The 2019 Masters is loaded with world-class players. That’s the kind of high-brow analysis you come to The Fried Egg for, right? There are lots of guys who could win this week, so Andy and I decided to draft teams. It may be hard to pick a winner for the Masters, but it’s damn fun to try.
1st – Will – Rory McIlroy
I don’t think this should be a surprise to anyone, nor do I think anyone else should be the favorite this week. Rory is playing the best golf in the world right now. In fact, he has not finished outside the top 10 this season. Also, he has plenty of experience at Augusta. He has finished inside the top 10 each of the last five Masters, is leading the tour in strokes gained, and is hungry to complete the career grand slam.
2nd – Andy – Justin Rose
I will gladly take the world No. 1 Justin Rose at the number-two spot. Rose has never missed a cut at Augusta in 13 tries, a record that includes seven top-12 finishes. The Englishman hasn’t finished outside the top 25 since 2008 and finished in a tie for eighth at the Players, his last stroke-play start.
3rd – Will – Justin Thomas
It’s hard to not pick DJ here, but I just have a feeling about JT this week. Augusta National isn’t a place where he has had prior success, yet he has improved each year he’s played. Thomas leads the tour in birdie average per round (5.14/round), and we know that Augusta gives you the opportunity to score. He is one of few guys in the category of “when they’re playing their best they’re unbeatable.” I’ll take the flyer that this is his week.
4th – Andy – Dustin Johnson
On our latest podcast with Geoff Ogilvy, he remarked, “Dustin should be the favorite anytime he tees it up.” DJ has finished in the top 10 in his last three showings and just hasn’t put everything together. His power and accuracy off the tee are weapons few have . If some of his putts drop, he will be in the mix on Sunday.
5th – Will – Jordan Spieth
Literally nothing about Jordan Spieth’s current form tells you he can compete this week. As Sean Martin pointed out on The Fried Egg podcast on Monday, Spieth has statistically been one of the worst players on tour. However, this is Augusta National. The slopes, angles, and strategy of ANGC bring out Spieth’s genius in a way not many places do. He has the ability to be the best iron player in the world, and his pedigree at Augusta puts him in the discussion regardless of his current play.
6th – Andy – Rickie Fowler
Slick Rick has been the best putter at Augusta in the past four years, gaining over 1.6 shots on the greens per round (15th Club). He comes into this year’s tournament with a win and a runner-up through seven starts. In the past two years at the Masters, he has been in the mix on Sunday. Now 30 years old, Fowler has the experience to get it done this week and take home his first major..
7th – Will – Francesco Molinari
Every time I see Frankie on the tee sheet, I think he is going to win. His stats aren’t particularly impressive in 2019, yet he already has a win at Bay Hill and a third at the Match Play. His resurgence over the last 18 months has been powered by his ~20-yard increase in driving distance, and his dead-eye accuracy with irons remains elite. I would be shocked if he isn’t inside the top 15 come Sunday.
8th – Andy – Jon Rahm
Barring an eruption from Volcano Rahm, I really like his chances at Augusta. The 24-year-old’s temper tends to diminish his on-course achievements, which include six wins in just two full seasons. Rahm took another step towards his first major championship by contending in both last year’s Masters (fourth) and the PGA (T-4). This season, through nine starts, Rahm has finished outside the top 25 once and has six top 10s.
9th – Will – Tommy Fleetwood
Fleetwood adds to my stable of elite ball-strikers. His attitude is always top-notch and I love his demeanor on the golf course. He is fourth in strokes gained off the tee this year, and when you combine that with deadly iron play at Augusta, you tend to have success. He has the special ability to step on the gas, something that comes in handy on the back nine at Augusta.
10th – Andy – Tiger Woods
I’m all in on the alleged 65 during Monday’s practice round. The most important skill at Augusta is iron play, so I’m happy to see the best ever with irons available at 10. Tiger looked great at the Match Play and has missed only one cut at the Masters in his career.
11 – Will – Paul Casey
In his 12 trips to Augusta National, Paul Casey has eight finishes in the top 20. His forearms ball-strike the hell out of this golf course, making it difficult for him to fall out of the mix. I’m not saying Casey is going to win, but at the 11th pick, I will definitely take the near guarantee of a top-20 finish.
12 – Andy – Hideki Matsuyama
If Hideki putts at an average clip this week, he will find himself in the mix. Granted, that’s a big “if.” So far in the 2019 season, Matsuyama is second in SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Approach. Unfortunately, he is 180th in SG: Putting. In each of his last four trips to the Masters, Matsuyama has finished in the top 20. He also played well in his last stroke-play event, notching a T-8 at the Players.
13 – Will – Brooks Koepka
It became evident during this draft that neither Andy nor I was confident in Brooksy this week. At 13th overall, I’m willing to take a flyer on Diet Koepka. His intentional weight loss over the last few months has been questionable at best. While his recent form is troubling,we have plenty of evidence to suggest that Koepka doesn’t need to be in good form to win. Over his last three Masters, he has gone T-33, T-21, and T-11, so maybe this is the year for his first top 10.
14 – Andy – Bryson DeChambeau
Never bet against DeChambeau after a scientific breakthrough. In his Monday presser, Bryson said, “We are now starting to understand how shafts truly work.” But in all seriousness, since last year’s Masters, DeChambeau has been nails, winning five times and ascending to No. 6 in the world rankings. In his two appearances at Augusta, DeChambeau has finished T-21 (as an amateur in 2016) and T-39 last year, despite finishing second-to-last in SG: Putting. Maybe the self-proclaimed scientist will crack the genome of Augusta’s greens in 2019.
15 – Will – Jason Day
I could have gone with a lot of different guys here. Finau, Bubba, Xander, and Sergio all crossed my mind but JDay has history at Augusta National. He has never missed a cut, has never finished worse than T-28, and has three top-10 finishes. It should come as no surprise that he also has a WD at the Masters, but I like his chances if he plays all four rounds this week.
16 – Andy – Phil Mickelson
While his recent trips to the Masters have been suspect at best, Phil can always compete at Augusta. Majors are the only tournaments Phil truly cares about at this point, and you know he loves contending on this golf course. He has 15 top 10s at the Masters over his career and is worth taking a chance on each time he drives down Magnolia Lane.