NCG writers predict what will (and won't) happen at the Masters
Ah, the Masters, bringing avid and part-time golf fans together for four days in glorious harmony.
And, if you’re anything like us, you’ll be glued to your television screen from the moment the ceremonial opening tee shots are hit, to the new champion slipping into the famous Green Jacket.
Here, the NCG team give their verdict on what to expect at Augusta this week…
Dan Murphy, editor
Winner: Not Dustin Johnson. You can’t win every time you play unless you are called T. Woods and he is called D. Johnson. Maybe Phil Mickelson can roll back the years – he was very good in the WGC-Match Play and we know how much he loves Augusta.
Winning score: I am hearing reports of some gusting winds so let’s go for a modest 9-under 279.
Player to watch: I quite like the way Daniel Berger plays – unconventional, strong, fearless – and he arrives on the back of a top-five in Houston.
Surprise flop: I don’t think that Jordan Spieth can keep up with a Masters record that has seen him win once and come second twice in his three appearances to date.
Most looking forward to: I’d love to see Rory get off to something resembling a start. He could then dominate in a way he is clearly capable of at Augusta but we are yet to see.
What will happen? The likes of Mickelson, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen will be queueing up on the leaderboard as they do year after year.
What won’t happen? We won’t get a shootout between Dustin, Rory and Jordan. Sorry, but you very rarely get this kind of thing happening in a major
Alex Perry, digital editor
Winner: Rory will overcome his Augusta demons. (He will!)
Winning score: I just did the average winning score for the past decade and it was 10-under, so there you go.
Player to watch: Jon Rahm. Obviously.
Surprise flop: Dustin Johnson. Obviously.
Most looking forward to: Everyone going on about Phil Mickelson’s shot from the pine straw in 2010 but stopping short of reminding us that he missed the resulting putt.
What will happen? I’ll lump on Lee Westwood, who will miss a six-inch putt while in contention on Sunday and finish T30.
What won’t happen? The winner wearing something that looks good with the Green Jacket.
Mark Townsend, deputy editor
Winner: Phil Mickelson. This is it, Phil’s last hurrah. Forget the US Open, this week he’ll slip into a fourth Green Jacket to tie Tiger Woods and eclipse Jack Nicklaus as the oldest Masters champion.
Winning score: 11-under. This last happened in 1993 so is long overdue.
Player to watch: When was the last defending champion to be 125-1? I fancy Danny Willett to feed off all the good vibes of 12 months ago and post a top 20.
Surprise flop: Jon Rahm. That might seem a bit harsh to single out someone who is making their debut but it is his first time and he won’t play more than two rounds this week.
Most looking forward to: Jordan Spieth’s tee shot at the 12th all week, even in the practice rounds. For my money he’s the strongest mentally of anyone and hopefully he’ll prove it.
What will happen? We’ll all shed a tear when we watch the Thursday morning drive-in without Arnold Palmer. All being well Gary Player will throttle back on the kung-fu kicks this year.
What won’t happen? I’ll have five bets and then close all my accounts until Monday morning. I’d give myself until around 6pm Thursday before getting the twitch and backing Hudson Swafford.
Steve Carroll, club editor
Winner: Jordan Spieth. He’s finished second, first and second in three Masters outings and, until he proves otherwise, he is the one to beat at Augusta.
Winning score: Seven-under. If the weather is changeable and there’s a bit of rain, the course will play very long. The greens will still be very quick.
Player to watch: Bill Haas. At a three-figure price with the bookies he’s underrated, but has a lot of game and has performed creditably in the past.
Surprise flop: Jason Day. Probably not that much of a surprise given his mother’s illness. Might be more unexpected if he contends but he is still one of the world’s best.
Most looking forward to: That lush green grass that you don’t see anywhere else. It reminds you that the season is in full swing once again.
What will happen? Someone will complain about the half-mile walk from the new media centre to the course, even though Augusta have built them a veritable paradise.
What won’t happen? Spieth to fist-pump Tiger-style after a birdie on the 12th on the first day.
James Savage, equipment editor
Winner: Rory McIlroy. He needs to have his best putting week of the year but it will happen.
Winning score: 18-under. The greens will be soft so scores will be low.
Player to watch: Tyrrell Hatton. In great form and is one of the best putters around.
Surprise flop: Dustin Johnson. His high power fade won’t get the job done round Augusta.
Most looking forward to: Rory McIlroy putting on the Green Jacket.
What will happen? Dustin Johnson’s high power fade will get the job done.
What won’t happen? Rory McIlroy putting on the Green Jacket.
Nicola Hewson, Lady Golfer
Winner: Rickie Fowler is a major champion in waiting. If it’s not the Masters, then the Open.
Winning score: I think they’ll set up the course quite tricky for better ratings so around 6-under, and winner by one.
Player to watch: Got to go with Paul Casey. On the up and up and missed out on the Ryder Cup due to eligibility and a couple of top 10s already this year.
Surprise flop: Justin Thomas. After back-to-back wins at the start of year I think he’ll miss the cut.
Most looking forward to: Hearing the word patrons more times in four days than the other 361 days of the year.
What will happen? Angel Cabrera showing the young guns how it’s done.
What won’t happen? Lee Westwood tripping putts per round stats.
James Broadhurst, production editor
Winner: Rickie Fowler. He’s in great form and I have him in the office sweepstake.
Winning score: 11-under.
Player to watch: Jim Furyk. Didn’t play last year and missed the cut the year before but loves playing Augusta.
Surprise flop: Phil Mickelson to miss the cut for the second year running.
Most looking forward to: Seeing how Jon Rahm tackles Augusta.
What will happen? The tournament will be decided by a play-off for the first time since 2013.
What won’t happen? Sergio Garcia will finally break his major duck.
Joe Urquhart, social media editor
Winner: Phil Mickelson.
Winning score: Looking at the predicted weather on Thursday and Friday with the winds I reckon it could be a bit of a battle early but ease up for the weekend. I’ll go for 12-under.
Player to watch: Former Masters champion Zach Johnson. He is at 100/1 and for me that is way too high.
Surprise flop: Henrik Stenson to miss the cut. Struggled with his game over the last few weeks on the PGA Tour.
Most looking forward to: The overreaction to something Rickie Fowler is wearing.
What will happen? Some idiot shouting “Bababooey!” as the champion in waiting tees off down 18 on Sunday.
What won’t happen? Said idiot won’t be banned from every golf tournament for the rest of time.
Craig Middleton, digital journalist
Winner: Rory McIlroy. Surely, this year…
Winning score: 10-under.
Player to watch: Adam Hadwin. Has a feel of Danny Willett last year, with a lot of good things going on in his life.
Surprise flop: Adam Scott. Again. The Australian has failed to impress at Augusta since winning in 2013.
Most looking forward to: Commentators acting surprised every time a player hits a driver more than 300 yards.
What will happen? My sweepstake picks will all miss the cut.