top-10 finishes including at the PGA Championship, before his game fell off a cliff, and now appears back again at just the right time. It's largely tied to his approach play, which came good after he parted company with his long-time coach Col Swatton, but then reverted to type and may ultimately determine how successful he is here. That concern plus the usual fitness issues (withdrew when on course for a better finish in the CJ Cup) and there are all sorts of unknowns, but equally true is the fact he has a brilliant game for Augusta and is in contention in Houston where he's favourite as of Saturday evening. In eight starts in the Masters, he's withdrawn once, and on all seven other occasions has finished inside the top 30, including fifth last year. Risks are attached but he might be worth them.
Polarising powerlifter who looks set to go off favourite on the basis of his six-shot romp in the US Open. Impressive as that was, I'm not of the belief it makes him the best player in the sport and while that alone shouldn't determine who is favourite, the bottom line he looks far too short. Remember, he was 25/1 at Winged Foot and analysis of that victory must surely conclude that it was thick rough which helped him produce career-best approach-play figures. That area is usually a weakness and for much of summer we've watched him misjudge approaches and hit poor pitches off the tight lies which will face him here. Fact that he's statistically been the worst putter at Augusta since his debut four years ago is another negative and can be in part explained by the absence of green-reading books. These are significant questions for an 8/1 shot to answer and there are also doubts around his preparation, which has been done at home rather than in competition. Reports of a new, longer driver provide a further unknown and while those on at fancy prices are right to hope he can beat Augusta into the ground, now he's favourite it pays to be sceptical considering the most important category here - iron play - is the one he can struggle with. The bottom line is he's one of four players to have won twice since June. The other three are all bigger prices and two of them look to hold stronger credentials. Wins by seven then.
Won the RSM Classic in Georgia last year to earn his Masters debut and has had to wait a long time for it. Plenty of solid play since and in a busy schedule since June, has played at the weekend in 12 of his 15 starts. Relies on accuracy from the tee but don't underestimate the quality of his iron play, which powered an excellent effort at the US Open where he was 34th on a beast of a course. Type to kick on and win again but probably does need a shorter course and lower grade. On course for a strong title defence at nearby (in American terms) Sea Island soon.
Owner of an eclectic photo album of Masters memories, including that horrific ankle dislocation or whatever it was, and last year's front-row seat to Tiger Woods' remarkable 15th major. Still seeks his own breakthrough at any kind of recognisable level, four years on from a low-key win in Puerto Rico, and plenty have lost patience. No denying how reliable he's been in majors though with eight top-10 finishes in 17, seven of which have been in his last 10. That speaks to how adaptable he is, how strong a ball-striker he is, and his clear preference for proper examinations. Whether the putter will hold up under pressure we shall see but didn't do much wrong at Harding Park in September and a Masters record which reads 10-5 is deserving of the utmost respect. Surely popular with the places you're offered.
Baby-faced assassin who has been shooting himself in the foot this year, most notably in the third round of the BMW PGA, again at the CJ Cup, and then in the final round of the Zozo. Overall it's clear this deadly putter is playing really well and, in his words, just needs to 'stop hitting sh*t shots' which ruin all the good work. Sounds simple and if he can keep the big numbers off his card, and overcome a distance handicap (isn't short, but sure isn't long), he could go well. Made all four cuts here as a pro including when leading field in greens for top-10 finish in 2016, two years after he'd missed the cut by a single shot as an amateur, while last year's 21st came after he shot 78 in round one (67-68-70 thereafter). Sets high standards for himself and quietly fancied to become a major champion at some stage in what promises to be a long and lucrative career.
Form since returning reads 3-2-13 in Europe versus a best of 29th in the USA, that coming in the PGA Championship where a second-round 64 was delightful and vaulted him right into the thick of it again, before he unfortunately lost a ball up a tree on Sunday. Undeniably a little frustrating since then and has at times looked suspect over short putts. Otherwise has an obvious each-way chance as a consistent major contender whose preference for a right-to-left shot-shape works perfectly here. Carded a third-round 66 in 2018 and has hung around close to the top 10 throughout each of the last two renewals, so certainly goes down as a player you'd expect to be there come the back-nine at some stage in his Masters career.
Eight cuts made in nine visits to Augusta and, of the non-winners, play the course as well as just about anyone. Entered the final round within hailing distance of the lead on five occasions, including twice playing in the penultimate group, boasts an under-par scoring average, and there's probably nobody in the field - Jordan Spieth included - who putts these greens better. The concerns lie in the state of his game, which has been off since he left the Harmon stable and went to work with John Tillery. All parts have fired independently, but never together, and confidence has to be an issue. What's more, presumed focus on his swing has seen his putting stats dip alarmingly - he was very poor at the US Open and not good last time, either. Questions to answer but price will reflect them to an extent.
Missed the cut on his only previous start but is a better player two years on, with a win on the PGA Tour tucked away last summer. That raises hopes of improvement as does the fact he's driving the ball well right now and has been for some time, but iron play can be suspect and a top-20 finish would be towards the upper end of expectations.
