Nick Bonfield picks out five US Masters favourites for 2019 from a considerable list of Green Jacket contenders
US Masters Favourites 2019
The US Masters is the most highly-anticipated major of them all, a product of its position in the golfing calendar, the quality and beauty of its host venue and the fact at least half the field have a genuine chance of winning if the chips fall in their favour.
As such, it’s always a difficult task predicting who might do well. Augusta National presents many birdie and eagle opportunities, but disaster lurks around every corner. Players can go from contenders to out of contention in a single hole.
Below, I’ve picked out five favourites from the upper echelons of the world rankings who I expect to contend this year. As you’ll see, there’s no place for the likes of Brooks Kopeka, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. Without further ado…
The Top US Masters Favourites
Rory McIlroy – 7/1
Rory McIlroy is understandably the favourite for The Masters, given the fact he won the Players Championship and hasn’t finished outside the top six on the PGA Tour this season.
It remains to be seen how last year’s final-round – and perhaps his 2011 Sunday implosion too – will affect him this time around, but it’s hard to imagine him not contending. His driving is imperious and his putting looks much improved, too.
Dustin Johnson – 10/1
I do have some concerns about Dustin Johnson’s short-range putting at the moment, but he’s a phenomenal driver of the golf ball and his tournament-winning pedigree speaks for itself.
That said, only one Major simply isn’t enough for a player of his ability, and he’ll know that better than anyone. Still, he comes into The Masters in good form – he notched his 20th PGA Tour title and sixth WGC at the Mexico Championship – and he’s registered three top-tens in his last three visits to Augusta National.
Justin Rose – 12/1
I’m convinced Justin Rose will win a Green Jacket at some point during his career. He’s already notched two runner-up finishes at Augusta – including a play-off loss to Sergio Garcia in 2017 – and his recent Masters record is fantastic. He hasn’t finished outside the top 25 since 2008 and has eight top-14s since 2007. He’s long off the tee, he hits the ball high, he’s one of the best iron players in the game and he’s turned his putting from a weakness into a strength.
Justin Thomas – 16/1
It might strike some of you as strange that I’ve plumped for Justin Thomas over the likes of Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler here, given he’s the only member of the world’s top ten to have failed to record a victory so far this season.
This is significant when it comes to The Masters, as many previous champions had won in the lead-up to Augusta. But Thomas is a class act and his form has been good this season – he has four top-tens in seven PGA Tour events. He’s yet to record a top-ten in three Masters starts, but he’s improved every year and has top-25s in both 2017 and 2018. His game looks well suited to Augusta National and he has Major-winning pedigree.
Adam Scott – 40/1
Adam Scott is barely a favourite at this price, but I wanted to include him regardless. I’ve been watching him closely this season and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen. He hasn’t been at his best since 2014, but he looks to be approaching top form again. He has three top-12s in six starts on the PGA Tour this season – including a second behind Justin Rose at the Farmers Insurance Open – and he remains one of the best ball-strikers in the game.
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Encouragingly, his putting – a perennial achilles heel – seems to have improved markedly, too. Couple the above with the fact he’s a past Masters Champion and I’d expect to see him contend in 2019.