AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If I had hair, I'd be sitting here in the media center at Augusta National pulling it out. This might have been the most difficult Masters top 25 I've ever had to do. I can make an argument for everyone inside the top 15 to win or finish runner-up, but I can also make an argument for everyone outside the top 17 to miss the cut.
I know that seems ridiculous, but to be honest, my head is pounding because of how varied the field is this year. Enjoy this year's list. I'm going to find a quiet, shaded tree on the back nine. I need a nap.
25. Patrick Reed
After watching him at WGC-Match Play, Reed's game is ready for Augusta. He was very frustrated after the loss to Dustin Johnson. "I played really well," Reed told me.
24. Angel Cabrera
If there's one guy you expect to see on a leaderboard at a major, it's Cabrera. With his history at Augusta, I don't imagine he will finish outside the top 25.
23. Matt Kuchar
Everything is clicking between Kuchar and his new caddie, John Wood. Augusta is a place that tests the trust and teamwork of a caddie and player. These two will find success this week.
22. Ian Poulter
Is there a correlation between the pressure to make the Ryder Cup team and Poulter's solid play as of late? I believe there is, and this week will be a huge step toward his ultimate goal of making that team.
21. Dustin Johnson
It's late in the season for Johnson not to have a win, but his game has started to become pretty consistent recently. He just doesn't have great track record at Augusta National.
20. Sergio Garcia
Guess who played a practice round with first-time Masters competitor Jim Herman on Tuesday? Sergio. By showing the Masters rookie the little nuances of the course, "paying it forward" will come back to Garcia this week. Good karma.
19. Brandt Snedeker
Snedecker started the calendar year off on fire with two top 5s and a win at the Farmers, then cooled for a bit. With a T-9 at the Match Play, Snedecker is trending up. Perhaps the demons of 2008 have been fully exorcised.
18. Hideki Matsuyama
Matsuyama has a win already this year at the Phoenix Open and had success at Augusta last year by finishing fifth. This year he could put a little too much pressure on himself to finish higher on the leaderboard.
17. Zach Johnson
This generation's greatest grinder comes into the tournament with a fifth-place finish at Bay Hill and a T-9 at the Match Play. Playing here as the "Champion golfer of 2015" for winning The Open last year, Johnson will have an extra bit of inspiration.
16. Paul Casey
Casey might be the most underrated player in the field. Four finishes inside the top 11 at this event combined with two top 10s in his last three starts, Casey might be the "sleeper" I missed.
15. Rickie Fowler
Everyone says, "He can't be part of 'The Big 3' because he doesn't have a major." I laugh at that. Fowler has a big enough game. And do you see any kids dressing like Day or McIlroy? Me neither.
14. Bill Haas
Haas and new caddie Lance Bennett have hit their proverbial stride coming into this week off a playoff loss in Tampa and a top-10 finish at the Match Play. Haas' best finish here came last year with a T-12.
13. Brooks Koepka
Last year this guy could barely walk, so I asked, "Why are you playing if you're hurt?" He looked at me as if it were the silliest question he had ever heard. "I'm playing if someone has to carry me. It's the Masters," Koepka said. He finished T-33. This year, he's not hurt.
12. Henrik Stenson
Stenson has finished inside the top 20 the last three times he has teed it up at Augusta. Now, he comes in off a close call in Houston firing on all cylinders. If he finishes 12th, it would be his best finish at the Masters.
11. Danny Willett
Last year was Willett's Masters debut, and he finished T-38. This year he would be the reigning Race to Dubai champ if not for a "special exception" given to Rory McIlroy, who took the title. Willett has quietly become the best golfer you've never heard of.
10. Jordan Spieth
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. To follow up the epic year Spieth had in 2015 is all but impossible. A top-10 finish should not be considered a failure.
Many are picking Oosthuizen to win or calling him the favorite, and I understand why. But since his runner-up finish to Bubba Watson in 2012, he hasn't sniffed a top 10, which is why I have him slotted here.
8. Ryan Moore
Here's my big surprise in the top 10. Moore has three top-10 finishes in his last four starts, and last year finished T-12 here. He was the first pro to play the new PXG irons, and they are still working well for him.
The South African already has one green jacket but has not finished inside the top 25 since that victory. We'll consider a seventh-place finish a win.
6. Justin Rose
Pacing yourself is important, especially for someone whose schedule will be loaded later in the year. It's paying off so far for Rose, even if not with wins. Most have also forgotten his runner-up finish here last year. Oops.
Call it voodoo, call it magic, call it belief; whatever you call it, believe it when Mickelson gets on this piece of property and something special happens with him.
4. Adam Scott
To the people who snickered when the new year rolled around and thought Scott and Bernhard Langer were finished because of the anchor ban, I'll have some choice words. Oddly it won't be his putting that keeps him from winning his second green jacket, but he could get close.
3. Jason Day
Playing as world No. 1 and owning the last major can be a heavy burden. It's not too much for Day to handle, however, and he will win the Masters one day. Just not this year.
2. Bubba Watson
It seems so long ago that he won at Riviera in Los Angeles, but it was less than a month ago. The hardest thing this week for Bubba will be to block out all the talk of how this course sets up so perfectly for him.
1. Rory McIlroy
It's ironic how quiet the talk has been about McIlroy winning his first green jacket. That's exactly why he'll win. No pressure of being "the guy" and completing the career Grand Slam. McIlroy better send thank you cards to Spieth, Day, Scott, and Watson for all their help taking the pressure off.