Masters Predictions 2013: Final Projections for Field's Notable Names

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Masters Predictions 2013: Final Projections for Field's Notable Names
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I want to get some final Masters predictions in before the tournament starts to make sure everyone has ample opportunity tell me how stupid I am when they are invariably wrong. 

After all, predicting golf is hard, but I've been in up to my head in analysis for this Masters, and I'm feeling good about the following projections for the game's top stars. 

 

Tiger Woods

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All eyes will be firmly planted on Tiger Woods as he goes for his fifth green jacket, and his first since 2005. He is in great form to do just that. 

Tiger leads the Tour in strokes gained-putting, his distance control is on point and he is striking the ball well. He has been struggling a bit with his driving accuracy, and if he fails here, that will likely be the cause. However, Augusta does not put a premium on driving accuracy.

It is nearly impossible to envision Woods, who has won his last two tournaments, not being in contention on Sunday, and I see him winning.

Prediction: 1st Place at 14-Under

We'll see how the weather holds up at Augusta, and obviously some unfriendly conditions would keep scores from getting as low as I just predicted, but the course is in immaculate shape and looks ready for players to go low. 

I don't see Woods storming out of the gates. Oftentimes he takes the lead with a strong second and third round, and then plays a solid final round to hold the lead. That is how I see this one playing out. 

 

Rory McIlroy

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After plenty of struggles to start his year, Rory McIlroy appears to have turned the corner with a nice second-place finish last week at the Texas Open. 

In that tournament, Rory started to regain control off the tee and with his irons. This is going to be especially vital at Augusta, where it is important to not just hit the green, but put it in the right spot on the green. 

Rory certainly has the game to dominate at Augusta, but he has yet to do it. His highest finish came after his brutal back-nine, final-round collapse in 2011 when he wound up in 15th. 

Prediction: 44th Place at 2-Over

Rory has developed a nasty habit of starting out strong and limping to the finish at Augusta, and he is ripe to repeat that this year. 

He will use the confidence gained last week to get off to a strong start. However, faced with the demons he's created on this course, while also still trying to find his consistency, he will once again limp to the finish. 

 

Phil Mickelson

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Phil Mickelson is one of the all-time toughest golfers to predict. He can look unbeatable one round and completely lost the next. That said, he typically manages to be at, or near, his best at Augusta. 

The course is well suited to his game, which is why three of his four majors have come at Augusta. 

One of the big keys with Phil is how he is putting, and he has been up and down this year, which has led to him tweaking with his grip. He looked good on the greens in his last tournament, and I imagine he will be solid this week. 

Also, as Farrell Evans of ESPN informs us, Lefty will be debuting the "Phrankenwood" which is a hybrid driver/3-wood designed to help his accuracy off the tee without sacrificing his distance. 

All of this leads to a solid tournament for Phil. 

Prediction: 2nd Place at 12-Under

Phil will be going toe-to-toe with Tiger in an epic Masters. However, much like last year when he finished third, I see a couple of mistakes dooming him. 

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