The Masters 2013: X-Factors for Top Contenders in Final Round

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVApril 14, 2013

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 13:  Brandt Snedeker of the United States waves to the crowd on the 18th green during the third round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 13, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Heading into the final round of the 2013 Masters, there is no shortage of players in the mix to don the green jacket at the end of the day. Whoever prevails from the pack for victory will have to excel at his X-factor.

There is nothing quite like Augusta National on a Masters Sunday. Everybody's nerves will be at an all-time high—unless you're Jason Dufner, I don't think he's ever had nerves—and the stakes are huge. 

With a handful of players still very much in contention for the green jacket, it's impossible to include every player who is capable of winning Sunday. Don't count out golfers like Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Lee Westwood and others who are in the hunt.

Let's jump in and look at the X-factor for each player within two strokes of the leaders heading into Sunday's final round.


Brandt Snedeker (-7): Keep Riding Consistent Year

The 2013 campaign has been kind to Brandt Snedeker, as he's already posted a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has two runner-up finishes. But putting on a green jacket Sunday would be icing on the cake. 

Snedeker is no stranger to success at the Masters and major tournaments. He's made quite a name for himself in big tournaments in the last year or two, and shown that he is one of the most consistent golfers out there right now. 

At 32 years old and without a major victory, there is no doubt that the Tennessean is feeling the heat as the co-leader. All he needs to do is simply put it out of his mind that today is the final round, and he'll post a round worthy of victory.


Angel Cabrera (-7): Stay in the Moment

Take everything I just said about Snedeker and reverse it. That's what Angel Cabrera is facing right now.

Cabrera has had his share of major success—most recently winning the green jacket in 2009. But since then, he's been no more than a blip on the radar and currently sits at 269th in the world golf rankings

All that matters right now for Cabrera, though, is that he's ahead of those 268 players right now. If Cabrera can stay in the moment, continue to use his powerful drives to his advantage and dominate the greens, he'll be in the running all round.


Adam Scott (-6): Avoid the "C" Word and Hit Putts

Unfortunately for Adam Scott, no one has forgotten what happened at the 2012 Open Championship. His choke job there cost him his first major victory to veteran Ernie Els. 

Despite his inability to close out tournaments, Scott has earned a name for himself as one of the best golfers in the world. He's finished in the top three at three of the four majors and is seventh in the world golf rankings. 

Scott has been able to do that with his excellence on the greens. Once he gets his ball on the green, Scott is deadly with that belly putter and can rack up birdies in a heartbeat. With good hole locations Sunday, he could run away with this one if he just forgets about his recent troubles.


Marc Leishman (-5): Go Back to Thursday

If it weren't for a six-under round of 66 on Thursday, much of the sports world wouldn't recognize the name Marc Leishman. But a stellar opening performance followed by a 73 and 72 has the 29-year-old as one of three Australians in contention for the green jacket. 

In that opening round, Leishman was able to pull away with four straight birdies on 13, 14, 15 and 16. This is typically where we see the contenders pull away from the pretenders on the final round.

Leishman won't be facing the same hole locations on these holes Sunday, but he needs to do more of what he was able to do Thursday. If he can pick up a few birdies during that stretch, he could be walking to the 18th hole with a lead.


Jason Day (-5): Continue to be Gutsy

When Jason Day is playing his best at Augusta National, he's taking aim at the flagstick and not backing down. It was this mentality that catapulted him to the lead heading into Saturday. 

Day must keep his focus on how to post the best possible score on the current hole. He can't look forward or back, or he's in danger of playing conservative or playing scared.

If he wants to win, Day will keep his gutsy play going and attack the flagstick. If he doesn't do so, he stands no chance against a field of hungry golfers searching for the green jacket.


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