Thursday, April 11, 2013

Masters Predictionz: Top 8 Potential Winners

By Adam Maher

After day one of the 2013 Masters, it's safe to say that we're in for a tight race to the cut. 33 players are within five strokes of the leaders Sergio Garcia (Spain) and Marc Leishman (Australia), who are both sitting quite pretty at -6.

Of the 16 potential Masters winners I listed last night, nine players are within that 33 player field. So as I plan to cut my list of 16 from last night down to just eight players heading into Friday, you might think I'm in good shape.

Until you realize Rory McIlroy is not one of those nine players. 

In what I like to call my "original top 16," the rankings were in order of who I thought would have the best chance to win -- Rory was ranked #2. Having said that, Rory is the only player who was in my original top eight that didn't make the arbitrary yet obviously usable top 9 from my original 16. 

In making my first cut, I'm going to automatically give the players who were in my original top eight that also made my new arbitrary nine-player cut an automatic bid into the next round:

Dustin Johnson at -5 (original top 16 rank: 4);
Rickie Fowler at -4 (6);
Brandt Snedeker at -2 (3);
Justin Rose at -2 (7);
Tiger Woods at -2 (1);
Charl Schwartzel at -1 (8)
Bo van Pelt at -1 (5)

Phil Mickelson (12) and Bernhard Langer (14) are both as well at -1 and round out the nine player list from my original top 16 who are within five strokes of the lead.

This leaves one awkward spot left to fill the second round. What makes it even more awkward? Choosing between Phil and Rory (Sorry, Bernhard) is a really tough call!

So I have a serious decision to make here. Do I stick with Phil's hot start? Or do I stick with my gut feeling from before play started and give the last spot to McIlroy?

Phil seemed extremely confident during press conferences all week. 75% of his major tournament victories have come on this course. Phil made four birdies on the back nine on Thursday, while Rory made five bogies on the back nine.

Rory has also struck me as a bit offset recently. It's not just his play. His whole demeanor is completely withdrawn and I think something is bothering him outside of the game that we don't know about. As hard as a decision as this is, I'm going to have to go with Phil to finish out my top eight.

So here they are, in ranking order:

1) Tiger Woods
2) Brandt Snedeker
3) Dustin Johnson
4) Justin Rose
5) Rickie Fowler
6) Phil Mickelson
7) Charl Schwartzel
8) Bo van Pelt

May the best man advance! Tune in tomorrow to to see who my top four heading into what we in the golf game like to call "Moving Day!"