The Masters, as the name suggests, have the smallest field in the major men's championship golf course by a considerable margin. The United States Open, British Open and P.G.A. Championships all have 156 player fields, while Augusta National hardly ever invites more than 100 players – and prefers to stay comfortably below that limit.
The club compiles an annual list of qualifications as a selection criterion. Consider golfers' results during the year up to the week prior to the tournament, a measure from April to April. This year, that method didn't change, despite the Masters having been postponed for seven months to November, locking in a 96-player field before many of the most notable tournaments took place.
Notably excluded are Viktor Hovland, a former American amateur winner was in the top 25 and Daniel Berger, who rose from 106th place in the world rankings in February to a figure even 13th this fall, the average ranking of Masters winners over the past decade. "I'm not sure what else I need to do at this point to get to Augusta," he said in August. "I'm a little baffled that I haven't had the opportunity to at least hear from the guys there and of course have a chance." Berger won the June Charles Schwab Challenge to secure a spot in the 2021 Masters field, where he will challenge one of these potential winners.
Tee Time: Friday 2:08 PM Odds: 9/1
DeChambeau & # 39; s aggressive bomb-and-gouge strategy, packed with 350 to 400-yard drives, has made him an early focus of the 2020 Masters. But his weight and distance gain also forced him to compete in the first two major championships of the year: he finished fourth on the P.G.A. Championship in August, his first top-10 finish in a major, and smothered the US Open field for his first major win.
The & # 39; Mad Scientist & # 39; can experiment with a 48-inch driver in pursuit this week. of domination on the long ball, but DeChambeau's pit could ultimately determine his finish. The notoriously methodical DeChambeau usually delves into green-reading books for his putts on the PGA Tour, a practice that's a no-no at the Masters. He has struggled to put well there in the past, with his best finish in 2016 when he finished 21st as an amateur.
With DeChambeau and his explosive rides headlining this week, it's no wonder that Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley commented that "we are at a crossroads when it comes to this issue." Ridley added that Augusta National would support any action by the game's governing bodies, which are still undergoing a multi-year remote study, but that at a professional level, the game is "moving closer to a call to action."
Ridley stepped on the brakes in conversations about adapting course to the long ball. "I've been reluctant to make any major changes in increasing the distance to the golf course so far," Ridley said Wednesday. & # 39; I think if you do, I mean, I think that will result in unintended consequences. The scale and scope of the hole, it changes when you add spacing. It changes more than just adding distance. The hole's appearance changes. And the hole design philosophy is changing.
Tee Time: Fri. 10:25 am Odds: 12/1
DeChambeau & # 39; s Remote Carnival is drawing the most attention this week, which should suit McIlroy. As he enters Masters week, he's usually the focus of nagging questions about his haunted history with the tournament, the only major he's never won.
McIlroy has had a stable, but not spectacular year by his standards. It adds to the relative calm around what will be his 12th crack at the Masters, where his best finish (fourth) was in 2015. McIlroy has tried multiple approaches in both mental and golf preparation for what is normally the first major of the season is. Perhaps the non-traditional set-up of these Masters at the end of the year, with no fans, and the focus on several other contenders, could change the dynamics enough to get the white whale of his hall of fame career down.
] Jon Rahm
Start Time: Fri, 2:08 PM Odds: 12/1
Rahm is a extraordinary talent who succeeded almost immediately at every stage of his golf career. He previously achieved number 1 in the world rankings in 2020 and comes in the Masters after Dustin Johnson for the current first place.
In 16 starts with the majors, he has four top-10 finishes, including two in each of the last two Masters. He's a favorite this year and should be all majors in the coming years, especially if he's able to string laps together as joyfully as his practice sessions this week. Rahm achieved the fourth and 16th holes, the last by hitting the ball over the surface of the water feature.
Start Time: Fri. 10:25 am Odds: 14/1
Johnson has comfortably topped the world rankings for months, winning 23 times on the PGA Tour, an astonishing number in these modern times. But given those results, having one major championship to his name is often described as a disappointment. He's back at the Masters this year as the world's No. 1, but he had to sit out two preparatory starts in October after testing positive for the coronavirus. Returning to the Houston Open the week leading up to the Masters, Johnson said his health was "good," but his game was "undetermined."
Start Time: Fri., 10:14 am Odds: 14/1
This was a default year for Thomas, and standard for him means multiple wins, a top five world rankings, consistent top 10 finishes and an argument for the Player of the Year Award. He's a deserved favorite, despite finishing outside the top 10 in his first four Masters starts, having all the tee-to-green statistics required to fight.
Tee Time: Fri. 10:14 am Odds: 20/1
The most stable player at the major men's championships arrives at the Masters 2020 after a year of injury problems. In August, Koepka withdrew from the Playoffs of the PGA Tour and the US Open in September, withdrawing from a major he had won twice that would have been a favorite this year.
Koepka & # 39; s injuries date back to last fall, when he initially underwent stem cell treatment for a partially ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee. That knee pain lingered this year, leading to the onset of a labrum injury as he struggled to shift his weight to his left side. He returned to the Tour in October to make two knee and hip pre-Masters starts that he said felt "a million times better" than he did at the start of the year. He already has an impressive 10 top-five finishes at major championships, but his second result at the 2019 Masters was his first show of battle in Augusta. It's perilous to drop Koepka from every major, but his frail health has cast doubt on the form he will be in to compete.
Start Time: Fri, 2:30 pm Odds: 35/1
Woods enjoyed an additional reign of seven months as the defending Masters champion, but he hasn't demonstrated much in 2020 to suggest he's ready to extend that title until April next year. He made eight official starts on the PGA Tour this calendar year, with the best result in January tied for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Since the PGA Tour resumed in June, his best finish finish was a draw for 39th at the PGA Championship. The underlying stats were also troubling: Woods's stats over the summer were some of the worst in his career, leading to a putter tinkering and an outright putter change.
More recently, and perhaps more alarmingly, his strokes have been scored on tee-to-green numbers. At the Zozo Championship, he was ranked 70th out of 77 players in statistics. The putter can be fickle and get better overnight, but Woods is the best iron and approach player of all time, and it's a particularly important metric at the Masters, where the last five winners were no worse than the third in achieving success. As he showed at the 2019 Masters, Woods only needs four days at Augusta where he manages to win better than anyone else in the field.
Start Time: Fri., 2:41 PM Odds: 60/1
Spieth may be the only person in the field who can approach Woods' feeling and knowledge about how to succeed at Augusta. He's got the most strokes per round in the history of the event, ahead of Ben Hogan and Woods. He has been so successful in his participation in the Masters and has so much history at the tournament for the past six years that people sometimes forget he only won it once.
Spieth, the 2015 Masters Champion, will have the magic to click again as he walks onto the grounds, as his form and his world rankings have been in a sustained fall. Since the end of 2018, it has dropped from No. 15 to No. 75. "There's a lot wrong," Spieth said during the U.S. Open in September. "I'm not quite sure. If I knew, I would fix it."
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