It was hard to leave many of these players out of our opening round choice for this year’s Masters Tournament. Though form going into Augusta is essential, it has been known for players to turn things around during tournament week… Charl Schwartzel in 2011 comes to mind!
Yet to win since the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open in 2016 and has suffered three play-off losses (to Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson and Max Homa). Finau has posted eight Major top tens and has a top-5 in each of them including his front row seat for Tiger’s win in 2019. Has finished runner-up three times so far this year.
Since August he’s won two huge European Tour events at Wentworth and Abu Dhabi, but missed the cut at the US Open, US PGA, Masters and The Players – which is a worrying trend of misses at the biggest US-based tournaments. Yet to crack the top-40 at Augusta in four starts.
A future Ryder Cup star, Hovland has been Europe’s breakout star over the past couple of years with two wins on the PGA Tour. He’s been a pillar of consistency this season with four top tens including a share of second at the WGC in Florida. A missed cut at The Players is the only blotch on his report card.
This year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner is usually rock-solid with the irons and is looking to do what Willett (’16) and Garcia (’17) did and follow victory in Dubai with a first Green Jacket. T5 at The Players with some superb ball-striking will give him confidence.
A perennial underachiever in the Majors but has been in red-hot form recently and knows the course as well as anybody in the field. Making his 20th appearance, twice a runner-up including 2010 when he held the 54-hole lead before succumbing to Phil Mickelson. Wore himself out over the Florida swing with back-to-back second place finishes at Bay Hill and The Players, will be hoping to peak again for Augusta.
Hard to believe last year’s DP World Tour Championship winner only has one career top-ten in a Major, which came in his first professional outing at Augusta in 2016. Has never missed the cut and has been impressive this year with top tens at Riviera, Bay Hill and Sawgrass.
Yet to hit top form this season after falling away in the final round in Abu Dhabi. A top ten at Bay Hill was followed by a missed cut at The Players. Fifth Masters but is still to crack the top ten.
Has been out of sorts this year after top fives at the US Open and US PGA last year. Missed the cut on debut in November but that was only his third career Major start. Barely featured on leaderboards this year and Augusta is an unforgiving place for the out-of-form.
In 20 competitive rounds at Augusta Horschel is yet to break 70. A runner-up finish to Morikawa at the WGC at the Concession was followed by a missed cut at Bay Hill and 58th at The Players.
Has maintained his position inside the top 20 in the world rankings since his runner-up finish on Masters debut last November. Rarely takes a week off and rarely misses the cut. Found the soft conditions to his liking but an April Masters is a totally different proposition.
The putter is Hideki’s long-term Achilles heel. If that behaves he should be a factor – but will it? Has only finished outside the top 20 once since 2015.
Came out of lockdown firing last summer with a win and a string of top-5s but wasn’t exempt for the November Masters, with the field already locked from earlier in the year. Won his fourth PGA Tour title at Pebble Beach in February and finished tenth on his Augusta debut in 2016.
Shared the runner-up spot with Im five months ago and also has a T5 finish here back in 2018. Two wins on Tour and a couple in his native Australia, Smith is a steady competitor and a return of fourth at Riveira is his best result so far this season.
Such an intriguing player that is still yet to win a title on American soil. Has been runner-up in all the Majors, the first of which was a play-off loss to Bubba Watson here in 2012. Hasn’t missed the weekend since 2013 and should play well with solid performances under his belt at the WGC-Workday and Phoenix Open. Finished third at last year’s US Open. Always an under-the-radar threat.
Former World No.1 and 2015 US PGA Champion has four Augusta top tens but his form is nothing to shout about. Dropped out of the top 50 in the world last year and climbed back into it with a string of top tens including 4th at the US PGA. A share of 7th at Pebble Beach represents his best result of 2021.
Part of the same 2017 Walker Cup team that included Morikawa, Cam Champ and Will Zalatoris, 24-year-old Scheffler was runner-up at last year’s Tour Championship and posted his first career top-5 in a WGC at The Concession earlier this year.
Has openly admitted in the past that Augusta is too long for him has has a career-best finish of T21 here in 2019. Never carded anything lower than a 3-under-par 69 in five appearances.
Only one missed cut in 15 appearances and has had a smattering of close calls – notably four years ago when Garcia outlasted him in a play-off. Rose has been battling a lack of consistency lately but did post a runner-up finish in Saudi Arabia earlier this season. Missed events at Bay Hill and The Players with niggling injury.
Has an eye for the big occasion with a runner-up at Wentworth and top tens at the DP World Tour Championship and Players Championship in the last six months. Guided by Rory McIlroy’s former bagman J.P Fitzgerald, Perez is making his second appearance.
Has done little of note since a 4th place finish in Hawaii in January. A hot and cold player with five PGA Tour wins to his name and a pair of Augusta top-tens. He arrived at November’s Masters bang out of form (MC-52-70) and finished 13th, shooting par or better all four days. A definite sleeper.
This year’s winner at Riviera is also a past champion at Quail Hollow – both Major venues in their own right. Homa missed the cut in November but the confident Californian also has top tens at Pebble Beach and Bay Hill in the last few months.
A former Open winner with a WGC title to his name and a near miss at the US Open, Lowry’s record at Augusta suggests he’s least suited to this of all the Majors. Three missed cuts out of five and a best finish of T25 which came last year with rounds of 74-69-68-73. Since Portrush victory in 2019 he’s had only three top tens worldwide.