2021 Masters predictions, favorites: Ranking the field from 1-88 at Augusta National
It’s that time again. Specifically, it’s time to rank the entire field of 2021 Masters participants from 1-88. While this is a hurclean and somewhat-impossible task that has the potential to make me look silly before Moving Day even commences, presented below is a comprehensive ranking of who I believe is most likely to win the 85th Masters based on all the evidence we have entering the week.
The list is put together with plenty of consideration. Recent form, past history at this tournament and intuition based on how each golfer’s game matches up to what I envision from a Masters champion all play a role in this evaluation. Much of the statistical data is pulled from Data Golf and concentrates on ball-striking from the last 2-3 months leading into the Masters, which in the past has been a nice indicator of who will win the tournament.
Dustin Johnson leads the list following his victory in November 2020 at Augusta National. He takes the top spot from Bryson DeChambeau; though his ceiling here is insanely high, DeChambeau has yet to finish in the top 10 at this tournament. Those two switch spots from November while Jon Rahm stays put at No. 2. Jordan Spieth makes the biggest leap of any of the contenders, going from No. 29 just five months ago to No. 4 entering this week following his Texas Open win.
Let’s dive headfirst into the list of 88 from most likely to win the Masters to the least, and you can also take a look at a full slate of 2021 Masters odds provided by William Hill Sportsbook.
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2021 Masters field, ranked
1. Dustin Johnson (Best finish — Won in 2020): Only Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods have ever gone back to back. D.J. would fit nicely on that list. Though his putter has been ice-cold so far this year, his history at Augusta National is a joke. He’s defeated nearly everyone he’s faced here over the last five years.
2. Jon Rahm (4th in 2018): Top 10s in each of his last three here, and now that Baby Rahm has arrived, there are some real “Danny Willett in 2016” vibes going on. He’s one of just three golfers gaining two or more strokes per round from tee to green since Feb. 1 (Collin Morikawa and Sergio Garcia are the others), which portends well for Masters week.
3. Bryson DeChambeau (T21 in 2016): You’ll see takes this week about how Bryson’s 2020 performance proves that you just can’t bring a place like Augusta National to its knees. While it’s true that Bryson won’t win every tournament he plays, that doesn’t mean his style won’t work here. It will — just not every year. All he really did over the last year is increase his odds of winning by a couple of percentage points at every major. By the end of his career, that might be worth an extra major or two (which is a lot!). Being the longest player in the field plays anywhere in the world, and if he can get the short game rolling like he did at Winged Foot, he’ll contend for his second major win here. That’s a big “if,” though considering how much he’s struggled with his wedges and putter (his best putting performance at Augusta National came in November when he was about field average).
4. Jordan Spieth (Won in 2015): Since Feb. 1, Spieth is third in the world in strokes gained on approach shots. The only two golfers ahead of him are the two best iron players in the world: Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa. I’m hesitant to go too far out on a limb here, but I think Spieth might win the 2021 Masters by at least 15 strokes.
5. Justin Thomas (4th in 2020): In one of my favorite stats of this year’s Masters, J.T. has improved his finish at this tournament every year in which he’s played. From T39 to T22 to T17 to T12 to 4th at last year’s event behind D.J., Cam Smith and Sungjae Im. Plus, there won’t be any water to flirt with on No. 18 if he has a slim lead at the very end, although that running hook might end up in a urinal up the left-hand side of the last hole if that’s the shot with which he goes.
6. Collin Morikawa (T44 in 2020): After an incredibly consistent early start to his career, Morikawa has become a bit more volatile. He won the PGA last year but missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Then he won the WGC in February but missed the cut at The Players Championship. I actually don’t mind this volatility because it can lead to a lot of big wins, and he does what you need to do best at Augusta National — hit irons like lasers shot out of a silo — better than anybody else on Earth.
7. Patrick Cantlay (T9 in 2019): He’s very Xander Schauffele-like in that if there are holes in his game, you have to squint pretty hard to find them. I’ve always envisioned him winning a U.S. Open before I’ve envisioned him winning a Masters, but he’s an absolute monster on par 5s (T4 on the PGA Tour last season), which is obviously important at Augusta National.
8. Rory McIlroy (4th in 2015): I’m guessing you did not know that McIlroy’s best finish here came on the same week as Jordan Spieth’s coronation. He has six top 10s in the last seven years, but he has also never finished closer than six strokes back of the eventual champ (which he did exactly in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018). Through a decade of futility with Rory at Augusta National, I remain — if this is possible — 100% convinced and 100% unconvinced that he will win this tournament and finish off the career slam.
9. Xander Schauffele (T2 in 2019): Perhaps I’m naive, but it still feels like there’s a bit of, “Yeah, sure sure, but I want to see it” here than there is with some of the other guys in the top 10. Maybe that’s unfair, but Schauffele has not exactly been slamming doors like Troy Percival of late. Still, he has six top 10s in his last 11 major championships.
10. Viktor Hovland (T32 in 2019): I wonder how many players have reached the top 15 in the world before they played in their first Masters as a professional. Hovland is a really interesting sleeper pick this week given his success here as an amateur (T35 in 2019) and the development of his game since then (fourth from tee to green over the last two months). This will be the first time Hovland, Morikawa and Matthew Wolff have all played in the same Masters.
