With Tiger Woods off his game, the field at this year's Masters is wide open.
Everyone knows that when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson step onto the first tee at Augusta National, they become favorites to take home the green jacket.
But with neither of them playing championship-caliber golf so far this season, it’s time to look beyond the usual suspects.
Here are five golfers who might be celebrating come Sunday evening.
Pop quiz: Who leads the PGA Tour in wins, money earned and FedEx Cup Points this season?
It’s Mark Wilson.
With two wins already this season, Wilson has established himself as a threat to win every time he tees it up. His game isn’t flashy, but his consistency and ability to play under pressure—he won this year’s Phoenix Open in a playoff—are keys to success at Augusta.
Matt Kuchar had an excellent 2010 season.
After struggling for more than a decade with his game, Kuchar won the 2010 scoring and money titles and earned his first Ryder Cup spot.
However, 2011 is shaping up to be even better.
He leads the tour in top-10 finishes and ranks near the top in scoring average, greens in regulation and putting average.
Look for him to be near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
Nick Watney is a golfer on the brink.
Not yet a household name, Watney seems to be in contention every week. He has yet to finish outside the top 15 this year, and his win earlier this month at the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship signals that he is ready to take the next step.
His game is peaking at the right time, and with his seventh-place finish in last year’s Masters, the rest of the field could be looking up at Watney this year.
With Mahan, the question isn’t if, but when.
Mahan would be on my short list of the best players to have never won a major. That could change this year at The Masters. His game is seemingly without weakness, and his toughness under pressure makes him a great pick to win this year.
He has yet to put it all together at a major, but when he does, watch out.
Have you seen this guy hit a golf ball?
Like Tiger Woods, Johnson has the ability to make mincemeat out of Augusta’s par-fives, which gives him a huge advantage over the rest of the field. If he can keep his ball out of trouble and make some putts, there are few golfers with the game to match him.
His biggest advantage this year, however? Redemption. After his heartbreaking finish to last year’s PGA Championship, there is no doubt that Johnson has a chip on his shoulder.
That may make him the most dangerous player in the tournament.
1. Steve Stricker
2. Jhonattan Vegas
3. Spencer Levin
4. Bubba Watson
5. Rickie Fowler