The 2013 Masters is Tiger Woods' to lose. This certainly doesn't mean he won't lose it, or that the fickle golf gods won't inflict him with a bad bounce here or there, but it does mean he is the unquestioned favorite.
It also doesn't mean that he won't face some worthy competition.
Below, I'll break down Tiger's chances, as well as those of the two men who figure to be his stiffest competition.
No. 1: Tiger Woods
There really isn't a way to look at this logically and say that Woods does not have the best chance of walking away with the green jacket this year.
The guy has won the last two tournaments he's entered, and he is thriving in all the key areas needed for success at Augusta.
He is 32nd in driving distance and first in strokes gained-putting. He is also dialed in with his wedges and irons.
What is also important to note is that Tiger has gotten back to crushing the par fives. In his last two tournaments, Tiger is a combined 23-under on the par fives.
Scoring on the par fives is always vital to Tiger's success at Augusta.
No. 2: Justin Rose
Justin Rose hasn't won a major, but he's been knocking on the door and this very well could be the tournament where he breaks through.
Rose has been in marvelous form as of late. His last time out, he came in second at Bay Hill, and in his two tournaments leading up to that he finished in fourth and eighth.
Rose has always been a tremendous ball striker, but what is really fueling his strong recent form is improved putting as some tweaks have helped his confidence on the greens.
He's finished with a positive number in strokes gained-putting in two of his last three events, and he looked really solid at Bay Hill with .273 strokes gained-putting.
This will serve Rose well in this tournament, and he's already looked good at Augusta by coming in eighth last year and 11th the year previous.
No. 3: Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson almost always manages to pull out his best performances at Augusta. It's where he's won three of his four majors, and he is typically in contention.
He was third here last year, and his last green jacket came in 2010.
Phil has been in solid form this year and helping him with the cause will be, as Farrell Evans of ESPN points out, a new hybrid driver/3-wood designed to help his accuracy off the tee.
Phil has been up and down with his putter this year, and he has been tweaking with his grip, but he was solid on the greens in his last tournament. If he can putt well this week, he has an excellent chance to walk away with the win.
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