Couples, Furyk, Kuchar, Watson, Spieth, Rose, Fowler and More Could Win Masters

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Couples, Furyk, Kuchar, Watson, Spieth, Rose, Fowler and More Could Win Masters
David J. Phillip
Bubba Watson has a chance to win his second green jacket.

Let's face it, the headline space was not big enough to list the people who could win this year's wide-open Masters.

In recent history, the biggest comeback was six shots, in 1996, with Nick Faldo defeating Greg Norman. That was 18 years ago. While some may see that as ancient history, it still counts. So to figure out who could win this year, we have to look at anybody within six shots as a possibility to slip an arm inside a green jacket Sunday night. There are 17 players in that category.

With Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth tied at five-under par, a six-shot margin means you can go all the way back to Adam Scott and Kevin Streelman, who are tied at one-over par. In between the leaders and the one over pars, there are all manner and all ages of players, from those in their 50s to those in their 20s.

Anyone close to the top is a pulled iron shot at the fourth away from disaster. Remember Phil Mickelson who got discombobulated there a couple of years ago?

The second shot to the ninth is surprisingly perilous. Norman and Fred Couples both fell prey to that, not getting the ball deep enough into the green and having the ball roll back down the hill. Bogey or worse happens then.

Amen Corner has more stories than would fit in the "M" volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica. This week, on Saturday, Jonas Blixt hit into the right trees on the 11th and skanked a shot out that rolled into the pond left of the green.

The only person who gets a disaster pass on the 12th is apparently Couples. His ball has hung up on the bank twice since he has been a contender, but he has yet to make par or better there this week.

Blixt, after his foray into the pond at the 11th, found Rae's Creek at the 13th, and he was not alone. Thomas Bjorn also splashed at 13.

Anybody can find water. Anybody can chip in. Anybody can hole out. Anybody can three- or four-putt. So who can get lucky, have their drives land in safe places, have their second shots find the greens, eliminate three putts and win? One of these 17 will be happy Sunday evening and everyone else will be thinking shoulda-coulda-mighta thoughts.

 

Matt Slocum
Fred Couples, still competitive at 54.

In the 50-and-overs: Couples, generally regarded as the coolest guy in golf, and Miguel Angel Jiminez, generally regarded as a look-alike to the "Most Interesting Man in the World."

Nobody has won a major over the age of 50 except Champions Tour majors. Not saying they can't, but they would be the first. If Jimenez wins, everybody is going to start doing his goofy warm-up routine. If you think everybody over the age of 50 isn't pulling for these two, you are crazy. Couples already knows what it takes to win a major, but he will have to go back 22 years to remember.

In the 40-and-overs: John Senden, who just won the Valspar Championship; Jim Furyk, whose last victory was the $10 million FedEx Cup and Tour Championship; Thomas Bjorn, who won last December in Africa; and Lee Westwood, who gave up his primary residence in Europe to try to win a major championship.

Jim Furyk already won what is maybe the most demanding major, the U.S. Open. He knows how hard this is.        

In the 30-and-overs: This is the ripest category because it is often said that golfers peak in their 30s, which no one mentions is usually a euphemism for saying they will be lucky to win in their 40s.

This group doesn't have the over-40 issues yet and includes Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Kevin Stadler, Kevin Streelman and Ian Poulter. They are all still limber-backed and capable. Watson, Rose and Scott are the most likely because they already know what it takes to win a major.

David J. Phillip
Hopefully the spotlight doesn't affect Jordan Spieth as he tries to become youngest Masters winner.

In the 20-and-overs: This is a fascinating group. It's comprised of Jordan Spieth (tied with Watson for the lead), Gary Woodland, Blixt (Swede who went to Florida State) and Rickie Fowler.

It's unusual for someone in his 20s to play this well at the Masters, and for these four to be contending, it speaks volumes about the skill and fearlessness of younger players in general. This group is untested in major chases, but that doesn't mean these golfers can't or won't catch fire on the back nine and come through.

 

The real problem in trying to pick a winner is nobody in this group of 17 is afraid of anybody else. There is no Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer in the field. Nobody gets two shots on the first tee because of their reputation.

Everybody, with the possible exception of Couples and Jimenez, can look in the mirror and say, "Hey I can beat that guy. In fact, I did beat him when I won such and such a tournament." Or, "Hey, I beat them all two weeks ago." Even Couples and Jimenez have played better than 80 of those who started the tournament on Thursday, so that counts for something.

If Spieth wins, he will eclipse Woods for the next 12 months. He will have his own Spieth-dom and more female phone numbers than Adam Scott, which has to be a lot.  

If Watson wins, he'll probably buy another classic car, and for sure he'll make all the talk shows.

If Blixt wins, he will have a whale logo instead of a shark logo. He'll get a national holiday in Sweden. Annika Sorenstam will give him her phone number for advice.

If Jimenez wins, he'll buy another expensive car and cartons of Cuban cigars. He'll have a new workout video.

If Westwood wins, he will cry. It's a certainty. He's a tough guy, but he's had so many close calls that winning the big one would be a relief.

If Furyk wins, he'll buy the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If Bjorn wins, he can tell his children that he did it so they would be able to see him in his "prime."  

If Rose wins, he will probably go on to win the Open Championship and the PGA, although not necessarily this year.

If Fowler wins, he will paint the town orange and thank Butch Harmon, teacher of major champs.

Woodland, ditto, except for the orange.  

Matt Slocum
Adam Scott is trying to defend his Masters championship.

If Stadler wins, he and his dad can both wear the same kind of jacket at the champions dinners.

If Streelman wins, he will say forget Vision 54, I just shot 54. Or at least it feels like 54.

If Senden wins, he'll say thank you, Valspar. I'm thinking of painting my house green.

If Poulter wins, all his future tartan outfits will have Masters green—with matching shoes and sunglasses.

If Scott wins, he will start his own modeling agency called Green Jacket, Inc. (Have you see his web site?)

If Couples wins, he has said he'll retire from golf, but we know that's not true. He won't retire for at least one more season so that he can be introduced as the current Masters champ for 12 months. Maybe this time he'll enjoy it more.  

 

Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.

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