Became the first Argentinian to win the Latin America Amateur Championship when conquering the familiar, PGA Tour-hosting El Camaleon in Mexico at the start of the year (had to confirm that date, because god it feels like a lifetime ago). Just 17 at the time, it was a most impressive performance and hinted at a bright future for all he's still got some work to do.
Classic Sergio, winning this major in 2017, the one at which he'd previously questioned whether he had in in him. Quite how he managed it remains a little hazy, especially after a drive left on 13 had appeared certain to end his chance. From there onwards he was superb, dispelling the myth that he has no bottle, and he was a worthy and (generally) popular champion. What's happened since is more bizarre. Once a regular contender and habitual bridesmaid in majors, Garcia has played 13 as an actual major champion, and his best finish is 21st. He's missed nine cuts and that's in fact nine of his last 11, including at Harding Park and Winged Foot, and both renewals of the Masters - a cut which ought to be easy to make. Throw in the 13 (thirteen) he made at the 15th hole when defending his title and what you have is a bleak outlook, but it's made brighter by a recent win in the Sanderson Farms and some generally improved displays, particularly off the tee. He's always been an enigma and has now graduated fully into 'the mad b*stard' status. Oh, and he's out after a positive Covid-19 test.
Former US Open winner known for good shots and bad putts. Oh and for playing without a glove, which is obviously hilarious. Form lately probably not quite as bad as it looks but he's here because he made the TOUR Championship in 2019, not because of anything more qualifying, more relevant, more encouraging.
Big improver since the start of the 2019 season, winning in Houston and making it all the way to East Lake, where he was again competitive. Bang in the mix across CJ Cup and Zozo fortnight before heading to a new course in Houston to defend his title, and arrives as a progressive player at the very top of his game. Notable that he was good in every department last season, very good in putting, and his no-frills game works anywhere. Still has to overcome an inexperience handicap but November may help in that regard, making it in some way new for everyone.
Solid Canadian famous for shooting 59 but hasn't built on last year's Presidents Cup debut. Makes plenty of cuts, missing just one since the return and only narrowly at that, but hasn't been in the mix for over a year now and looks below his best. Still, 36-24 is a solid start to your Masters career and he'll probably make the weekend again despite being short enough off the tee.
Was riding the crest of a wave when 12th here last year, opening 69-69 and generally showing no fear on his Augusta debut. Owed plenty to a remarkable on- and around-the-greens display and remains deadly with the long putter when at his best. Also hits a load of fairways and has low numbers in him - see 75-64-73-67 in Scotland as a fairly good indicator of what we're dealing with. Up against it in terms of matching 2019 effort but did play pretty well last week.
Entered the world's top 10 with victory at Wentworth in October, his third title in a year worldwide to take his overall tally to six. Properly elite now, his laser-straight ball-striking and generally excellent short-game making him a complete player who appears capable of contending anywhere. Bringing this improvement with him to Augusta will be key as he's broken par in one of his previous 10 rounds and hasn't done anything especially well here. Easy to write him off as a player without the patience to win a Green Jacket but not sure that carries much weight and he deserves to be considered a realistic contender despite missed cuts in two previous majors.
Defied good company and tough conditions to win at Quail Hollow last year, a championship course which is often a portent to major success. Very poor post-lockdown, however, with his iron play a massive concern, his driver inconsistent, and the putter not even firing. More like it last time out but still unconvincing.
Funny one to weigh up as most would tell you he's good at winning and generally reliable in the mix, yet his last solo title was in 2017 and so much of that reputation depends on what he did back in 2014. Certainly missed a great chance to land the Wyndham in August and while bullish there as to the overall state of his game, has since been lacklustre. The fact that he's becoming a better putter just as his ball-striking has depreciated makes him all the more curious, a Russell Henley alter ego or something. Anyway, while I used to think he'd go well here one day he's had five tries now, is yet to break 70 in 16 rounds, and it's time to move on.
Popular local who made his long-awaited return last year, his first start at Augusta since 2012, and finished a solid 32nd. Wasn't enough to earn a 2020 invite but managed to get one anyway having scraped through to the TOUR Championship come the end of the season. Has generally been his usual, consistent self since returning to form with third place in the 3M Open but relying too much on the putter and unlikely to threaten his personal best here, a share of 13th some 16 years ago.
Brilliant young talent whose performance at the Presidents Cup last year was as impressive as you'll see under the circumstances. Used that springboard to land a first PGA Tour win in the Honda Classic and not surprising that came under tough conditions. Putter has become a potential area of weakness - at the very least it's now in and out - and he does seem to be pretty reliant on bermuda greens to be at his absolute best. Still, when his aggressive irons are firing there are few better and that could carry him a long way on what's his Masters debut.
