The Washington Post

Five golfers primed to win their first major this week at Augusta National

(Getty Images Photos/Express Illustration)

Tiger Woods won’t be playing in the Masters for the first time in 20 years. While he hasn’t won a major since 2008 — and last won at Augusta National in 2005 — Woods is the favorite to win every time he steps on a golf course. So without him in the field, who’s entering this year’s Masters as the man to beat? Two-time major winner Rory McIlroy and defending Masters champion Adam Scott opened with the best odds, but the better bet may be on someone without a major victory on his résumé. When Jason Dufner won in last year’s PGA Championship, he became the 15th first-time major winner in the last 19 played. Here’s a ranking of five golfers who are primed to win their first major this week at Augusta.

1. Jason Day

Best major finish: Second (2011 Masters, 2011 U.S. Open)

Odds to win: 16-1*

The 26-year-old Australian finished eighth or better in three of the four majors last year and had two second-place major finishes in 2011. But Day is getting over an injured left thumb and hasn’t played a competitive round since he won the Match Play Championship in late February. He had a cortisone shot and will be taping his thumb this week, but he says he feels fine. Six weeks ago he was playing great. Will the time off for his injury hurt his game?

2. Dustin Johnson

Best major finish: Tied for second (2011 British Open)

Odds to win: 18-1

The Masters is the only major that Johnson doesn’t have a top 10 finish at, but he was a career-best 13th last year at Augusta. He isn’t coming off his best performance (he withdrew from the Houston Open after shooting an opening round 80), but he has three top five finishes since February. The 29-year-old is second to Bubba Watson on the PGA Tour in driving distance in 2014. Watson won the green jacket in 2012, so why not Johnson this year?

3. Matt Kuchar

Best major finish: Tied for third (2012 Masters)

Odds to win: 25-1

After back-to-back top 10 Masters finishes, Kuchar seems ready to sport that green jacket. In 2012, he was tied for the lead with three holes to play but ended up finishing tied for third. Right now, there may not be anyone playing better. Kuchar finished second in the Houston Open last weekend and was tied for fourth in the Texas Open the weekend before. To win this weekend, he’ll need a stronger finish than the final-round 73 he posted last year when he was eighth.

4. Lee Westwood

Best major finish: Second (2010 Masters, 2010 British Open)

Odds to win: 50-1

It’s been an ugly year for Westwood. He’s fallen to 37th in the world rankings, and he doesn’t have a top 15 finish this season. But Westwood has been great at Augusta; he just hasn’t won it yet. Since 2010, he’s finished: second, tied for 11th, tied for third and tied for eighth. That’s four straight top 15 Masters finishes. But in that span, he’s broken 70 only once on a Sunday. A low final round would certainly help end his careerlong major drought.

5. Brandt Snedeker

Best major finish: Tied for third (2008 Masters, 2012 British Open)

Odds to win: 35-1

The 33-year-old played really well at last year’s Masters, but a final-round 75 crushed any chance of him winning. He finished tied for sixth — five strokes back of Adam Scott. Snedeker has had an underwhelming season, but his best result was in his last tournament, when he finished tied for eighth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month. He’s got a FedEx Cup title under his belt, and maybe this is the year he gets that elusive first major.

* Odds by Keith Glantz and Russell Culver

Jeffrey Tomik is the sports editor at Express and has worked in the D.C. area since 2007.



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Marissa Payne · April 9, 2014