Masters Preview: 10 contenders to watch this week

Golf Equipment

We highlight 10 Augusta hopefuls and explain why this could be their week

Bubba Watson
Our defending champion – having slung his gap wedge round the trees at the 10th to 15 feet in last year’s play-off. What tends to be forgotten are the four straight birdies from the 13th after a bogey on 12. That was his fourth Masters outing and he is yet to miss a cut.
World ranking: 14
Best Masters finish: Champion (2012)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Webb Simpson
Last year was Simpson’s Masters debut, he finished in a tie for 44th, two months later he became the US Open champion. Not attracted many headlines this year but is just starting to post some very tidy finishes.
World ranking: 20
Best Masters finish: T44 (2012)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Lee Westwood
Has led the Masters by five shots, three years ago, but then ran into a Mickelson juggernaut. Remains the only European to finish second since Olazabal’s win in 1999, a year Westwood threatened on the front nine on Sunday.
World ranking: 13
Best Masters finish: 2nd (2010)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Luke Donald
For all the talk of Augusta being a bomber’s paradise Donald has recorded three top 10s in the last eight years. Curiously, he has only had four in the other Majors put together. Few will be better around the devilish greens.
World ranking: 4
Best Masters finish: T3 (2005)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Ian Poulter
His first Major since all the heroics of Medinah and back to somewhere he is very comfortable. Results-wise this is Poulter’s best Major, no great surprise given how good a putter he is. Yet to miss a cut in eight starts.
World ranking: 12
Best Masters finish: 7th (2012)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Westwood remains the only European to finish second since Olazabal’s win in 1999 Louis Oosthuizen
But for Bubba’s brilliance he could have been returning as defending champion. Has a strange record here, given that he missed his first three cuts, but looked every inch a Masters champion. Holed his second for an albatross two at the 2nd on Sunday.
World ranking: 6
Best Masters finish: 2nd (2012)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Rickie Fowler
Does orange and green go? Probably not but Fowler will still give it a go. One of the Golf Boys and might be inspired by fellow ‘band’ member Bubba Watson last year. Still only 24 but already a winner on tour.
World ranking: 28
Best Masters finish: T27 (2012)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Nicolas Colsaerts
This will be the Belgian’s debut and just his sixth Major start. If you’re looking for a rookie to go well then Colsaerts might be the one to single out, he hits it further than anyone and, on his day, holes loads (as we saw at Medinah).
World ranking: 42
Best Masters finish: –
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Hunter Mahan
Another who saves his best Major efforts for Augusta and another who features highly on the Major-less winners. Three top 12s or better in the last four years, the fear is the short game might not quite be up to Green Jacket scratch.
World ranking: 21
Best Masters finish: T8 (2010)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Bo Van Pelt
Not a household name but seems to crop up at Augusta. Two years ago he very nearly got involved in the shake-up, tying for 8th, last year he closed with a best-of-the-week 64 (helped by a hole-in-one at the 16th) for another top 20.
World ranking: 26
Best Masters finish: T8 (2011)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1

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