Star of the Japan Golf Tour who did well to make the cut at the US Open, where his iron play was a strength. Sole subsequent stateside start (yes, I did write that) came in the Zozo where he was 66th of 77 despite a second-round 64 and yet to suggest he'll bridge the gap to this level.
Former Masters winner whose brother is, I'm sorry, a really annoying broadcaster. Trev is much more understated when performing that role himself and is rarely seen on the golf course this days. Made the cut here for the first time in ages before closing 69 in 2019 but semi-retired and set for a return to type now. Oh, he's not playing now. Well I'm leaving it in.
Similar to Harding in that he was a shock contender in a major last year during a time when he was flying on the Asian Tour, where he ended 2019 as the winner of their money list having collected four titles. All this improvement came from working with Pete Cowen and he's always had ability. World ranking has slid this year and third place in Northern Ireland really the only positive as he searches for comfort.
The best player in the world since August and had already won again back in June, a victory he somehow followed with rounds of 80-80-78 which is just beyond explanation. Got back on track at Southwind and then went 2-1-2-3-6, winning by miles in Boston and then collecting the FedEx Cup for good measure. Spanner in the works came courtesy of positive coronavirus test and he did what he had to do and spent almost a fortnight in a hotel room, feeling a little under the weather and doing basically nothing. That meant he missed his two intended starts prior to the Masters and forced him to play Houston, where a second-round 66 suggests he was quickly back on track. All in all it's less than ideal but not a disaster and the phlegmatic Johnson will not dwell on the hours of range work or eight rounds of competition golf that he lost. Augusta record is outstanding and it's telling his worst round here over the course of his last four starts (each a top-10 finish) is 73. That's seriously consistent and as with each of the top five in the market, his chance is strong and obvious and it's a little hard to explain why he'd be quite a bit bigger than for a US Open where the field was deeper and the course was new.
Winner of a curious renewal in 2007 when cold and wet conditions made it more of a wedge contest, exactly the sort he can win. Famously went on to add the Open at St Andrews which is quite the double and his legacy is secure. Just one top-10 finish in his dozen returns to Augusta as a Masters winner but it was interesting to hear Tiger Woods float the idea that it could, maybe, just play like it did in '07. Not sure even that would be enough but Johnson has been playing really well lately and it's little wonder the 350 exchange prices disappeared last week.
Winner in Texas last spring so is another of those whose place here was won a long time ago. More recently has struggled and in precisely one-in-three starts since July, he's carded a round of 80-plus at some stage. Some decent major form but big red flag at the moment and must be taken on in some form.
In the field thanks to his 2017 PLAYERS Championship win, an exemption which runs out this year. Has shown enough in both his previous Masters efforts and his recent play to suggest he could earn a return via a different route, be that a top-12 finish here or via the OWGR where he's now back inside the top 100. Ultimately he is heading in the right direction again having switched coaches to Claude Harmon and we know he's a winner with bags of ability. Finished 13th in the PGA Championship, has form in the US Open, and is an interesting one here.
Georgia-educated and South Carolina-raised so this is an important event for him (everyone else goes 'meh', of course), and he's done well to make all four cuts. Three rounds of 69 in his last six are also encouraging and there have been some good signs in his game over the past few months, with seven top-25 finishes in nine (OK, one was in a field of... 30). Could be the one who steps up just slightly to perform the Kuchar role on an otherwise powerful leaderboard.
Winless and with just two top-five finishes since last August and has suffered badly with a knee problem which saw him miss the US Open. Worrying how long it has lingered and how much work it has required albeit does have the 2018 US Open to call upon, that successful title defence coming in just his fifth start back after an absence which saw him skip the Masters. Could history repeat? Maybe, if he can sharpen up his iron play from Houston, where there were also concerns with a heck of a lot of left-missing drives early in the tournament. It's a big ask but if anyone is up to it that man may be Koepka, whose Augusta form has an attractively progressive look to it: 33-21-11-2. Will have his backers, especially after scraping through to the weekend in Houston and making a forward move.
Shed his maiden tag at the CJ Cup, where we soon learned he'd amassed bags of course experience which appeared to somehow translate to a lights-out putting week. Golf. Actually earned his Masters debut through 2019 play like everyone else and while therefore made to wait, the timing suddenly looks perfect. Five top-20 finishes in his last six and the exception was a missed cut when he shot 68-68. Bang in-form and long off the tee so if he manages to keep putting well (has done four of his last five starts in fact) he could go really close. One to consider in 'top debutant' market as an alternative to the young guns who dominate it.
Slowly moving into a position of permanent vice-captaincy, those ping-pong skills considered an invaluable part of the US team dynamic we know works so well. Has won in each of the last three years but his last one which is really relevant came in January 2019 and he's well shy of his best. Augusta record is good and speaks to how far a class short-game can carry you, although don't underestimate his ball-striking when dialled in. Far from that now.
Popped up in contention at the 2016 US Open and has since won twice on the PGA Tour, both times at massive odds. Has something about him under the gun and plays well on tough courses, so not entirely surprising he fared quite well on debut when 46th and shooting solid rounds of 72-73-73-70. Making cuts again and a repeat possible.
