The Masters boasts the smallest field in the major championship golf and it’s not close. While the last three men’s majors all balloon to 156 players, the green jackets of Augusta start to get panicky when their field comes close to triple digits. The field has threatened the century mark in recent years, but not 2019.
This year we have a small field, even by Masters standards, totaling just 87 players. Some of those are past champions with no chance to win. Others are amateurs with little to no shot. So the universe at the Masters can be fairly contained compared to the total crapshoot of the 156-man field. Here’s my best attempt at ranking this field, from 87th to 1st.
87. Ian Woosnam. Battling a rheumatic back condition for years, the 1991 Masters champ’s still around despite saying he was going to step away from Augusta after 2016. God bless The Woosnam Zone.
86. Mike Weir. A former Masters champion making back-to-back Web Tour cuts this year would in few worlds be hailed as an improvement over the last half-decade, but, uh, yeah!
85. Alvaro Ortiz. Current Arkansas Razorback won the Latin American Amateur Championship to bring the Mexican flag back to Augusta for the first time since 1979. SIRI ‘WOO PIG’ BUT IN SPANISH.
84. Sandy Lyle. Former champ and loveable Scot who turns in a T-44 here once every four years.
83. Jose Maria Olazabal. In the wilderness on the Champions circuit but is still cooler than 90 percent of pros on tour today and this isn’t a knock on anyone.
82. Kevin O’Connell. Mid-am champ (who is kinda not really a mid-am at all but whatever) beat 2017 Masters Low Am Stewart Hagestad to get here.
81. Devon Bling. Young UCLA amateur has had an emotional journey to get here following the loss of his mother a few years back. Root for him.
80. Larry Mize. Everyone’s favorite Augusta local and former champ will surely enter the leaderboard early Thursday morning as usual, then exit shortly thereafter.
79. Angel Cabrera. Much like Weir, the two-time major winning, cigarrette-ripping 49-year-old is stuck in golf purgatory. El Pato’s splitting time between alternate field PGA Tour events, the Web Tour, and PGA Tour Latinoamerica. He’s made 2 cuts in his last 15 starts since the start of 2018. Not great!
78. Michael Kim. The only real, actual tour player amongst this group with the most powerful energy of 2019. Won last year’s John Deere out of nowhere after missing cuts all year prior to doing so, finished T-35 the next week at the Open, and then has made exactly one cut since.
77. Trevor Immelman. Once hit range balls next to Kyle Robbins at the Leadbetter Academy in 2010 and has never been heard from since.
76. Takumi Kanaya. Top-10 amateur in the world, so, 76th, sure, fine.
75. Andrew Landry. A guy you recognize from the Oakmont U.S. Open. A slight notch above Michael Kim in terms of “2018 winners in the twilight zone.”
74. Kevin Tway. Bob’s kid. Oklahoma State grad. Hangs out in Jupiter. Won some event this year. Has made one (1) cut in 2019.
73. Adam Long. Web Tour grad who won in Palm Springs, mostly forgettable since.
72. Shugo Imahira. Got Augusta’s special exemption, generally tossed toward some promising international player. Finished on top of the Japan Tour in 2018, but there’s a track record of players with success domestically in Japan with game that doesn’t seem to travel — and Imahira’s hardly been a world beater to start the year in just three starts.
71. Jovan Rebula. Ernie Els’ nephew. Won the British Amateur to get here. You’ll hear that a lot on the broadcast. Second best Am in the field. Here’s a video of him throwing a first pitch in a Chuma Okeke jersey.
70. Keith Mitchell. Came from mostly out of nowhere to win the Honda Classic, followed that up with a decent T-6 at Bay Hill. For absolutely no apparent reason, you could sell me on a top-20 finish here.
69. Corey Conners. Monday qualified into the Texas Open and won the dang thing to get here, which is straight-to-Crackle movie stuff.
68. Satoshi Kodaira. Above-average professional golfer who is great inside Japan and below-replacement outside of it. Won the Heritage last year.
67. Kyle Stanley. Good enough, well-liked tour player who’s known as a ballstriker but, uh, can’t do that or putt right now. Skip.
66. Patton Kizzire. Late-stage Smylie Kaufman. Accumulates the entirety of his FedExCup points between late October and January, then isn’t heard from for the rest of the season.
65. Fred Couples. Basketball had the Flu Game, golf has Freddie and his bad back dropping 66 while maybe hopped up on horse-racing-grade painkilllers one Friday every Spring.
64. Bernhard Langer. The Alleged Voter Fraud Knower will assuredly play his way into weekend coverage, as happens every year.
