2014 Masters Predictions: What to Expect from Golf's Biggest Names

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2014 Masters Predictions: What to Expect from Golf's Biggest Names
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The 2014 Masters finally begins on Thursday, and while Tiger Woods may not be playing in this year's tournament, there are a number of other big names that will be looking to take home the green jacket.

Last year, it was Adam Scott that was able to take home his first-ever major title. A number of other golfers will be looking to grab their first major win in Augusta, Ga., but they'll have to get through some of the most famous players in golf in order to do so.

With the first major of the season set to begin, let's take a look at some predictions for a few of the biggest stars playing in Augusta this weekend.

 

Bubba Watson

After winning the Masters in 2012, Bubba Watson will be coming into this year's tournament looking to win his second career major, but it won't be easy.

Watson got off to a very promising start this season, finishing in the top 10 of five of his eight tournaments and winning his first PGA Tour tournament since the 2012 Masters at the Northern Trust Open.

However, despite entering the Arnold Palmer Invitational on a hot streak, he withdrew from the tournament after posting a first-round score of 83.

Such a rough round doesn't bode well for the 35-year-old heading into the Masters, but he has proven people wrong before. He has looked good for the most part up to this point in the season, so I expect him to at least finish in the top 20, hanging around the top of the leaderboard for the first couple of days.

Prediction: 14th

 

Jordan Spieth

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Jordan Spieth became a star just a couple weeks before his 20th birthday back in 2013, winning the John Deere Classic. Now, the defending Rookie of the Year will be playing in his first-ever Masters, and it's safe to say that he's pretty excited.

Spieth described how he feels to be playing in Augusta, according to Garrett Johnston from DallasNews.com:

This is heaven on earth to us, and to me specifically. This is a tournament I’ve grown up watching and always dreamt and still continue to dream of winning some day. Whether that’s a few days from now or years in the future, hopefully one day I can have that green jacket, but this is just an incredible atmosphere.

This season, Spieth has picked up four top-10 finishes in 11 events so far, but he has also missed the cut twice at the Shell Houston Open and Sony Open. While he was able to participate in three of the four majors last year, Spieth wasn't able to step up, missing the cut in two and finishing tied for 44th at the Open Championship.

If Spieth wants to have a shot to win at the Masters this year, he's going to need to work on making the easy putts. According to PGATour.com, he's made only 95.12 percent of his putts from within five feet, ranking 140th on the tour.

Nerves will probably be tough for Spieth to overcome, so don't expect him to make too much noise at this year's Masters. However, given what we've seen so far, it looks like the future is very bright for the 20-year-old from Dallas.

Prediction: 25th

 

Phil Mickelson

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At 43 years old, Phil Mickelson continues to have a very successful career, as he's searching for a fourth green jacket and sixth major championship.

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Lefty has had plenty of success in Augusta, winning the tournament in 2004, 2006 and 2010. In 2012, he came close to winning again, finishing tied for third, but came back in 2013 and struggled, finishing outside the top 50.

Mickelson admitted to being nervous for this tournament, according to Kyle Porter from CBS Sports, but he hopes that his previous success will help him.

"I'm certainly nervous, because this is a week that I care about the most," said Mickelson. "This is the most special tournament, and I have to rely on kind of past performances and past successes and past memories to build that confidence."

The big question will be how effective Mickelson will be after pulling an oblique muscle and withdrawing from the Valero Texas Open. The injury didn't seem to bother him too much at the Shell Houston Open, finishing in 12th, but it will definitely be something to keep an eye on.

Although he hasn't posted a top-10 finish in nine events so far this season, Mickelson seems ready to take over with Tiger absent from the field, so I expect him to finish in the top 10.

Prediction: 4th

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