Remember that voter fraud story from the last election? Good times. Anyway, the taut-skinned German arrives in good form having been playing well on the Champions Tour, where competition has suddenly and dramatically increased. Age is perhaps finally catching up with him and that will surely bleed into his Masters returns even if it's only four years since he entered Sunday with half a chance to win.
Streaky winner of last year's Rocket Mortgage Classic who has fired some low ones again of late, most notably in Vegas when opening with a round of 63. Not much else to shout about.
Struggled badly, more so than anyone in the world's top 30 or so, when reappearing in June. Hopes that the start of the new season would trigger improvement not entirely unfounded - he did hit the ball well for large parts of the CJ Cup - but the bottom line is he's without a top 20 since the start of the year, during which he won a high-class Farmers Insurance Open. Remains positive and has two top-10 finishes here but you don't win the Masters arriving in the form he's been showing.
Beat stud Takumi Kanaya to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur for a second time in 2019, for which he earns a second Masters invite. First saw him shoot 79-80 and while better and more experienced now - he finished 30th in the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour in January - it's still a mighty ask.
Open champion who nearly won a US Open and has a WGC to his name, therefore is clearly of the required whatever-you-call-it to win a Masters. Course record suggests it'll remain an uphill struggle as he's missed three cuts in four, and hasn't put four rounds together often this year. Disappointing from the front at Wentworth then stayed on for 28th in the CJ Cup and despite a step forward last week, probably not as well prepared as he was for Portrush - and certainly not as well-suited.
Finished 78th of 80 in the TimberTech Championship on the Champions Tour earlier in the month and hasn't made a cut here since 2014.
Seven cuts made in eight starts at Augusta show how valuable quality approach play is here, Matsuyama being one of the finest iron players around at his best. Also arguably at his most comfortable when greens are fast, odd as that may seem, and likes bentgrass, so there's plenty in the make-up of this event which brings out his best. Saw as much when he went 5-7-11 from 2015-2017 but has continued to regress since, not just here, and isn't hitting it to the standards of three or four years ago for all he showed flashes in Houston. Still makes some appeal having been bang there in the US Open and though memories are fading, he's capable of devastating golf and, indeed, of winning a Green Jacket.
Looking for his first top-10 finish in what will be his 10th Masters start, and is yet to end any one of his 26 rounds inside the top 10 on the leaderboard. Simply put, Augusta does not and has never suited his game, and it was only thanks to a red-hot putter that he ended a barren run with 24th place at Wentworth. Any price you like.
Famously blew a big chance to win this in 2011, though don't assume he'd have won the career grand slam had he completed the job. No doubt his bounce-back win at the US Open a few months later had much to do with that horror Sunday and it's possible to argue it was the making of him. Some would say that perspective has been softened by the six years which have passed since his last major and his Open victory before it, which set him up for these grand slam bids. As with most things McIlroy you can view things in various ways but he's been 10th, seventh, fifth and 21st in pursuit of history so has generally performed well, albeit his performance from the final group in 2018 was poor. Back to the present and he's started to play better since becoming a father, a fact likely tied to the relieving of stress rather than the traditional notes of the 'nappy factor'. Driver is certainly firing again (best in the field at US Open and CJ Cup) and putter too, so it will all come down to whether he's been able to dial in his approaches. I would argue that there are fewer wedges here than at most PGA Tour venues and that plays to his strengths. One way or another this looks a massive opportunity but for Rory, key may be to see it instead as just another one. There will be more.
Talented Australian who has had to remain amateur to keep his place in the field. Quite the backstory - read about it here - and it would be fair to say the road to Augusta has been a long and winding one. Shot 80-77 at the US Open however and expectations have to be low.
Three-time Masters winner who has been doing some Classic Phil things in recent years, i.e. selling some dodgy coffee on the internet, briefly wearing dress shirts on the course, taking the absolute piss out of the lads on the Champions Tour, and conjuring some great banter on the PGA Tour by adding a 'fairway finder' to his bag whose weakness appears to be... finding fairways. What can you say? Abysmal driving performances in the Zozo and again in Houston suggest he has very little chance but Augusta nous counts for so much and he's been 22nd, 36th and 18th over the last three years. That sort of result remains within reach even if he is accidentally playing up the wrong fairway.
At 62, sits right in the middle: too old to contend for the Masters, too young to launch his political career.
Spectacular fall from grace over the last 18 or so months, triggered by finding the water at the 12th hole here last April. At the time he'd been the man who appeared set to deny Tiger Woods, having made just one bogey over the first 60 holes, with victory here set to follow his Open success of the previous summer. Then the wheels came off, and in 20 subsequent starts this hitherto top-10 machine has none of them. Delayed his return to action having taken the decision to move the family to California which now means less access to his coach, too. Nice to see him break par in both comeback rounds in Vegas but after putter powered a step forward in Houston, this is surely too much, too soon.
