PGA Tour's Hottest and Coldest Golfers Heading into Week of April 9

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IApril 9, 2013

PGA Tour's Hottest and Coldest Golfers Heading into Week of April 9

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    This is the right time for Tour players to be hot. It's Masters week, and four clutch rounds are all that separate any golfer from the eternal glory of donning a green jacket.

    Not that being hot leading into any single tournament means a player will stay hot. The golf gods can author a reversal of fortune at any moment. 

    However, it does help the odds of successful prognostication to identify trends. This slideshow aims to do just that. 

Cold No. 3: Hunter Mahan

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    Hunter Mahan is streaky. He'll go through stretches where he looks like he's ready to be a top-five golfer and then suddenly he will fall off. 

    Mahan got off to a strong start, and he looked like he was getting ready to dominate as he finished eighth at the Northern Trust Open. He followed that up by being the runner-up in the Accenture Match Play Championship. 

    He then recorded a 25th- and 21st-place finish, which isn't terrible, but it was definitely a step in the wrong direction. 

    The wheels later came off the bus at the Houston Open as he fired a 74 and 71 to miss the cut. 

    Mahan, who is typically a solid putter, has lost confidence on the greens. 

    Despite his recent woes, however, I wouldn't count Mahan out at Augusta. He is a wonderful ball striker and has a good game for Augusta. If he can get his putting stroke ironed out, he can contend. 

Hot No. 3: Billy Horschel

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    Billy Horschel failed to qualify for the Masters, and it's too bad because he is in a nice groove. 

    The 26-year-old is coming off a second-place finish at the Houston Open and a third-place finish at last week's Texas Open. 

    Horschel entered the final round of the Texas Open with a two-stroke lead, but he shot a disappointing 71 and failed in his last bid to qualify. 

    Still, he has a lot to be excited about. He's really starting to come into his own, and he is climbing up the money list. 

    Horschel doesn't do anything at a jaw-dropping level, but he is a good ball striker and a solid all-around player. 

Cold No. 2: Retief Goosen

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    Two-time major winner Retief Goosen hasn't been at his best for a while, and he hasn't won a PGA event since 2009.

    However, he is still capable of good play, and he started his year off strong with a ninth-place finish at Pebble Beach.

    However, he is lost right now. He has missed the cut in two of his last four events. His last time on the course came at the Texas Open. He started off strong with a 70 and 69, but he fired an ugly 80 and a 71 to limp to a 53rd-place finish.

    Goosen has lost some distance off the tee, and he now appears completely incapable of holding it together for four consecutive rounds.  

Hot No. 2: Keegan Bradley

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    Keegan Bradley is in a nice groove. He has four consecutive top-10 finishes that stretch back to his fourth-place finish at the Honda Classic. 

    Bradley is an intense competitor and a smart golfer. He has good distance off the tee and is solid in all other areas. 

    He definitely has the kind of game to contend at Augusta. 

    Bradley finished 27th at the Masters last year in his first attempt at the iconic tournament. I would be shocked if he doesn't improve on that this year. 

Cold No. 1: Brandt Snedeker

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    Brandt Snedeker started off this year insanely hot, but he was derailed by a rib injury that forced him out of action for over a month. 

    Not surprisingly, this injury threw him off his game. Snedeker's first tournament in his return came at Bay Hill. He fired back-to-back 76s to miss the cut. 

    His only other tournament since then has been the Houston Open, where he again missed the cut. 

    Snedeker looked a little better as he fired rounds of 74 and 71, but this is still a far cry from the player who had fired 10 straight rounds in the 60s prior to his injury. 

    If Snedeker can stay healthy, he should be back playing at a high level. Although, I wouldn't expect him to yet have the consistency needed to contend at Augusta. 

Hot No. 1: Tiger Woods

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    Tiger Woods enters the Masters as the overwhelming favorite, and for good reason. Tiger has been on the prowl. 

    He won his last time on the course, at Bay Hill, to give him his second consecutive win and the third in his four stroke-play tour events on the season. 

    Improvement in two key areas has really fueled his success: He is dialed in with his distance control and he is putting better than ever. 

    At an insane 1.476 strokes gained-putting, Tiger leads the Tour. 

    The only area of Tiger's game that is still lagging a bit is his accuracy off the tee, but driving accuracy is not all that vital at Augusta.