Major winners, but currently Bad
63. Jimmy Walker. Has struggled to recover form after his bout with Lyme disease through 2017. Contending is unlikely, but it’d make for a nice story.
62. Stewart Cink. Contended out of nowhere at last year’s PGA, but hasn’t really been in the picture since.
61. Danny Willett. It’s been a long, difficult road for Willett since his win here in 2016. His win in Dubai in November seems to be evidence he’s turning a corner again, but consistent contention is still a few months or more away.
60. Martin Kaymer. Still boggles my mind that Martin Kaymer was objectively the best player in the world less than a decade ago, then just decided to rebuild his swing because he was bored, basically.
59. Charl Schwartzel. 2011 champ’s been mostly forgettable of late.
58. Zach Johnson. LONG LIVE DAMON. YES I’M UNDERRATING HIM, WHATEVER.
57. Thorbjorn Olesen. I’m selling my stock on Olesen, though I probably have him too low here.
56. Matt Wallace. Spent most of 2018 on the Euro Tour either ejecting or winning. Completely unsure if Matt Wallace is the worst good player or the best bad player in the field.
55. Justin Harding. WEIRD EURO TOUR TWITTER GET LOUD. Harding’s been running up a slew of nice finishes in second-tier Euro Tour events for most of the start of the year. Won the Qatar Masters and finished 2nd in the MAGICAL KENYA OPEN.
54. Kevin Na. I’m prepared to argue there is no man more fascinating in professional sports to watch gesticulate through a competitive weekend than Kevin Na. We stan a king that has been completely broken by the neurosis of individual sport, but is still somehow out here anyway.
53. Emiliano Grillo. Sure!
52. Shane Lowry. Has flirted with a couple majors, but not as much of late. Best known for swearing on a Honda Classic broadcast.
51. Keegan Bradley. Finally recovering from the anchoring ban, but not sure Augusta’s ever going to be the place he’s built for.
50. Patrick Reed. Let’s establish a couple of things. Patrick Reed has largely been booty for the majority of 2019, and repeating at The Masters is extremely hard. Good news though: he’ll have a seat right up close to the action on Sunday AND he won’t have to pay $600 for it.
49. Aaron Wise. Young and talented enough to win. Probably not enough experience yet.
48. Tyrell Hatton. A trendy pick to win last year’s green jacket, but hasn’t been in-form now for quite sometime. Hatton will eventually get his major, just not this week.
47. Si Woo Kim. Had a strong week in San Antonio coming in, and showed last year in The Players that pressure doesn’t really register. Has enough talent to contend here.
46. Kiradech Apibarnrat. His T-3 finish in Mexico is enough to say a win isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Let us all dream of our beloved hypebeast rocking the Green Jacket over a Supreme tee.
45. Alex Noren. Our Extremely Handsome Swede has fallen off the pace of his career years in 2017 and 2018. It’s not out of the question that he can contend, though.
44. Lucas Bjerregaard. Beat Tiger last month in the Match Play. Hits it far! Naturally likeable! Another guy where I could have 3.5 beers and then articulate a case for him to be within three shots at the start of the day on Sunday. Perhaps a good value betting pick, if you’re into that sort of thing.
43. Branden Grace. First guy I think I’m dangerously under-ranking here. We’re still just some 20-months removed from his 62 in the 2017 Open, and he’s got a pair of top-ten finishes since the start of the year.
42. Billy Horschel. Get this: Hilly Borschel.
41. Eddie Pepperell. I’ll get serious and stop mailing it in for a half-second. I debated this one for awhile. Would make Pepperell a dark-horse pick in a major in 2019 in a heartbeat, but feels like he’s more suited to a US Open or Open Championship — rather than trying to bludgeon Augusta to death. Still need Eddie live-tweeting a Champions Dinner, though.
Old man who’s going to linger around and then fight you, maybe
40. Vijay Singh. Sure, yes, Vijay can still play. He can also kick your ass.
Good enough to win and it wouldn’t be weird
39. Matt Fitzpatrick. Matty Fitz hasn’t really ever quite blossomed into the star some thought he might be when turning pro at a young age out of England, but we might be turning a corner. He won at Crans-Montana last fall, then almost added a win at Bay Hill to the resume in March. Join me in having two beers later tonight and talking yourself into this.
38. Rafa Cabrera-Bello. Will finish T-17, just as he has for every big tournament over the last four years.
37. Haotong Li. Just as it was last year, the best possible outcome for golf that doesn’t involve a Tiger Woods win at Augusta is a Haotong Li win at Augusta.
