Golf tips: Assessing the top Europeans' chances at the Masters
Jack Green's golf tips analyse the chances of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari and more for the first major of the season at Augusta.
McIlroy won all three of his group matches at the WGC Dell Match Play last week before losing a cracking quarter-final against Tiger Woods.
The extra rest following that defeat might actually benefit the world No. 3 as he pursues the only major that has eluded him in his career.
McIlroy has been in stunning form all year, finishing sixth or better in all six of his stroke play starts, including a win at the PLAYERS Championship.
He’s appeared much more relaxed on the course this year, which bodes well for him at the Masters, where he’s finished inside the top 10 in each of the past five years without going particularly close.
His price might be just too short, but the 29-year-old certainly has a massive chance.
It’s surely only a matter of time until Rose wins his second major, having finished inside the top 20 in all four last year, with his cumulative score of -12 the best of any player who made all four cuts.
The Englishman has twice finished second at the Masters in the past four years, including losing in a playoff to Sergio Garcia in 2017.
He hasn’t been particularly active this season, but has done fairly well when he’s played, with three top-10 finishes – including a win at the Farmers Insurance Open – in six starts.
The world No. 2 is a truly elite player and has as good a chance to win at Augusta than anyone given how close he’s come in recent years, so his price – while relatively short – is justified.
There’s no doubt that Rahm is one of the most talented golfers in the world, but his temperament is an issue.
The Spaniard has six top-10 finishes from nine starts this season, but really should have a win to his name after throwing away a lead at the PLAYERS Championship with a final round of 76.
Rahm made a disastrous decision on the 11th hole on that Sunday at Sawgrass, ignoring his caddy’s advice and attempting an impossible bunker shot that ended up in the water, effectively killing his chances.
That immaturity means that, although he finished fourth at Augusta last year, it’s difficult to back him at an event that’s such a mental test.
Molinari has been the most consistent golfer in Europe, if not the world, over the past year, with four wins in the past 12 months, including his triumph at the Open in July.
The Italian remains, however, a surprisingly generous price for the Masters.
He’s never finished higher than T19 at Augusta, but landed a T20 last year and is very likely to better that result this time around.
Molinari is just a few weeks removed from his most recent victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and eased to five successive wins at last week’s WGC Dell Match Play before being beaten by Kevin Kisner in the semi-finals.
He looks to be one of the best bets for the tournament.
Fleetwood’s highest Masters finish to date was a T17 last year, and it’d be no surprise if he bettered that this year.
The 28-year-old has made a decent start to the year. He’s only placed inside the top 15 in two events, but went close in both, finishing T3 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T5 at the PLAYERS Championship.
It’s probably best to avoid backing him to win at Augusta, though, given that he’s yet to triumph in America.
He has two top-five finishes at the US Open to his name, but there are more reliable winners available at a similar price.
Casey believes the Masters is his best chance to win a major, and it's hard to disagree with him.
The Englishman has finished inside the top six in major championships on just five occasions, but three of those have come at Augusta over the past four years.
The course clearly suits his game, and he’s in fine form, having won the Valspar Championship for the second year running in March.
The 41-year-old looks a decent bet to place once again, but the fact that he has only won three times in America in his career – and that no player over the age of 40 has won at Augusta since 1998 – means a victory might be out of his reach.
Various controversies have overshadowed what has been a good start to the season for Garcia, with five top-10s in nine starts so far.
In fact, he’s finished ninth or better in 10 of his last 14 starts dating back to September, a run that includes an October victory at Valderrama.
It’s been an impressive spell for the 2017 Masters champion, but he hasn’t won in America since that triumph over Rose at Augusta and missed the cut in all four majors last year.
Until he proves he can contend at the biggest events again, he’s one to avoid.
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