2011 Masters Results: Who Is the Player of the Year Favorite?

Immer Chriswell@@immerrangeCorrespondent IApril 11, 2011

2011 Masters Results: Who Is the Player of the Year Favorite?

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    After the close of a great 2011 Masters, Charl Schwartzel came out on top. Finishing with a flurry of birdies, Schwartzel took home a two-stroke victory over Aussies Jason Day and Adam Scott.

    Only four shots back was Tiger Woods, who shot a final round 67 to come in fourth place for the second straight year.

    In the past four days, we found out a lot about the world's top golfers. And through everything we saw, there are many people who could be the Player of the Year.

    However, one still stands alone. Here are some of the names that could be there, and the one that is the leading candidate.

Sergio Garcia

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    Probably the least likely to appear on this list, Garcia had everything going yesterday until his game imploded on the back nine. In the end, it cost Garcia a shot at his first major. 

    But this week showed that Sergio is definitely on his way up.

    What happened today was not as relevant, because Sergio definitely lost a lot of purpose after he went from eight under to one within a short time span.

    If you give Sergio Garcia the chance to come back, he could be on of the best in the game. If he learns how to putt.

Adam Scott

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    Another player whose game is in recovery, Adam Scott very nearly had a playoff for his first major championship.

    Unfortunately, Scott didn't pour enough on to match Schwartel's effort, but still what Scott did is prove he can still play golf at a high level.

    With his new putter, Adam Scott seems refreshed and ready to go this year.

Matt Kuchar

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    After climbing the board, Kuchar failed like Sergio to keep in the tournament. Two three over par rounds prevented Kuchar from ever remaining relevant, despite a 68 and a 69.

    Other than the Masters, Kuchar is producing a lot of the results he did all last year: consistent top finishes. For those of you who don't know, Kuchar missed the cut at Augusta last year. So this week's T27 is definitely an improvement.

Phil Mickelson

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    Despite not being the winner as many picked, Phil is still one of the top candidates for the player of the year for 2011. The biggest issues lie within his commitment.

    I'm not saying he does not try, or isn't committed to golf. It's that he has other obligations which are inarguably more important than golf.

    Even with less practice, Phil still brought the field down before the Masters. Sure, he didn't at Augusta National, but it is tough to defend a title.

Rory McIlroy

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    If Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney and Rory McIlroy got together and talked about what they learned about the fourth round of a major, there would be a lot of experience at that table.

    Unfortunately for McIlroy, he joins the list of people who "choked," couldn't finish, failed to close it out.

    A fourth-round 80 pushed McIlroy from the top of the pack back to T15, a big move considering only 43 players were around for the weekend.

    Despite all of the struggles, McIlroy still is one of the best. He didn't convert in his first major lead, but not everyone can be like Tiger. If Rory can keep up his work ethic, there's no doubt he will wear a green jacket.

Charl Schwartzel

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    It's not a bandwagon thing. Schwartzel was good before Augusta. In fact, he is ranked fifth in the standings for the Race to Dubai.

    Although we don't get to see much of him, we saw plenty of good golf from Schwartzel, and it could very well translate into some more trophies.

Lee Westwood

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    Even though he is ranked second in the world, Westwood is far from an easy pick for this list.

    No real large successes have come of his game this year, and it appears as he may have found something old at Augusta, like many people do (Angel Cabrera).

    Hopefully Westwood figures out his game soon, because golf will be boring without more people on top.

Martin Kaymer

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    Without a doubt, Martin Kaymer could be the best player of the 2011 season. However, a true top player would not miss the cut at Augusta.

    I'm not saying it's an end-all for Kaymer to not have succeeded, but it certainly needs to be a turning point in someone's game.

Tiger Woods

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    Despite not too many overly impressing performances, Tiger proved that he is a force to be reckoned with.

    Many will point out Tiger did the same thing last year when he finished behind Phil Mickelson. However, this week was not a mess that Tiger pulled something out of. It was actually a decent tournament for Tiger, all things considered.

    Despite the fact he fell short, everything was there for his taking. He just didn't make enough putts.

    Is there a timetable for Tiger's success? No, this isn't any normal injury. 

    Are there pools for Tiger's success? Most definitely.

    Is Tiger a Player of the Year Candidate? Every year.

Player of the Year Leader to Date: Luke Donald

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    That's right. To date, no one has looked better for this season than Luke Donald. 

    The insanity of his Accenture run, then his T6 finish at Doral, all the way to his T10 at the Honda Classic, Donald was excellent. Today he posted yet another great finish, at T4 for the tournament alongside Tiger.

    Try to find a golfer who for four out of five weeks has played as well as Luke Donald.

    A few months ago I predicted major champions. I stand by my choice of Luke Donald as the British Open Champion. His ball flight is clearly suited for both America and Europe. Distance is not a big deal in Europe, either with all the wind.

    There were a lot of great choices for Player of the Year, but as of right now, Luke Donald sits on top.