The 2013 U.S. Masters is just days away now, with the expectancy and tension surrounding one of golf's biggest events growing with every passing day.
The top golfers in the world will all come to Augusta National looking to etch their name in history and put on the historic green jacket. Yet as we know all too well from sports, there can only be one man victorious at the end of the iconic competition.
Where will the world's top golfers end up after the week's action at Augusta?
Read on and find out.
Tiger Woods, United States
Tiger Woods will come into the Masters this week as the firm favorite to put on another green jacket. Which, given the form he's shown so far in 2013, is completely understandable for the American.
Woods has already won three tournaments in 2013, his worst round of the year so far is 74 (just two over par) and he's shown better form heading into the Masters this year than he has in any other Masters before—many of which he ended up winning.
Arguably the greatest golfer ever, Woods has shown a tendency recently to start slow at Augusta, and that could well cost him this year. If he doesn't start in good form, expect the rest of the field to gain in confidence and establish enough of a lead that not even Woods will be able to reel in.
I like him to come close, but it's just all too perfect for Woods to win it all this year. I just can't see him getting over the mental barrier in this one.
Predicted finish: Top five
Justin Rose, South Africa
When it comes to form, there is arguably no hotter golfer going around at the moment than Justin Rose. And if he continues his stellar 2013 this week at Augusta, then we could well be in for some very special shot-making indeed from the South African.
Between his European and PGA Tour stroke play starts, Rose has finished outside of the top 10 only once and ranks No. 1 in scoring average this year.
What's more, Rose has proved himself on some of the more difficult courses this year, and should be well-equipped to handle whatever Augusta throws at him.
The biggest question surrounding Rose is his driving, and for those inaccuracies, it's hard to see him going all the way and winning it this year. He is, however, in great form, and should still chalk up a very strong weekend that sees him relatively high on the leaderboard.
Predicted finish: Top 15
Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland
It's been a tumultuous year so far for McIlroy, but after a strong performance at the Valero Texas Open, you get the feeling he's back on the right track.
The former World No. 1 (now No. 2 to Woods) is one of the best ball-strikers on his day and has the ability to consistently chalk up incredibly low numbers on the course—something he'll be looking to replicate again when he takes the field this week.
He showed in 2011 that he can win at Augusta (if the event was only 63-holes long), but whilst he might have those skills, he doesn't appear to have the mental toughness that he had at times last year and simply isn't in a good place right now.
Coming into arguably the biggest tournament of the year, that's not a good thing at all, and with some bad memories already existent on the course, McIlroy won't produce his best golf this week at all.
Predicted finish: Outside the top 20
Phil Mickelson, United States
Every time it gets to the Masters, Phil 'Lefty' Mickelson comes into play as a genuine contender for the green jacket—and rightly so. The guy is a proven performer at Augusta, and with a strong 2013 behind him, he'll likely be a big threat again this year.
Mickelson has made seven out of eight cuts so far this year, finished third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and won the Waste Management Phoenix Open. What's more, in the recent Shell Houston Open (his usual pre-Masters warm-up), he finished a solid 16th and showed some incredible form that will likely appear again during the week.
Lefty has one of the best track records at Augusta (winning a third of his previous nine starts and finishing in the top 10 four other times) and will be a key player to watch this week.
Tiger's a big threat, but Mickelson's my pick to win it.
Predicted finish: Winner
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