Before Phil Mickelson's win at the Shell Houston Open last week, I didn't feel he was the favorite to win the 2011 Masters Tournament. But with a 20-under-par performance that saw him playing up to his 2010 Masters standards, he's no longer a question mark.
In fact, how can you bet against him?
Lefty seems to be as confident in his game as he's ever been. And if he can maintain his focus, shot-visualization techniques and experience at Augusta National, he'll walk away from this weekend with a fourth green jacket.
The Best of the Rest
Tiger Woods: He wants us to think his swing is almost there, but it isn't. Nevertheless, this is Tiger and this is Augusta. Anything can happen. If he gets himself into the hunt on Sunday, I like his chances. Of course, that's a big if.
Anthony Kim: After a scintillating back nine on Sunday last year for a third-place finish, AK knows what it takes to get the job done. Don't forget his 11 birdies in a round back in '09. He's a streaky player who is perpetually confident in his abilities and if he's dialed in, look out.
Dustin Johnson: DJ seems to have the game for Augusta National, but the results haven't shown it so far. He hasn't finished better than 30th. Sure, he challenged at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship last year, but will he be able to duplicate that here? He's a popular pick, primarily because of how far he hits the ball, but I don't see him winning.
Bubba Watson: Another long-hitter who has crazy control of his ball flight, and that bodes well for his chances here. I'm just not sure Bubba's game is ready for four rounds of pressure cooking at Augusta. Still, it will be fun to watch and his name will be on the leaderboard—for a while.
Lee Westwood: After a second-place finish last year, Westwood seems primed to make another run in 2011. He's battle tested and he shows up for majors. Count him in. Westwood will be in the mix come Sunday afternoon.
Hunter Mahan: He hasn't won a tournament this year, but his name seems to be on every leaderboard, week after week. Mahan is a dark horse to win this thing and if the putts start falling early, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he did.
Don't Forget About...
Nick Watney: The PGA Tour's scoring average leader is third in putts per round and can hold his own in the driving distance conversation as well. Interesting. Very interesting.
K.J. Choi: Always seems to play well here. Why would this year be any different?
Graeme McDowell: The defending U.S. Open champ is playing well right now. There you go.
Ian Poulter: He might just be cocky enough to pull it off. Or not.
Luke Donald: Will need to rely heavily on his short game. Yeah, that might work. Ask Zach Johnson.