36. Charles Howell III. The amount of money CH3’s made without ever finishing in the top-ten in a major championship is absolutely mind-boggling. There’s few stories that would be better than picking up a green jacket in his hometown after such a long wait.
35. J.B. Holmes. Better for all involved if he slides out of the picture this week. That is, unless you like six-hour rounds.
34. Webb Simpson. If he wins, has already pledged to name his daughter after one of three local Augusta hotel chains!
33. Brandt Snedeker. Completely replacement-level start to the year, but generally fares well at Augusta. 33 seems right, sure, fine.
32. Henrik Stenson. Hasn’t ever played particularly well at Augusta historically, despite his next-level ballstriking. Coming off an injury-riddled 2018 season, too.
31. Hideki Matsuyama. If you wanted to argue that Hideki was the world’s best player in late 2017, you would’ve had a compelling argument. He was ranked 2nd in the world, and no one anywhere across the globe was in better form. Then injuries derailed the start of a 2018 that never got back on track.
30. Ian Poulter. The man, like it or not, deserves a major championship. It’s probably unlikely here, but a nice run of top-10s to start the year doesn’t put it out of the question.
29. Patrick Cantlay. See above, but younger. For no concrete or data-driven reason, Cantlay seems like a player that has a better shot to grind out a US Open than win at Augusta.
28. Charley Hoffman. You know the Thursday-Friday drill, we don’t need to discuss this ranking further.
27. Cameron Smith. The young Aussie snuck in with a backdoor top-five last year here, and has turned in a couple of top-tens at Torrey and at the WGC-Mexico.
26. Tony Finau. Finau’s quickly becoming The Guy Who’s Picked By The Guy In Your Office Pool Who Likes To Flex His Sports Knowledge, But Doesn’t Actually Watch Golf. I get it! Finau has the whole talent package, he’s likeable, he can dunk a basketball, and he’s making a habit of hanging around in majors. He’s also never won a real, full-field PGA Tour event!
Low Am, and actually in the coverage
25. Viktor Hovland. HI HELLO, YES, I CAN DO THIS IF I WANT TO. ‘HOV’ — WHICH YES — WE WILL CALL HIM THAT, AND WE WILL FORCE IT UNTIL IT STICKS — IS THE SECOND BEST PLAYER ON THE BEST COLLEGE GOLF TEAM EVER. I CAN RANK A NORWEGIAN AMATEUR TEEN ABOVE SEVERAL MAJOR WINNERS, INCLUDING THE REINING CHAMPION. WHY DO YOU CARE? YOU STOPPED READING THIS SEVERAL PARAGRAPHS AGO. IF CASEY WITTENBERG’S NIKE TOUR LEVEL ASS CAN FINISH T-13 AT AUGUSTA, SO CAN A DUDE WHO HAS SUPERSTAR POTENTIAL WRITTEN ALL OVER HIM.
Guys that actually could win, but probably won’t
24. Bryson DeChambeau. [REDACTED]
23. Gary Woodland. I’m becoming slowly more and more enamored with the idea of Gary Woodland at modern major championships. Augusta puts such a high premium on driving the golf ball well that any player of Woodland’s ilk is going to be in a strong position.
22. Kevin Kisner. Winning at Augusta would be great for the story. Kiz grew up right across the state line in Aiken, South Carolina — but his strengths are far better suited to a different type of a golf course.
21. Adam Scott. Could he make enough clutch putts down the stretch of a major after the rule change? I don’t know, maybe.
20. Jordan Spieth. Let’s be clear: There’s no justifiable reason to keep Jordan Spieth this close to the top of a field rank right now anywhere but Augusta National. Spieth, without the ability to putt at an elite level, becomes a middle-tier tour pro. He’s not a 90th percentile ballstriker, he doesn’t hit it miles past the others. And right now, that’s what Jordan Spieth has been for the last handful of months — a forgettable, average tour pro. But one good week at one course that brings out good memories is enough to flip that. That’s why it’s not worth writing him off just yet.
19. Xander Schauffele. As good as a start to this PGA Tour season as anyone, and he’s got a game built for Augusta — hit it hard, long, and high.
18. Jason Day. If he’s increased the Emergen-C dosage this week, his game’s starting to round into form a bit. A more outside shot than others, but I think he’s set up to surprise this week.
17. Jon Rahm. No question that the talent’s there, but can he survive the mental pressure cooker of a major championship Sunday?
16. Marc Leishman. Too talented, here too often, too steady to not eventually get one of these. If you want a sleeper this week, ride with Leish.
