Staff at THE ATHLETIC makes their Masters Picks

#1
It’s here. Which means it’s time. On Tuesday, the Grill Room panel kicked around thoughts about the first fall Masters. Now we’re back with fearless predictions.

Brendan Quinn: No one is talking about Rory McIlroy, so, what the hell, I’ll take him. Any notion that this guy is going to go away or is going away is … insane. He’s going to come back with a thunderclap one of these days, and I’ll say this is the week. McIlroy wins in the rain at 9 under.

Daniel Shirley: He hasn’t been great in Augusta (T12 is his best finish in four trips), but give me Justin Thomas at 8 under.

Josh Kendall: Bryson DeChambeau at 15 under. You saw my thoughts on this Tuesday, but I’ll expand here. Most first-time winners at Augusta National show the proper genuflection during their winning press conference. What do we expect a winning DeChambeau press conference to sound like? A physics class, that’s what.

Chris Kirschner: I’m going with Bryson at 12 under. Long, accurate drivers are normally rewarded at Augusta, and with the way he has been playing, it’s hard imagining him not being in prime position on Sunday.

Hugh Kellenberger: Brooks Koepka is not afraid of playing the week before a major, and we’ve seen him do that and win multiple times. He fired back-to-back rounds of 65 on the weekend at the Houston Open, so I think he is ready to come out and win his first Masters, at 11 under.

Aaron Suttles: Give me Brooks. Perhaps this is a heart-over-head pick, because I’d really like Brooks to beat Bryson, but it feels like it’s time for Brooks. His attitude seems to lend itself to championship golf, and it has worked out for him with multiple majors. He’ll add another Sunday evening.

Mark Godich: Koepka in a playoff over Dustin Johnson, at 11 under. He’s coming off a big week in Houston and was second-guessing himself for testing a new driver in the first two rounds. We know what he thinks about the number of actual contenders in a major, and with the weather forecast calling for rain, you can probably cross more guys off the list. Finally, many forget he let the championship slip away last year. Not this time.

Brian Mull: Justin Thomas. He’s the best iron player in the game, and his putting has improved over the last two months. He also has gleaned valuable insight into the nuances of Augusta National through annual Masters practice rounds with Fred Couples and Tiger Woods.

Justin Ray: Justin Thomas has improved his Masters finish in each of his first three appearances. In 2020 he finishes the job. Statistically the best iron player on Earth the last 18 months, Thomas will hang onto a big Saturday night lead to beat Dustin Johnson by a shot, at 11 under. DJ becomes the first player to finish runner-up at the Masters in consecutive years since Tiger in 2007 and ’08.

Dennis Esser: I’m predicting a Xander Schauffele win. Schauffele is a bit under the radar with DeChambeau dominating the news. After Dustin Johnson was sidelined with COVID-19, Schauffele became the hottest golfer on the planet. He was even the highest-priced golfer in DFS at one point. With his deft touch, Schauffele sits in second in strokes gained around the greens over his last 36 rounds. Combine that with a top-10 ranking off the tee in strokes gained over his last 36 rounds and you have a player ready to win majors. With the soft conditions, he’ll win at 15 under.
 

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