PGA Tour: 2014 Masters contenders

Golf’s most exciting weekend is upon us, next Thursday all eyes will be tuned into the first round of the 2014 Masters Championship at Augusta National. After a nasty winter, spring has finally brought on the perfect weather for golf, helping fairways and greens come to life.

Yes, Tiger Woods may not be in the field this year, but the great thing about the game of golf is that it is mostly always a surprise. This year’s Masters winner could be a golfer who hasn’t even won a tournament yet.

The key to taking home the green jacket doesn’t depend on age or who has the most style. It’s all about putting. But this also means hitting the ball where you want to be putting from on the green. This takes confidence, something every past Masters winner has had.

Last year, Adam Scott proved that youth was not an issue. He controlled the greens and made tons of birdies. He made putts from 10, 20, even 30 feet like it was nothing. Odds on him winning again may be high in Las Vegas, but in my opinion, I think we will have a new champion.

Putting is where I think Fred Couples will shine. While watching him during the 2014 Mississippi Gulf Coast Resorts Classic, I was very impressed at how well he putted. Couples took his time and read each putt, he studied how the greens broke and he made some incredible putts. Couples will stand out from the older crowd. He is No. 1 in driving distance and also No. 1 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.

The Johnsons have both shown potential and both are in the top ten of the FedEx Cup Standings. The Johnsons of course being Zach, who won at Augusta in 2007, and Dustin, number 3 in the FedEx Cup Standings. Both have the experience needed to win a Major and could be contendors.

Billy Horschel has made a name for himself on tour this past year, picking up his first win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and following that up with a few good finishes. I believe that he will be on top the leaderboard by the weekend- maybe wearing some interesting pants from his sponsor, Ralph Lauren.

A name that has been all over the PGA Tour is Patrick Reed. By winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship, he showed why he’ll be someone to follow in this year’s Masters. It is impressive how consistent his play has been. The timing is right for Reed to win a Major- I believe his mental game and his confidence level are in a good place and will help him handle the pressure.

You can’t count players like Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner out either. These guys have proven numerous times that they can be contenders. Snedeker is the only one from this group that hasn’t won a major and Bubba is the only one that has won The Masters.

I hope to see Bubba’s right hand man, Rickie Fowler, perform well. Rickie has been working very hard ever since he got on tour and I have been looking forward to him winning a Major. However, Rickie has been finishing at the bottom half of the field in most of his tournaments this season. Hopefully, he will have a breakthrough and have a great week.

Does Phil Mickelson have what it takes to win another major? Without Tiger in the field, a lot of eyes will be on Phil. A seasoned veteran who still is competitive as ever even while battling back and joint problems. I am looking forward to watching Phil compete and win his sixth major.

Although many people are cheering on rookie Jordan Spieth to pick up his first Major win, I believe it is still too early. Major Championships are all about experience. Spieth still has a few years before he will win a major, but not long.

With all of this being said, the professional I see wearing a green jacket next Sunday evening is Harris English. English has been busy this season on tour playing in 11 events and finishing in the top ten six times, also recording one win at the 2013 OHL Classic at Mayakoba. The interesting thing is that English has never played in the Masters before- not even a U.S. Open. Will this give him an advantage or be a disadvantage? One side of it is he will come in fresh, not knowing what pressure is associated with the Masters. The other side of it is there could be some nervous energy about playing in his first Masters.

This proves that despite some people’s beliefs, the Masters will still be worth watching even with Tiger’s absence. It could be a past winner or it could be a rookie. Whichever it is, it will be a great week for all golf fans!