15. Phil Mickelson. I’ll admit this is probably a touch on the high side, but Phil’s win in Pebble should give some hope that he’s still capable of pulling it together. He’s still hitting the ball as long as he ever has, despite the fact he’s been a bit of a mini-slump since that win in February. There’s no question he can still get it around at Augusta… but his chances to add another green jacket are numbered.
14. Sergio Garcia. VAMOS! Our praxis-loving, green-destroying, wealth-redistributing man of the proletariat is circling into form just in time to contend at Augusta. While the negative headlines might have you think Sergio’s in some sort of spin cycle, he’s actually playing pretty good golf! He’s had 10 top-10 finishes worldwide over his last 14 starts. He’s also [squints] uh, been disqualified for destroying green complexes with his putter in Saudi Arabia.
13. Rickie Fowler. It’s been a banner year for Motocross Chris Kirk already, falling butt-first into his 5th career PGA Tour title earlier this season in Phoenix. It’s a huge week and opportunity for Fowler: If he’s able to get things done this week, he’ll pull even with Bill Haas, Jeff Sluman, and Rory Sabbatini on the all-time wins list.
12. Bubba Watson. Playing just good enough to either miss the cut by seven shots or do this again, you pick.
The #Masters Countdown – 5⃣Days – 2012 Bubba
Bubba Watson provided one of the most improbable recovery shots on the first playoff hole of the 2012 Masters, hitting a 40 yard hook to within 10 feet. He made par, and defeated Louis Oosthuizen to claim his first green jacket! pic.twitter.com/ltyd6bDABw
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) April 6, 2019
11. Brooks Koepka. The most exhausting, tiresome theme you’re going to hear all week is the discussion of Brooks Koepka’s weight. In short, the reigning US Open and PGA Champ lost 24 pounds and significant energy over a period of time because he took a low-caloric diet too far. There’s been speculation from some that this was in prep for an ESPN Body Issue, but Koepka’s also mentioned having some blood work done as well. We’ve now entered the phase in the take-industrial complex where Brandel’s now yelling about this ad nauseum. A thought: Brooks Koepka is a grown-ass man who won half of last year’s majors! If he wants to lose some weight for whatever reason he chooses, it’s his business and not ours.
10. Louis Oosthuizen. This is something of a flier, but we’re overdue for Shrek to cash in on another major. There’s no swing in the game as aesthetically pleasing to watch, and he’d be well-deserving of a second major title. He’s coming off back-to-back top fives, and onto a course where he lost in a playoff to Bubba in 2012.
9. Tommy Fleetwood. Coming in at nine seems low for Fleetwood, but that’s just testament to how well positioned a few above him might be coming into the week. Tommy’s too skilled to go much longer without a major title, but his ballstriking and ability to thrive in difficult conditions might set him up better to get his first title later on in the year.
8. Francesco Molinari. Make it simple: We’re months removed from the Open, and I could still perhaps make the case that Molinari might be the best player in the world at the moment. Still, he’s probably better suited for the Opens rather than Augusta..
7. Justin Thomas. Flip the coin from Molinari? There’s few players in concept that should be suited better to Augusta than JT. He hits it long, high, and far — perfect for this setup.
6. Paul Casey. Might this be the year that he finally breaks through at a major? There’s maybe not a better chance than right now. Casey’s always fared extremely well at Augusta no matter the circumstances (3 top-6 finishes in the last four years), and he’s possibly playing some of the best golf of his life right now coming into the event.
5. Tiger Woods. Finally, I’m in. Last year I discounted the seriousness of Tiger’s ability to contend at the early-year majors. Now, with a year under his belt and consistently returning to contention — including of late? There’s no one better at this track.
4. Dustin Johnson. Might this be the year to avenge the loose rug at the top of the stairs. I’m not sure DJ fits perfectly for Augusta, but his length and skill will keep him in play.
3. Matt Kuchar. Quick: Can you name the name at the top of the FedEx Cup standings in 2019? I’ll give you a tip: It’s Kuchar. He’s got two wins, is having a fantastic year. You’ve certainly got to think he’s shown some gratuity to his team for helping set up this great success. If you’re able to make a play on him come this weekend, it might pay off.
2. Justin Rose. The gold standard for professional golf, right now. No one more consistent, never completely out of it. Still looking to avenge his loss to Sergio from 2017. This might be the year to do it.
1. Rory McIlroy. Let’s make it simple; There’s no one playing better right now than Rory. The start of his 2019’s been phenomenal, he’s just won the The Players, everything seems to finally be moving together. There’s no question: The betting favorite should be the man that can cap off his career grand slam on Sunday.