Three wins in less than 18 months as a professional, including a major championship in his home state, tells you most of what you need to know. Quite simply a sensational golfer already and with an action the experts say will sustain. It's one which has already earned him a spot among the circuit's most highly-regarded ball-strikers and his approach work at times is out of this world. Held back on occasion by the putter, though it did power his PGA Championship win and it's not as though he is incapable of good weeks on the greens. Has to concede experience to others here and his win at Harding Park came on a course he knew, but still managed to triumph on his debut at Muirfield Village which is a course whose greens also take some knowing. If his irons are as good as they can be, and he's pin high all the time, there's no reason he can't end the debutants' hoodoo.
Very much like Griffin, started the 2019-20 season with his breakthrough win and has kept on getting better and better. Aged 27, there's plenty of scope to keep on doing so and what's most encouraging is that having began his PGA Tour career as a dynamite putter and not much else, his game is becoming more rounded by the month. Ranked second in all-important strokes-gained approach when 14th at the Zozo and while he's another debutant, his form in Georgia and level of competitiveness in good company all summer long puts him in a strong position. 77-82 weekend at the US Open suggests he still has a few more improvements to make but is surely a runner in the top South American market (mainly because... there's the amateur and... are there... any others? I need a break).
Eight starts here without cracking the top 10 but has come close, and there have been positives in each of his three starts since the US Open. Both majors so far in 2020 have ended early and that's four missed cuts in succession in the biggest events. Capable of ending the sequence here courtesy of his trusty short-game.
Missed cuts and big numbers playing on invites lately, including at the US Open where he putted the lights out for two days but still failed to make the weekend. This amateur will need to perform more miracles on the greens if he's to play in round three.
Popular veteran who played all right for a while at Valderrama and in Portugal on the European Tour, before finishing well for 20th in the Champions Tour. Just two of his last 26 rounds at Augusta have been better than par, though, and that's added up to eight missed cuts in 10. Likely another coming.
Four missed cuts and one luckless play-off defeat made for a bizarre start to his career at Augusta. Since, he's established a run of real consistency, hitting virtually the same number of greens and filling virtually the same spot on the leaderboard year after year. That leaves him needing just small improvements to really get in the mix, which is what he once again did in a major when third at the US Open. Only real negative is a poor performance at the CJ Cup, but Shadow Creek was a course which had something quirky and unsettling about it and I wouldn't take everything it threw up at face value. Assuming there were no fitness issues there's really no cause for concern and yet again we have a chance for Oosthuizen to win what would be his first title on US soil. That is mental.
One-time talented amateur who impressed when landing last April's RBC Heritage, earning an early Augusta invite. It's been a particularly long wait then but at least his play is improving at the right time having been well out of sorts earlier in the year. Still, he's well short of the power typically required here and when he does pop up again it'll likely be at the Sony Open, RSM Classic, Mayakoba, Colonial... you know the sort. Yet to threaten at this level and surely not going to change that now.
Tall Frenchman who was a surprise winner of the Dunhill Links last year, during which we discovered he in fact lives in Scotland. That plus several other big weeks, including in the WGC-Champions, laid the groundwork for a Ryder Cup debut but the postponement of the event means he's got work to do again. Form has at least improved lately and should draw real encouragement from 22nd in the PGA Championship. Has Rory's former caddie on the bag to help mitigate a lack of course experience and if his iron play is as good as it can be he can match that major debut here.
Became the first player since Lee Trevino to win a PGA Tour event without making a bogey at last year's Wyndham - although Scott Piercy had gone bogey-free earlier in the season, too... he just didn't win. Presumably, Piercy thinks he did in fact win, and that Kang's victory was a Deep State conspiracy. Anyway, it was some way for Poston to break through, especially in his home state, and for a while he continued to threaten thanks to a solid, all-round game. Edging back towards his best again since the new season began but poor off the tee and would be a shock contender.
One of those who underscores the fact that you can go well here without hitting it miles, or in fact hitting it especially well, and that's because his short-game has always been brilliant. That's certainly true right now although after finishes of 6-5-12 since he was outmuscled by the US Open, he withdrew from Houston with his back not great. Ball-striking frailties did pop up in Scotland where he managed to top a drive about 150 yards when still in with a sniff but one way or another, has made 12 of 13 cuts here. Would be fair to say there are question marks over the majority of the English contingent and he'd be an interesting one to be the best of them, but for the fitness concern.
Another debutant who has been made to wait and will relish the opportunity to play Augusta National, his attitude and perspective no doubt further improved by the recent arrival of a second child. That may have helped spark some definite steps forward this season and he hit the ball as well as he has in a long time in Bermuda, where just a quiet second round kept him from the top 10. That's an altogether different test and he's not on the radar here, but should he turn up at the RSM Classic or in Mexico, at courses where accuracy counts, your card has been marked.
