Masters Preview - 2022
“SOME PEOPLE WILL ACTUALLY TELL YOU WHAT IT IS THEY AIM TO DO TO YOU AND WHENEVER THEY DO YOU MIGHT WANT TO LISTEN” – Cormac McCarthy
“ONLY THOSE WHO DARE TO FAIL GREATLY CAN EVER ACHIEVE GREATLY” – Robert F. Kennedy
The Hateful Eight – The 8 golfers I’m betting in this year’s Masters
Patrick Reed for Top 10 (6-1) – Ranked 31st in the world and 31 years old, the 2018 Masters Champion has finished in the Top 10 in 3 of the last 4 Masters. Reed, who played at Augusta State in college, simply OWNS this course. Under the radar due to zero Top 10s in 2022 and three missed cuts, Reed relishes the chance to play spoiler, villain or whatever his critics want to call him. It still stings that he was passed over for last year’s Ryder Cup, so he should have PLENTY of motivation in this one. Say whatever you want to say about The Woodlands, Texas resident, but Reed is talented, committed and very, very good, especially at this course. Are you about feelings or are you about making money?
Tyrrell Hatton for Top 10 (4.5-1) – Currently ranked 16th in the world, he’s ranked #1 in the world in strokes gained putting. He’s finished in the Top 10 in 5 of his last 8 events. Hatton has struggled in his career at Augusta (no Top 10s and 2 missed cuts in 5 appearances); but, since he got married in late 2021, he appears to be more focused and his game is trending in the right direction. Last year’s T18th at Augusta was a personal best and I think he continues to trend upward. Other than Augusta, he has finished in the Top 10 five times in majors, including at least once in every major.
Thomas Pieters for Top 10 (8-1) – Currently ranked 33rd in the world, the former University of Illinois golfer has won TWICE on the DP World Tour since November. He is playing the best golf of his career. After having a world ranking of 36th at the end of 2017, a year in which he finished T4th at Augusta, his career took a few bad turns and he wound up 84th in the world at the end of 2020. He has progressed nicely since then, and Nick Faldo has been a big advocate of this Belgian’s ability.
Adam Scott for Top 10 (4.5-1)/sprinkle a little on (55-1) to win - The 2013 Masters Champion is now ranked 36th in the world. At age 41, he still pounds the ball off the tee, and his game appears to be in the middle of a renaissance. He has four Top 10s in seven events this season. Perhaps no player was hurt more by the COVID layoff than Scott. His focus – like that of many – was more on survival than anything else; hence, his golf game suffered. In March 2020, Scott was ranked 6th in the world. At the start of this year, he was ranked 50th. With the aforementioned four Top 10s in seven events this year, he appears to fully back on track and is climbing up the world rankings. He is a former number 1 ranked player in the world, and between the PGA, European and Asian Tours he has won a whopping 29 times in his career. He also has five Top 10s in 20 career appearances at Augusta. Nicknamed “The Big Queenslander”, Scott is playing really well, plays well historically at this course and knows the course probably as much as anyone in the field. His detractors never trust his putting stroke, but this year he ranks 13th on Tour in SG Putting.
Jordan Spieth for Top 5 (4.5-1)/to WIN (22-1) - Currently ranked 18th in the world, Spieth won the 2015 Masters and has finished in the Top 5 in 5 of his 7 April Masters appearances (worst finish was in 2020 when tourney was held in November). Speaking of 2020, Spieth was ranked 82nd in the world at the end of 2020. He had nine top 10s in 2021 and finished 2nd at Pebble Beach this February. He is clearly a horse for the course, and if you are concerned with his overall lackluster play in 2022 outside the 2nd place finish at Pebble, I offer the following: Hideki Matsuyama was T53rd, T42nd, MC, T15th, T18th, MC, T42nd and T30th in his eight starts before winning last year’s Masters. And don’t think he hasn’t noticed fellow Texan and Longhorn Scottie Scheffler stealing the spotlight in the last month. Time to take it back??
Patrick Cantlay to WIN (25-1) – The reigning FEDEX Cup Champion is ranked 5th in the world. Counting his FEDEX bonus check, he made $22.6 million in prize money last year (more prize money won than anyone in the world playing golf in 2021). He has four Top 10s in six stroke play events this year, including three Top 5s. In terms of physical talent I will let the following quote from Open Champion Stewart Cink describe him:
"He's plenty long. He hits plenty of fairways. He's got a massive short game. He's tough under the gun, and he's a great putter. I mean, I know golf pretty well. You tell me if I'm missing anything here. He's just the whole package”.
In terms of mental toughness, Cantlay has off the charts resolve. He overcame the death of his caddie Chris Roth in 2016. Roth died in Cantlay’s arms after being struck crossing an intersection while the two friends were barhopping, and Cantlay dedicated his career to Roth’s memory. Cantlay finished T9th at the 2019 Masters, a tourney he briefly led during the final round. This sets up to be his best Masters ever.
Collin Morikawa to WIN (20-1) – The world’s 3rd ranked player is historically great. At age 25, Morikawa has won two majors and a World Golf Championship. No player not named Tiger Woods has ever done that. He was playing well at the end of 2021 and in February of this year he had a T2nd at The Genesis. The biggest knock against him winning this week is that this is only his 3rd Masters, and in his two previous Masters he finished T44th and T18th (Most players who win at Augusta have played the competition at least four times). I counter that with the historically great argument: Tiger Woods won his first Masters in his 3rd try. So can Collin. I remember last year in The Open championship when not only was Morikawa a popular pick NOT to win, but we was a popular pick to FADE. He proved the doubters wrong. Not only did he play well, he WON. Morikawa wins in California, he wins in Florida, he wins in Dubai, he wins in Sandwich, England. No, he’s not Tiger Woods, but like Tiger, he wins EVERYWHERE. He can win in this spot too.
Xander Schauffele to WIN (20-1) - The world’s 10th ranked player finished T3rd at last year’s Masters. CBS golf analyst Ian Baker-Finch said you would be hard-pressed to find a golfer on tour that works harder than Schauffele. The hard work has paid off. He was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2017, and he followed it up with a T2nd at the 2018 Open, and then a T2nd at the 2019 Masters and a T3rd at the 2019 US Open. He had two more Top 10 major finishes in 2020 and followed it up with two more Top 10 major finishes in 2021, along with winning the Olympic Gold Medal. On top of his obvious talent, I have the sneaky suspicion that Schauffele is one of those golfers that own certain courses. For example, he won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in 2019. In 2020, he finished 2nd and in 2021 he finished T5th. In 2017 he won the Tour Championship at East Lake. In 2019 he finished T2nd and in 2020, he had the lowest overall score not counting the starting strokes. In 2018 he won WGC-HSBC. In 2019, he finished T2nd. You get my drift. I think Augusta may be one of a handful of courses that Schauffele “owns”. Plus, he is DUE. He has gone 66 consecutive PGA events without winning – yes the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions is the last PGA event Xander won - and he is the 10th rated player in the world. At some point, a guy this good and driven is going to win, and why not on a course where he plays well. At 20-1, he appears to be a stock that is oversold and a screaming BUY.
Editor’s Note: The author is seeking his 5th major. Last year when Collin Morikawa tapped in for par to win The Open Championship by two strokes over Jordan Spieth, The Bearded Talisman became the first sports gambler ever known to win all four golf majors within a 12-month window.