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MASTERS '20: A capsule look at 10 contenders for the Masters

MASTERS '20: A capsule look at 10 contenders for the Masters

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — A capsule look at 10 contenders for the Masters, to be played Thursday through Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club. Players listed in the order of predicted finish:


Age: 27.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 7.

Worldwide wins: 5.

Majors: None.

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T10, U.S. Open-5.

Best of 2020: Having the lowest score at the Tour Championship and still finishing second because of the staggered start.

Masters memory: Sharing the lead with four holes to play in 2019 and failing to birdie the par-5 15th while closing with four pars to finish one shot behind.

Backspin: He plays the majors as well as Brooks Koepka minus the trophies. He has finished in the top 10 at seven of his 13 majors, with two runner-up finishes. His California chill hides a fierce game. Last year showed he is ready for the next step.


Age: 27.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 6.

Worldwide wins: 8.

Majors: U.S. Open (2020).

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T4, U.S. Open-Won.

Best of 2020: Winning his first major at Winged Foot with a U.S. Open strategy that showed he sometimes knows what he’s talking about.

Masters memory: A tie for 21st in 2016 to be the low amateur. That’s still his best finish in three Masters appearances.

Backspin: He might be getting more attention than Tiger Woods going into the Masters for the way he added nearly 50 pounds of mass to support his effort to swing as hard as possible. He wants to have a 48-inch driver in play for the Masters. He already has hit a 400-yard drive at home and plans to dismantle Augusta National with length. He still has to chip and putt, which he did exceedingly well at the U.S. Open.


Age: 36.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 1.

Worldwide wins: 23.

Majors: U.S. Open (2016).

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T6, U.S. Open-T2.

Best of 2020: Winning the FedEx Cup for the first time and being voted PGA Tour player of the year for the second time.

Masters memory: That tumble down the stairs that forced him to withdraw in 2017 when he had won his previous three tournaments and was the overwhelming favorite.

Backspin: Johnson comes in with a little less competition than he planned because of his positive test for the coronavirus that knocked him out of Shadow Creek and Sherwood. His runner-up last year was his best chance at winning, an experience that can only help him going forward. Having only one major grates at him.


Age: 31.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 5.

Worldwide wins: 26.

Majors: U.S. Open (2011), British Open (2014), PGA Championship (2012, 2014).

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T33, U.S. Open-T8.

Best of 2020: On the course, anything before golf shut down in March because of the pandemic. Off the course, the birth of his daughter.

Masters memory: Taking a four-shot lead into the final round in 2011 and shooting 80.

Backspin: This is his sixth time coming to the Masters with a chance to complete the career Grand Slam. What helps this year is not having the intense scrutiny on him because of the strange year brought on by the pandemic. What doesn’t help is having only two top 10s in 12 starts since golf resumed in June.


Age: 28.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 9.

Worldwide wins: 3.

Majors: None.

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T43, U.S. Open-T43.

Best of 2020: Ending 16 months without a victory by rallying to win the Zozo Championship at Sherwood.

Masters memory: Making eagle on the 15th hole in 2019 to take the lead, only to drop shots on each of the next two holes.

Backspin: There is no big weakness in his game except for not winning enough. What should help him at this Masters is the experience of contending last year and the experiencing of winning in his final start before going to Augusta.


Age: 26 (on Tuesday).

Country: Spain.

World ranking: 2.

Worldwide wins: 11.

Majors: None.

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T13, U.S. Open-T23.

Best of 2020: Reaching No. 1 in the world for the first time by winning the Memorial, and making a 65-foot birdie putt to win at Olympia Fields for his first FedEx Cup playoff win.

Masters memory: Shootig 65 in the third round to give himself a chance in 2018, and still in the mix until hitting into the water on the 15th hole Sunday.

Backspin:Winning a major is the next step for the big Spaniard, the guess would be sooner rather than later. He has won multiple times worldwide in each of his four full years as a pro.


Age: 27.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide wins: 14.

Majors: PGA Championship (2017).

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T37, U.S. Open-T8.

Best of 2020: Winning multiple tournaments for the fourth consecutive years.

Masters memory: Being paired with Jordan Spieth in the final round when Spieth went from nine shots behind to a tie for the lead with a birdie on the 16th hole in 2018. He’s still waiting for a great memory of his own.

Backspin: After a lull in August in which he finished no better than 25th in three big events, Thomas appears to be trending in the right direction going to Augusta. He has yet to finish in the top 10 in his four previous appearances.


Age: 44.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 32.

Worldwide wins: 93.

Majors: Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019), U.S. Open (2000, 2002, 2008), British Open (2000, 2005, 2006), PGA Championship (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007).

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T37, U.S. Open-Cut.

Best of 2020: Breaking par all four rounds at Torrey Pines to tie for ninth. It was the only time all year he finished in the top 10.

Masters memory: Winning in 2019 to end 11 years without a major, 14 years without a Masters, capping off a return from four back surgeries and being able to share the moment with his two children.

Backspin: This is the first year Woods has failed to contend in any tournament when he wasn’t injured. He went five months without playing because of the pandemic, and he has played consecutive weeks on only one occasion as he limits his competition.


Age: 30.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 12.

Worldwide wins: 10.

Majors: U.S. Open (2017, 2018), PGA Championship (2018, 2019).

2020 majors: PGA Championship-T29, U.S. Open-DNP.

Best of 2020: Two shots off the lead going into the final round at Harding Park with a chance to become the first player to win the PGA Championship three straight years in stroke play. He didn’t make birdie until the 12th hole, shot 74 and tied for 29th.

Masters memory: Bouncing back from a double bogey in the water on No. 12 to an eagle on the 13th and finishing one shot behind Tiger Woods.

Backspin: With the pandemic and injuries, Koepka has spent more time at home than at tournaments. He started the year at No. 1 and goes into the Masters at No. 12. In 14 tournaments this year, he has only had a chance to win the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He drove into the water on the 18th and tied for second.


Age: 23.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 4.

Worldwide wins: 3.

Majors: PGA Championship (2020).

2020 majors: PGA Championship-Won, U.S. Open-Cut.

Best of 2020: Making a 25-foot birdie putt to stay alive in a playoff he won at Muirfield Village, and then winning his first major a month later at Harding Park.

Masters memory: This is his first appearance. He was 2 months old when Tiger Woods won his first Masters.

Backspin: He has a chance to join an elite group if he were to win the Masters. In the last 100 years, the only players with two majors at age 23 or younger were Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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