One of those to have won twice since the PGA Tour restarted in June and both were in their own way spectacular: first he was a million miles clear for much of the Memorial, and then he holed that putt to beat Dustin Johnson in a play-off for the BMW Championship. Professional for little over four years and has already achieved everything bar win a major - which includes reaching the summit of the game. Finishes of 27th, fourth and ninth on his first three tries here suggest Augusta is as good a place as any to get over the line and the way he's hit the ball in particular has to go down as encouraging. If there is a complaint it's that he's only once entered the final round of a major within three of the lead and never closer, but that will change very soon and he is probably the most solid candidate in the field by all other measures. Huge chance.
One of the most accurate drivers around but has been suffering badly on and around the greens this year, hence a failure to reach the heights of 2019. They included a top-three finish in the US Open and he does have some sneaky major form, but it's all away from here, where he's broken par once in 10 rounds. Prime candidate to be taken on in three-balls despite the odd flash of encouragement lately.
Really game winner of this in 2018 and a defiant one in many ways: he'd missed the cut in 2017, hadn't broken 70 at the course before (traditionally a key trend) and isn't as long or necessarily as strong an iron player as you'd think would be required. All heart though and a killer short-game which is why he stood firm when McIlroy failed to and ultimately ran out a convincing winner. Share of 36th in title defence perfectly acceptable and arrives in form with finishes of 13th, third and 14th since the new season began. First of those was in the US Open, where he looked like he might be the man to beat throughout the first two days, and plainly has his chance here.
Missed the cut here in 2019 for the very first time in his career, having made each of his first 13. On six occasions he's ended a round of golf at the Masters with nobody in front of him on the leaderboard, though the last time he did that there was alas someone next to him, and that someone won the play-off. May feel like Augusta owes him one and there aren't many who know how to get around the course better. Remarkably, Rose was top-six in greens hit in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, ranking second in each of the last four in that sequence. Also consistently among the best drivers in the field, there's no disputing the fact that at his best, he's a prime candidate to play well. Regrettably he still appears a long way from it having ended his time with Sean Foley (though the Canadian is still on call should Rose need him) and there's a suspicion his chance to win this may have gone. That said can draw plenty from the recent exploits of plenty of fellow 40-somethings, including Garcia himself, and three of his final four rounds prior to tee-off here were very good. Top-10 at the PGA Championship, too, and it'd be great to see him win and reject the Green Jacket lest it hide a sponsor logo from the photographers.
Habitual major contender ever since his first try in one at the 2017 US Open. Inauspicious debut here followed by runner-up finish to Tiger Woods and two sub-70 rounds ensure he returns armed with everything he needs to contend again at Augusta. The one nagging issue is that he keeps getting beat - by Berger at Colonial, Kokrak at the CJ Cup - but did produce the best score in the TOUR Championship, where a staggered start meant Johnson won the event. Probably best not to dwell on an almost two-year gap without silverware and focus instead on the fact that he has finished between 25th and first (counting East Lake as first) in each of his last dozen starts. Indeed his only failure since the Tour returned came days after he gave away the Charles Schwab Challenge late on. Game is without weakness and in peak condition.
Another powerful and talented kid who has been threatening to win on the PGA Tour for much of the year. That includes when left for dead by DJ in Boston, where he carded a round of 59, and when playing with the same guy in the final group of the PGA Championship. All this is valuable experience ahead of his Masters debut and has gradually improved since missing the US Open due to a positive coronavirus test. Would think he'll be challenging for many more majors in the years to come but first PGA Tour win will likely come in calmer waters where there's an emphasis on stacking up birdies, for all he's finished inside the top five on all three starts in Georgia.
Won this in 2011 with birdies at 15, 16, 17 and 18 and it's a shame he wasn't wearing his silly hat at the time, because I could've used the headline Shockodile Dundee or Crocodile Done-Deal. Really is strange to see this fine player and major champion trotting around like he's Paul Hogan and more unsettling is his move to a non-big-name golf ball since returning from injury late last year. Performances since are similar to his efforts at Augusta: when he's on, he's likely to be bang there, but he's hardly ever on. Some good signs with his ball-striking in Houston but honestly I've no idea what he'll do here.
Produced an iconic Masters moment when yelling 'C'mon Aussie!' as his birdie putt at the final hole dropped back in 2013. Had to then watch Angel Cabrera also birdie the last to force a play-off but won it with another birdie in the sort of performance you can file under 'enough is enough', coming as it did less than a year after he handed Ernie Els another Claret Jug. Everything he does is now geared around becoming a two-time major champion and it could happen at Augusta, where he hasn't missed a cut since 2009. In eight of these 10 appearances he's ranked 15th or better in greens (first, fourth twice, sixth and eighth among them) and there were positives within his performance in Houston. Fresh, determined, confident and a plausible winner for all I suspect he's not quite operating at 100%.
