Without Tiger Woods in the field, the 2014 Masters features a tightly packed group of golfers with the lowest odds to win.
According to VegasInsider.com, the five favorites to take the green jacket have odds between 10-1 and 15-1. Defending champion Adam Scott and two-time major champ Rory McIlroy share the lowest odds at 10-1. Actually, just take a look at the odds on every golfer at 75-1 or lower.
|Field (Any Other Golfer)||15/1|
When: Thursday, April 10 through Sunday, April 13
Where: Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Field: View the full field at PGA.com.
Ranking the Favorites
Note: This ranking does not consider odds. It only reflects the chances of winning between the golfer's with the five lowest odds.
No. 5: Dustin Johnson
With a booming drive and wonderful ball striking, Dustin Johnson has the game to win at Augusta. You won't find me picking Johnson to win a major, however, until he proves he can do so.
Johnson has been close to tasting major victory on several occasions only to implode in spectacular and/or unique fashion. For instance, he took a three-shot lead into the final round of the U.S. Open in 2010, and he couldn't break 80 in the final round.
His failures have not sapped his enthusiasm:
Going to be a big week ahead!!! #Masters— Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) April 6, 2014
His excitement certainly doesn't stem from his latest performance. Johnson fired an 80 in the first round of the Houston Open last week and promptly withdrew with no reason given. GolfChannel's Will Gray offers quality perspective on what this means:
You don't need to win to have Masters momentum, but you def don't want to shoot a 92. Dustin Johnson currently +9 thru 7 in Houston...yeesh.— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) April 3, 2014
Prior to that, Johnson had been enjoying a magnificent season. He already has a victory on the season, and he had posted a second and fourth in his two stroke-play PGA events heading into the Houston Open.
Of course, Johnson had roughly a month off between starts with the Houston Open, so his only current form is the terrible form he showed in Houston.
Combine that with his track record at majors, and it's best not to consider Johnson a potential Masters champ for 2014.
No. 4: Jason Day
You don't have to listen hard to hear Jason Day knocking on the door of a major victory. The Australian almost pulled off the feat at last year's Masters, as he enjoyed a late lead on Sunday.
Day has been in tremendous form this season. He's played in five full PGA events and has two wins, a second and a ninth out of those five starts. There is a little concerning fact about his recent form, however.
Breaking Sports News sums up his situation well:
Jason Day goes into the Masters coming off a win _ 6 weeks ago http://t.co/9M4lvEyTak— Breaking Sports News (@BSNSportsNews) April 7, 2014
Day injured his thumb while winning the WGC Match Play Championship in his last event.
He hasn't played competitively since, but says he is ready to go. Brian Wacker of PGATour.com passed along Day's update on his injured thumb, "Everything has progressed nicely." It was also noted that Day will be playing with his thumb taped but merely for precautionary reasons.
You can view Day's comments in the video below:
Day has been practicing, and according to Wacker, has been practicing at Augusta since last Wednesday, so it's not like he will be touching his sticks for the first time when he tees off on Thursday. Still, he will have to adjust to tournament conditions again.
This is too much for him to overcome in order to capture his first major.
No. 3: Rory McIlroy
This season is going far better than last for Rory McIlroy. The former World No. 1 has played six PGA events this season. He hasn't finished lower than 25th and he has three finishes in the top 10.
McIlroy played last week in the Houston Open and surged to finish tied for seventh. Eye on Golf caught the moment:
Understandably, McIlroy is confident after his final round:
The problem with McIlroy is that there is no reason to think he will string four solid rounds together. In each of his last four PGA events, McIlroy has had one round where he stumbled to a 74 or worse.
On top of that, in each of his last three Masters, he has posted a round of 77 or higher. That includes his epic collapse in 2011 when he blew a four-stroke, 54-hole lead by firing an 80 on the final day.
At some point, McIlroy is going to break this string. His game has rounded into form and it's just a matter of time before he strings four quality rounds together. It's also just a matter of time before he wins the Masters. He is far too talented not to.
It would be foolish to count him out of accomplishing both feats at Augusta this week, but it would also be foolish to expect him to do it.
No. 2: Phil Mickelson
On the merit of current form, Phil Mickelson is an absolutely terrible pick to win the Masters. Mickelson has played in nine PGA events this year, and he doesn't have a single finish inside the top 10.
It was also just two weeks ago when he pulled out of the Texas Open with a pulled abdominal muscle. This marks the first time since 2010 that Mickelson will arrive at the masters without a PGA victory on the season.
On top of that, in last year's Masters, Mickelson finished 54th and didn't break 70 in any round.
Which golfer will finish the highest?
Who cares about all of that, however, this is Phil Mickelson we are talking about. Lefty has always been streaky. There is no way to tell how long a cold streak will persist or how long a hot streak will last when it comes to the three-time Masters winner.
Mickelson finished well off the pace here last year, but that is just one of three times since 1998 that he hasn't finished in the top 10 at Augusta. On top of that, even numbered years have been working out great for him at the Masters.
Since 2000, he hasn't finished outside of the top five in an even numbered year and all three of his wins came on an even digit. That happens to include the 2010 season when he had yet to win an event for the year.
This is a bit of a loose connection to predict success for Mickelson this year, but it's just icing on the cake for a golfer that almost always manages to excel at Augusta.
No. 1: Adam Scott
Defending champion Adam Scott has not been setting the tour on fire this season, but he's been rock solid.
Since the beginning of 2014, Scott has played in five PGA events. His lowest finish in that span is a 25th. He also has three top-10 finishes.
Scott made his last start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and carded a third-place finish. It wasn't all good news from that tournament, however.
Scott blew a final-round lead by firing a 76, and he saw his round total increase by at least four strokes for each round of the tournament.
Given Scott's prolonged excellence over the last year, his stumble to the ending of his last tournament is not overly concerning. After all, as the below tweet from ESPN's Justin Ray highlights, Scott knows how to get himself ready for the majors:
Scott will be in contention on Sunday once again. If he can finish out his round by putting like he did in the above video from the closing stretch of last year's tournament, he will defend his title.