April 01, 2016


Age: 28.

Country: Australia.

World ranking: 1.

Worldwide victories: 10.

Majors: PGA Championship (2015).

Masters moment: Losing a two-shot lead with three holes to play in 2013.

Backspin: Coming off victories in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Dell Match Play, he has taken over as a leading candidate to win a green jacket. Twice a runner-up at Augusta, but still haunted by 2013 when he had a two-shot lead on the 16th tee and made two straight bogeys. Tiger Woods in 2001 was the last player to win two straight tournaments going into the Masters and capture the green jacket.



Age: 22

Country: United States

World ranking: 2.

Worldwide victories: 9.

Majors: Masters (2015), U.S. Open (2015).

Masters moment: Setting the 36-hole record (130) and tying the 72-hole record (270) by going wire-to-wire to win.

Backspin: In his two appearances at the Masters, Spieth has won and finished second. In eight rounds, he has yet to post a score over par. This time he goes in with the pressure of being the defending champion.



Age: 26.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide victories: 18.

Majors: U.S. Open (2011), British Open (2014), PGA Championship (2012, 2014).

Masters moment: Leading by four shots going into the final round in 2011 and shooting 80 in the final round.

Backspin: For the second year, McIlroy goes into the Masters needing to win to complete the career Grand Slam. His 54-hole lead in 2011 suggests it can happen. His putting remains suspicious at times, and he switched to a cross-handed grip in March.



Age: 27.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 5.

Worldwide victories: 6.

Majors: None.

Masters moment: Being asked not to wear his hat backward at Augusta National.

Backspin: This is the only major in which Fowler has never missed the cut. He was two shots behind in 2014 but fell back quickly and never seriously contended. Coming off a three-victory season, and he started this year by winning in Abu Dhabi against a strong field.



Age: 45.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 20.

Worldwide victories: 45.

Majors: Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), British Open (2013), PGA Championship (2005).

Masters moment: Winning his first major in 2004 with an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

Backspin: Mickelson has become a popular choice for the Masters because he has been playing well this year, and because he always seems to play well at Augusta National. Along with his three victories, he has five third-place finishes.



Age: 37.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 4.

Worldwide victories: 10.

Majors: Masters (2012, 2014).

Masters moment: The wedge with a 40-yard hook out of the trees to 10 feet on the 10th hole in a playoff to win his first Masters.

Backspin: Watson moved to the A-list of favorites with his play this year. He won at Riviera and was runner-up at Doral, after ending last year with a victory in the Hero World Challenge. When he's on, he's tough at the Masters. But his only two top 10s were the years he won. That makes the opening two rounds important for him.



Age: 35.

Country: Australia.

World ranking: 6.

Worldwide victories: 27.

Majors: Masters (2013).

Masters moment: Making a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in regulation in 2013, and then making a 12-foot birdie on the second playoff hole to beat Angel Cabrera.

Backspin: So much for the ban on anchored putters ending his career. Scott might be the hottest player in golf going into the Masters with a runner-up at Riviera and victories in the first two PGA Tour events of the Florida swing. A good putting week would seem to be crucial at the Masters, but the year he won, Scott didn't really make anything until the final hole.



Age: 31.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 9.

Worldwide victories: 9.

Majors: None.

Masters moment: Tied for sixth at the Masters last year, his first top 10.

Backspin: He's had heartache in every major but the Masters, but last year was a step in the right direction. Johnson started off the year with a lot of rust and looked to be rounding into form. The question is how much scar tissue he has accumulated from losses in other majors. Even so, his ability alone would have to make him a contender.



Age: 36.

Country: England

World ranking: 8.

Worldwide victories: 15.

Majors: U.S. Open (2013).

Masters moment: Leading by two shots going into the weekend in 2004, and then posting an 81 in the third round.

Backspin: Rose played in the final group and was runner-up last year. He has never missed the cut in 10 previous appearances at Augusta National. He hasn't won since Hong Kong late last year, but he has been quietly hanging around just about every tournament. A great driver and iron player, his worst finish in the last five years was a tie for 25th.



Age: 37.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 28.

Worldwide victories: 9.

Majors: None.

Masters moment: Tied for the lead with three holes to play in 2012 until making bogey on the 16th hole and finishing two shots out of a playoff.

Backspin: First showed his aptitude for Augusta National as an amateur in 1998 when he tied for 21st. He was tied for the lead late in the final round in 2012 and went into the final round in 2014 one shot out of the lead.

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