Quest for the green jacket

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from golfweek.com

Jordan Spieth, winner of last year’s Masters will look to repeat in 2016.

It’s almost spring and everyone knows baseball season isn’t too far away, but there is also a major sporting event that takes place every year in Augusta, Georgia. That is the first major golf tournament of the PGA season, The Masters.  This year The Masters will take place April 7th-10th.  Jordan Spieth will look to repeat against a star-studded field.

The Favorites

Jordan Spieth

You can’t talk Masters and leave the greatest golfer in the world out of the conversation. The 22 year old Dallas native finished at 18 under and won by four shots in last year’s tournament.  Spieth chalked up an absurd five wins on tour last year.  Those included wins at The Masters, The US Open, The John Deere Classic among others.  This season Spieth is coming off a horrible outing at the Northern Trust Open in which he didn’t even make the cut.  However, Spieth should have plenty of time to get back on track and be one of the many front runners for The Masters.  You can view highlights from his win at The Masters from last year here.

Bubba Watson 

It’s not an easy task winning a green jacket, but Bubba Watson has two.  Watson, currently ranked fourth in the world according to www.ogwr.com , won The Masters in 2012 and 2014.  In 2012, he needed a sudden death playoff to defeat Louis Oosthuizen.  In 2014, Watson edged out Jonas Blixt and Jordan Spieth.  Watson is off to a solid start in 2016 after a win at the Northern Trust Open.  Watson struggled at The Masters last year, but with two green jackets it’s hard to argue with his track record.  Here are some highlights of Bubba’s win at the 2016 Northern Trust Open.

Rory McIlroy

It’s been quite the career for the 26 year old from Northern Ireland, but there is one thing missing from Rory McIlroy’s trophy collection, a green jacket. At the 2011 Masters, Rory had a four shot lead with 18 holes to go and he collapsed by shooting an 80 in the final round.  Rory had a solid 2015 campaign, picking up wins at the Wells Fargo Championship and WGC-Cadillac Match Play.  Rory is a safe bet to contend at The Masters, but can he finally capture the elusive green jacket?  View highlights from his record-breaking 61 at Quail Hollow during his win at the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship here.

The Dark Horses

Kevin Kisner

Two years ago at this time no one knew who Kevin Kisner was, but now people are learning his name.  Kisner was ranked 236th at the end of the 2014 season.  Today he is ranked 18th in the world and is coming off a break-through 2015 campaign.  Kisner had seven top ten finishes including one win and four second place finishes.  However, Kisner didn’t make the cut at the Open Championship or the PGA Championship.  Kisner may be a big underdog, but he is definitely on the rise.  View highlights from Kisner’s first PGA tour win at the RSM Classic here.

Jimmy Walker

A guy who has been on a Ryder Cup team should be well known by all golf fans, but few know who Jimmy Walker is.  Walker was a member of that 2014 Ryder Cup team for the US and has been rock solid for the last two seasons on the PGA tour.  Walker notched two wins last year at the Valero Texas Open and the Sony Open.  Walker has also been in contention in most majors.  In 2014, he finished in the top ten in three majors.   Walker’s experience in those majors may give him an outside shot to win The Masters.  Here are highlights from Walker’s win at the Valero Texas Open.

Matt Kuchar

A sharp, seasoned veteran isn’t typically a dark horse, but Matt Kuchar is flying under-the-radar.  Kuchar has faltered after a tremendous 2013 season.  He has won nine events in his career and rarely misses a cut.  However, his last win on the PGA tour was at the RBC Heritage in 2014.  Kuchar has been in the mix at Augusta.  In 2012, he tied for third and in 2014 he tied for fifth.  However, last year at The Masters he tied for 46th.  All in all, Kuchar has lost some luster, but he is always a threat to win any event.  Check out some highlights from his last win on tour at the 2014 RBC Heritage here.

I asked Dan Fries, my dad and avid golf fan, who he likes in The Masters.  “I like Adam Scott to win it, but Brandt Snedeker is my dark horse to watch out for.”  Scott won The Masters in 2013 and is ranked ninth in the world.  Snedeker recently won at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and ranks 16th in the world.

Personally, I think Rory McIlroy edges out Jordan Spieth in an unforgettable Masters.  I really like Kevin Kisner to make some noise and get himself some national recognition.

The Masters is no doubt an underrated event that more people should watch.  It always finds a way to be entertaining.  The Masters will air live from Augusta National Golf Course on April 7th-10th on ESPN and CBS.