Predictions for Tiger Woods at the 2015 Masters are a dime a dozen, yet the world's most famous golfer isn't currently ranked. If we're looking for predictions on the ranked players, the experts are all over the place.
Andy North of ESPN.com says Jordan Spieth has the best chance to win of any of the promising 25-and-under Americans. Spieth has had back-to-back second-place finishes, and those followed a win at the Valspar Championship in mid-March. He narrowly missed winning the Masters last year, and he's a sensible pick to contend in this year's event.
Geoff Shackelford of Golf Digest doesn't exactly pick a winner, but he says one of the 12 players he lists will win the year's first major. That list includes:
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Rory McIlroy
- Bubba Watson
- Dustin Johnson
- Adam Scott
- Jason Day
- Jimmy Walker
- Patrick Reed
- Matt Kuchar
- Hideki Matsuyama
- Henrik Stenson
That's clearly not a bad list. One look at the betting odds to win the tournament confirms it. The top-10 players with the most favorable odds are included in Shackelford's list. Per Odds Shark, McIlroy is the favorite:
- Rory McIlroy 6/1
- Jordan Spieth 8/1
- Bubba Watson 11/1
- Dustin Johnson 14/1
- Jason Day 14/1
- Henrik Stenson 20/1
- Adam Scott 22/1
- Jimmy Walker 22/1
- Phil Mickelson 22/1
- Patrick Reed 28/1
Shackelford presented reasons why each of the 12 men could win at Augusta, but his case for Walker was especially strong. Shackelford wrote:
"The numbers don't lie: five wins in 18 months, a top-10 finish in his first Masters, 18th in driving distance and ninth in total putting. Oh, and he comes into Augusta coming off of an impressive win in San Antonio. Now is his time."
Much of last year, while Walker was off to an unreal pace to begin the season, skeptics waited for him to turn into a pumpkin and come crashing back down to Earth. He didn't win after February, but he did have six top-10 finishes from that point on.
Lo and behold, the 36-year-old is back at it again this season. He's first in the FedEx Cup standings and has already won twice.
Most recently, he captured the Valero Texas Open to close out March. Maybe this "is his time."
Bleacher Report's Mike Chiari pulls no punches in his prediction. He plainly states: "Dustin Johnson will win his first Green Jacket." Since returning from voluntary leave to address some personal issues, Johnson has played pretty well.
He won the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and finished sixth at the Valero Texas Open. Known for his long hitting, Johnson's game seems tailored to shine at Augusta. Johnson is certainly a threat but, like most experts, it seems Chiari is ignoring Woods a little too much. Chiari predicts Woods will miss the cut.
After recent struggles and inactivity, Woods shouldn't be a favorite, but the lack of respect might be setting up one of Tiger's most memorable performances. If you can't watch the tournament, just check to see if the Internet spontaneously combusts. If it does, Woods is not just in contention, he won the whole thing.
I'm not ready to say he'll win, but I will say that Woods will finish in the Top 10, and ahead of McIlroy. We'll find out this week whose predictions came true.