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Golf Barometer: A Masters 10-Pack

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

It's Masters week, so that's where our focus is. Time for a 10-pack of selections.


Phil Mickelson:
OK, so he's the favorite - and he should be. Defending champion, and last week's champion, for starters. And keep in mind the Masters is a tournament that caters to a specific kind of player: power off the tree, creativity around the greens, great putting. That's Mickelson in a nutshell. He's already got those pretty three green jackets, in addition to 13 Top 10s and nine Top 5s here over his last 16 visits.

Hunter Mahan:
He's already bagged five Top-10s this year, including a T8 at Houston last week. He's go the type of power game that works here, and he's finished T8 and T10 at the Masters the last two seasons. We've been waiting for Mahan to take that last baby step into the inner circle of elite players; a win this week would get him there. If I were picking second in a Masters draft and Lefty were gone, I'd take Mahan.

Ian Poulter:
The media flap isn't going to bother him at all - actually, it's going to inspire Poulter. It will psyche him up, get his juices flowing. We know Poulter has the guts of a burglar on the greens - we're seen it at the Ryder Cup, and we've seen it at the Accenture Match Play. He's been on the cusp of serious contention at Augusta in recent years (T10, T20, T25, T13); this year, the breakthrough comes.

Nick Watney:
His first major is coming soon, it's just a matter of time. He's getting the hang of Augusta - seventh, 19th and 11th the last three years - and he fits the profile we're looking for (long hitter, second in putting, fourth in scrambling).

Matt Kuchar:
He's got the confidence and the putting stroke that gets you in the mix here, and he was a respectable T25 in his first return visit in some time last season. Matt Kuchar, elite player? It's time to accept it; the post-hype sleeper bloomed into a superstar.


Tiger Woods:
He's shown us maybe 2-3 rounds all year that had any magic to them. He looks like a man not sure of his swing, and that's logical given that he's in the process of rebuilding it with Sean Foley right now. Tiger's will to win and excellent short game go a long way, but the field isn't going to run out of his way as it would in the past. Tiger is a strong bet to make the cut, but I see him somewhere outside the Top 10.

Martin Kaymer:
Sure, he's the best player in the world right now, but that doesn't mean he's figured out Magnolia Lane. Kaymer has three starts here and has never made the cut. We need a show of good faith first.

Zach Johnson:
Obviously he's won here before, but the Masters is made for the home run hitters, not the tablesetters. And Johnson's game has been ordinary since he returned from his early-season physical ailments - he's yet to cash a check more than $80K in 2011. I wouldn't be surprised if he won another major someday, but I'd bet on the U.S. Open or the PGA for him, not the Masters.

Steve Marino:
He's oh-so-close to a win, and he did have a T14 in his Masters debut last season, so that's all good. But Marino's putter has been the shakiest club in his bag this season, especially when contention comes calling, and that's not going to be pretty if he's in a pressure situation Saturday or Sunday. I'm a Marino fan, but I don't see anything special from him this week.

Jeff Overton:
It looked like he turned a corner at the Honda Classic, but since then he's fired six rounds of 73 or better. That's not the way you want to enter the first major of the year. Overton also fights a local knowledge battle, as he's making his Masters debut. Look for a trunk slam on Friday.