Easy to make a case for as a two-time winner in 2020, who won the US Open back in 2012 and added the PLAYERS in 2018. That said, for all he shot a third-round 64 last year and closed with a round of 67 in 2018, finishing fourth and 20th across those two starts, Augusta isn't exactly a perfect fit. His iron play has also dipped lately and he can't win this with the putter, or at least I don't think he can. Wouldn't read anything into the fact his caddie beat him here in a prep round but it's with good reason that he's slipped out of focus.
Hard-working Fijian who won this 20 years ago and followed up with a string of excellent efforts. Playing well on the Champions Tour despite the influx of relative youth which is of a particularly high standard, but increasingly out of his depth at Augusta.
Terrier-like youngster who downed Justin Thomas at the Presidents Cup and went on to win his first PGA Tour title in January. Slumped thereafter but ever since Memorial in summer he's got better and better, finally putting four rounds together to finish fourth in the CJ Cup. Placed both here and in the US Open so if you are of the view that power isn't essential, should be considered for the shortlist with his iron play firing. Will need to putt well but there will be few who arrive with such a solid preparation behind them.
Twice played in the final group here and looks as comfortable as anyone over five-foot par saves on these notoriously treacherous greens. That said he turns 40 in December and there's a suspicion the bird has flown when it comes to adding a major to his impressive CV. If he is to contend for one again it may well be the Masters, and he's always been horses-for-courses - hence his best effort of 2020 came at a course where he's won twice before. There's some kind of hope now the putter is back firing but the rest of his game surely isn't good enough right now.
Would call it a flawless Augusta record but for what happened in 2016, when he was on course to win his second Green Jacket in three attempts only to come unstuck - badly, horribly, famously, devastatingly - at the 12th. Hasn't let that linger given that he's since added the Open Championship and, more to the point, played well in each of his three subsequent visits here. And while they'll tell you it's all about the putter, Spieth ranked first and second for greens hit on his first two Masters appearances and, clearly, has hit the ball far better than most here. It's a course which appeals to his thoroughness and clarity of thought, plus his underrated ability to hit approach shots exactly where he wants, or else miss exactly where he should. All of this is of course undermined by his driving and even mental frailty at the moment, which saw him miss the cut in Houston having spent much of the first round in the lead. Won't be in my staking plan but is one of those who nobody should talk you out of. Not here, not even now.
Failed to break 70 in his first seven visits but has done so in five of his subsequent seven as he gradually works out how to play Augusta. Definitely doesn't fit him as well as it does some other top-class players though of course his approach play has been a real strength over the years. Main issue is he doesn't tend to relish hitting driver and this is a course where doing so is an absolutely fundamental requirement. All of this perhaps explains why, for all he's started playing consistently well here, he generally hangs around outside the top 10, minding his own business. Withdrew from the Bermuda Championship two starts ago after a horror start to round two before an abysmal ball-striking display resulted in a missed cut in Houston, and unlikely to be a factor.
Winner of the Amateur Championship who was out in the first group at Portrush last year and held his own as crowds flocked to see Darren Clarke go on a run. Shot 78-79 to miss the cut at the US Open and seriously lacking in experience for all he did make the cut in a fairly weak edition of the Irish Open last time. As with all the amateurs, will do well to play more than two rounds.
Downed Mickelson to win his second PGA Tour title at the start of the year, but has done nothing in a dozen starts since and this is an altogether different challenge. Not expected to trouble the scorers on his Augusta debut despite making three cuts from five major starts elsewhere.
Here is a man whose Augusta form is so much more encouraging than it may at first appear. Finishes of 39th, 22nd, 17th and 12th are of course solid, but some might tell you they suggest he's a little way behind the likes of Rory, Rahm, Johnson and Koepka, each of whom have top-10s to their name. Thomas though has quietly built the platform for his first taste of contention at the Masters, having hit more greens, longer drives and fewer putts with every passing year. In 2018 only one player hit more greens and the number was just two in 2019, so the message is if he can work out how to make his share here, he's ready for lift-off at a course where his iron play - arguably the best in the sport - is so valuable an asset. Also worth reiterating that he's won 14 times in seven years, 11 of those coming in the last four, including a major championship. Fair to say he has lacked consistency at times - particularly in some of those majors - but eighth at Winged Foot was a big step forward given he didn't have his A-game. Only real gripe is he's missed two very good chances to win since June but another way to view it would be that he could so easily have added a couple more titles to his collection, rather than just the one he picked up at Southwind. As good a chance as anyone.
Two-time winner last season to complete a remarkable return from the golfing abyss. Having fallen outside the world's top 2000 and been unable to swing the club, slowly he put the pieces back in place before winning in Bermuda and Mexico. Had several chances at a higher level since but has struggled in the final round and remains a little suspect at the very top level. Still, impressive that this Georgia resident is back at Augusta five years on from a nightmare debut in which he opened with a round of 80. Should do better this time.
South African who broke through on the European Tour last year, a couple of months after a top-10 finish at the PGA Championship. Went on to play well enough in both the US Open and the Open, and his strong tee-to-green game has been complemented more than once lately by a behaving putter. One of those with the right make-up for Augusta at the first time of asking and has built confidence lately, including at Winged Foot. Hopes high for a good showing on debut. Get the guitar.
