Picking one player out of a field of more than 90 golfers to win a tournament is folly. Even when Tiger Woods was at the absolute apex of his game, it was still a safer bet to pick the rest of the field over one man – even one playing at super levels.
But it wouldn't be any fun to be pragmatic, so the following is a list of three players who could win this week's masters Tournament, starting today at Augusta National Golf Club. The first is the player who has the best shot of actually winning, the second is a dark horse candidate and the third is a selection from the ranks of potential first-time champions.
Like most years, the easy thing to do would be to pick Woods but that's too easy and honestly, a little boring. That's why I'm going out on a limb – albeit a short one – and tabbing Brandt Snedeker as my favorite to don a green jacket Sunday evening. Before he was sidelined with a rib injury, no one was playing as well as Snedeker was at the start of the season – not even Woods. The No. 5 player in the world finished second in his first two events before winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am the first week in February.
He followed that with six weeks off because of the rib injury and has missed the cut in his first two events since returning to the tour. But he's considered to be one of the best putters in the game, and that matters more at Augusta than almost anywhere else. Snedeker also has a strong track record in the Masters, tying for third in 2008, when he got to the back nine with a chance to win. While he's finished tied for 15th and 19th the past two years, he's mixed in some stellar rounds that show he's capable of greatness in Augusta.
The dark horse
If Snedeker doesn't win a green jacket, a player who very well could, but is coming into this week a little under the radar is Jason Day. The young Australian and No. 36 in the world golf ranking has only played in the Masters twice, but his debut in 2011 was impressive. Day shot a second-round 64 that year to finish tied for second place. If not for a record-tying finish by eventual winner Charl Schwartzel that year, Day very well could have a green jacket waiting for him in the locker room this week.
The 25 year old showed no fear on golf's biggest stage, but has faded slightly from usual suspect list of contenders because of an injury that forced him to withdraw after last year's first round and prevented him from playing a full slate of events. He's healthier now and got off to a good start this season, making a strong run in the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship and is definitely a player to watch.
I'm sticking with the theme of would-be first-time winners for the third slot, going with K.J. Choi. The Korean who's 75th in the world has three top 10 finishes in past Masters and is coming off a sixth-place showing in the Texas Open.
With these three picks out of a field of 93, how could I go wrong?
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.