Experts' Picks, The Masters Edition

April, 6, 2011
04/06/11
8:10
AM ET

Each week in the PGA Tour season, our panel of experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: Birdie Buster, Horse for the Course, Super Sleeper and Winner.

This week's tournament: The Masters at Augusta National

Want another opinion? Check out ESPN.com's FOREcaster page.

ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig

Horse for the Course: Tiger Woods
In addition to his four victories, Woods has never finished worse than a tie for 22nd. Since winning his fourth green jacket in 2005, he has gone 3, 2, 2, 6, 4.

Birdie Buster: Phil Mickelson
He's coming off an impressive victory in Houston, where he shot 20 under par, including 16 under on the weekend. Lefty made 18 birdies on Saturday and Sunday to win his 39th PGA Tour title.

Super Sleeper: : Justin Rose
He didn't play in last year's Masters, but the Englishman has been in contention at Augusta in the past, tying for fifth in 2007. Since missing last year's tournament, he has won twice on the PGA Tour.

Winner: : Nick Watney
The three-time PGA Tour winner had an impressive victory at Doral last month and has been out of the top 10 just once this year, a tie for 13th at the Transitions Championship. His struggles at Whistling Straits in August should help him if he gets in the mix again.


ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire

Birdie Buster: Tiger Woods
Maybe this should be labeled "eagle-buster"? Woods had four of them last year in finishing T-4, so if he can avoid some of those bogeys, a fifth green jacket certainly isn't out of the question.

Horse for the Course: Anthony Kim
Nothing in this category says he has to know this course really well, right? In eight Masters rounds, AK has shot 65 twice, including a Masters-record 11 birdies in his second competitive round ever at Augusta National.

Super Sleeper: : Trevor Immelman
The 2008 Masters champ hasn't had a top-10 since September 2008 after struggling through injuries. But even during his woes, he's posted some of his best finishes at Augusta National.

Winner: : Justin Rose
He's not the Brit most are picking, but he has played well recently and has never missed a Masters cut. Oh, and he's one of the best ball strikers in the field this week.


ESPN.com golf writer and blogger Jason Sobel

Horse for the Course: Phil Mickelson
Eight top-10s in the past decade. Three wins in the past seven years. Yeah, it's safe to say Augusta National suits Lefty's game just fine -- and coming off a win in Houston, it would only be shocking if he isn't in the mix come Sunday.

Birdie Buster: Matt Kuchar
Riddle me this, Statman: How come Kuch -- with top-10 results in exactly half of his past 34 official PGA Tour events -- is never mentioned in discussions of the world's best players? He loves this course and has success dating back to a T-21 as an amateur.

Super Sleeper: : Peter Uihlein
You can count on one hand the number of amateurs who have reached the weekend at Augusta in the past two decades. This Oklahoma State junior won't contend, but growing up around the game's greats ensures he won't be intimidated this week. Keep another finger handy, because you might be able to count on one more amateur making the cut this week.

Winner: : Paul Casey
Call it a hunch, but it just feels like the time is right for Casey to win a big one. He is the rare player whose game is suited to win any of the four majors, but his high shot trajectory should suit him well at Augusta. Confidence and a solid short game don't hurt, either.

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