Gets in here as a former winner of the PGA Championship and his love for the course is such that he's so far done himself justice, making all six cuts. Remarkably, he's done so despite never breaking 70, producing instead 16 rounds in the mid-to-low 70s. That shows how easy this cut is to make and it wouldn't surprise me were he to do so again, without ever looking like he might threaten the contenders.
Struggled here on debut in 2019 and returns with his game a little in-and-out. Very much in for the most part during the Scottish Championship, which he was a short price to win with a round to go, and the fact he's missed just one cut in 12 says plenty about him. Definitely one of those who looks ready to win again but surely won't be here, for all he's driving the ball nicely, and will need other aspects of his game to be far better than they were in Italy.
Two-time champion who has been hitting the ball as well as ever lately, which finally translated into top-10 finishes in the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship. Looks to have timed his preparation perfectly and the fact he's added some Augusta consistency (5th and 12th last two years are his best two finishes away from the wind) is another source of encouragement. Would have to drift to be of serious interest with those big prices of three or four weeks ago having been mopped up, so perhaps the best way to side with him will be against Phil in the top left-hander market.
Threatening on the Champions Tour lately and that may have done his confidence some good. Still, nine of his last 10 rounds at Augusta National have been 76 or higher.
Playing some splendid stuff this year as he has for a couple now, just as I and others suspected he was ready to move into a more ceremonial role. Nothing left to achieve in golf bar win a major and though it's highly likely his chances have been and gone, remember he has been fourth and 13th in his last two. Plenty will consider him a viable each-way option as a result and he's almost one-in-three when it comes to the top-10 finish you'll likely need for a payout. Returns here for the first time since 2017 and has seven top-20s in his last eight Masters appearances. That would be the way to go or else explore that top Englishman market where he shouldn't be underestimated.
Four-from-four here and also has experience playing in the final group of the PGA Championship way back in 2014. Otherwise hasn't quite managed to complete the switch to the PGA Tour despite being among the best the European Tour has to offer, and the same goes for his Ryder Cup attempts. Consistent without doing much since returning but encouraging that he started to hit his approach shots much better in Italy last time. If he builds on that could be an each-way danger to Rahm in the top European market given his experience here.
Kept his cool and hit a succession of world-class shots to capitalise on Spieth's meltdown here in 2016 to become a surprise Masters winner. Like most of those, did arrive in really good form having had a chance in WGC company earlier in the year, and produced quality iron-play throughout the first 54 holes before a final round which probably goes down as underrated. Suffered a serious dip afterwards but has managed to win two mega-money European Tour events. That said he's missed all three cuts as Masters champion and withdrew from the Houston Open last week citing a flare-up with his wrist problem. One to swerve.
Brilliant young player with an explosiveness and uniqueness which probably makes him more marketable than Morikawa and Hovland, from the same college cohort. Fourth to Morikawa in the PGA before chasing home DeChambeau in the US Open, holding genuine chances to win both and indeed having been the 54-hole leader in the latter. Will have learned plenty and it's worth stressing these were his very first major appearances, which should be remembered when ranking those who are attempting to become the first debut Masters winner since about 1776. Approach play has been especially impressive lately and it's only his tendency to throw in a shocking round or string of holes which is off-putting, plus the fact that his lack of experience here is a handicap of some sort.
Although keen not to dwell on form at Shadow Creek, seeing Woodland lose more than 11 strokes to the field off-the-tee there was deeply concerning. He's been in a slump for a while, consultations with Justin Parsons not yielding the results they have in a couple of other high-profile cases, but that effort at the CJ Cup was catastrophically bad. It leaves him poorly prepared for the Masters, where he has as many rounds in the 80s as he does the 60s. Did get on a run once in 2014 but otherwise hasn't delivered here and if he hits it anywhere nearly as badly as he did in Vegas, he won't be playing at the weekend.
Where do you even begin? I'll try last year and that 15th major, the first he'd achieved having been behind entering the final round. It's probably unpopular to point out he had everything drop right - if there is a god, and he likes Tiger Woods, he was blowing balls back into Rae's Creek short of the 12th green - but Woods was ultimately rewarded for patience and poise; for remaining calm and in control during a chaotic back-nine at Augusta. The shots he hit to 16 and 17 were seriously impressive and we can all forgive the way he chopped it up 18. Then came that roar, equal parts joy and relief. It had looked as though he was done, not just winning majors or even tournaments but playing golf at a high level. It's a comeback to match any comeback and who cares now (well, Tiger I suppose) what he goes on to achieve. Woods has in my mind cemented his status as the greatest golfer of all time. So great that I won't write him off despite the fact his best finish in six starts since he returned was 37th at the PGA, and despite the fact that he appears to be doing nothing particularly well. He is, after all, Tiger Woods.