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11. Tony Finau (T5 in 2019): The longest con of all time is about to be unveiled. Finau will lead this thing by two on Saturday night and shoot a 65 with D.J., J.T. and Spieth trying to run him down. The ensuing takes will provide electricity for small countries around the globe for weeks. He’s 2-for-3 in top 10s here, and comes in under the radar despite being top five in strokes gained tee to green over the last two months.
12. Webb Simpson (T5 in 2019): I’ve never particularly loved Simpson on this course, but he’s now posted back-to-back top 10s in the last two years and is a real threat to win here because of his elite iron play. He said last year that he started playing Augusta National more conservatively than in the past — picking his spots better — and it’s made all the difference. You can see the result in that T5 in 2019 and T10 in 2020.
13. Paul Casey (T4 in 2016): The problem with 90% of these guys is that I find myself saying, “Is Paul Casey really going to win the Masters?” He could, of course. But really, is he going to? Brooks was right. Also, Casey has been the best player on the planet from tee to green in 2021.
14. Louis Oosthuizen (2nd in 2012): Always makes the cut — seven of his last eight — but hasn’t contended since 2012 when he lost to Bubba Watson in a playoff. I don’t know if it’s more surprising that Lee Westwood has just two PGA Tour wins or that Oosthuizen has just one (and it came 11 years ago … at a major).
15. Cameron Smith (T2 in 2020): The only golfers to finish in the top five in at least two of the last three Masters are Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and … Cameron Smith.
16. Sergio Garcia (Won in 2017): Historically underrated player who has also missed nine of his last 13 cuts at major championships since winning the 2017 Masters. It has been nearly four years since he’s finished in the top 50 at a major! However, I must have him in my top 20 because he’s been No. 2 in the world from tee to green for two months. Absolutely flushing it!
17. Jason Day (T2 in 2011): He may have had the quietest top five by a former No. 1 player in the world in Masters history back in 2019 when Tiger was doing his thing. I legitimately cannot remember seeing a single shot! One of just eight players with at least four top 10s in the last decade.
18. Bubba Watson (Won in 2012, 2014): Watson has kind of quietly amassed a pair of top-12 finishes in the last three years at Augusta. His recent results look like a Spieth roller coaster, but he’s legitimately dangerous here.
19. Patrick Reed (Won in 2018): He gets a small bump because he’s won here before, but that felt like a once-in-a-career thing, and Chase Seiffert has been better than him from tee to green over the last two months.
20. Tyrrell Hatton (T44 in 2018): Hatton feels a little Henrik Stenson-y to me. He’s obviously a tremendous player, but he hasn’t found a groove at the majors yet. He’ll likely have 2-3 opportunities to win one, but probably not more than that. Hopefully he takes advantage because he would be a really fun champ.
21. Will Zalatoris (n/a): The best player in the world you’ve never heard of. He’s 10th in approach shots over the last two months. That will play at Augusta National.
22. Tommy Fleetwood (T17 in 2018): For all his success at major championships, he’s never really thrived at Augusta National. This is a bit surprising given how good he is from tee to green. Could join Charl Schwartzel and Danny Willett as recent pros to get their first PGA Tour win at Augusta.
23. Adam Scott (Won in 2013): I’ll always be a sucker for him here, but his driver has really fallen off over the last two years. He’s nasty at majors, though. He has 15 top 10s in 39 majors since 2011.
24. Scottie Scheffler (T19 in 2020): Easily the highest-ranked player on here who has zero wins as a professional. Can you imagine getting your first at Augusta National? I do worry about the fact that he’s played 11 rounds in the last 14 days, and Augusta is not exactly the breeziest stroll.
25. Daniel Berger (T10 in 2016): How about this: Devon Bling has played in a Masters more recently than Berger, who missed the last two because he wasn’t ranked high enough to qualify. He has so few holes, and yet only a pair of top 10s at major championships.
26. Corey Conners (T10 in 2020): I absolutely love him to contend here because of how he hits it. I absolutely do not love him to win here because of how he putts it.
27. Joaquin Niemann (MC in 2018): Has yet to play this event as a professional. While I envision him as more of a U.S. Open guy, he’s been in the top 10 all year in total strokes gained. Fun dark-horse pick because he’s still unformed enough that you can easily envision him mixing it up with Rahm and Bryson on the weekend.
28. Matt Wallace (T46 in 2020): “Surprising flusher who gets to ride Texas Open momentum into Augusta” does not exclusively describe Jordan Spieth.
29. Brooks Koepka (T2 in 2019): As inconsistent as Koepka has been over the last 18 months, I recently began to believe in him at major championships again. If only because I actually believe his whole, Well you knock half the field out of it when you show up, they can’t win bit. However, the knee injury throws a wrench in things, and now it’s very difficult to imagine him contending when he’s saying that he’s trying to find flat stretches of land to walk on.
30. Matthew Fitzpatrick (T7 in 2016): I’m just not a believer. He’s fine. Good player. But it seems as if there’s a reason he’s 1-for-22 in top 10s at majors. The ball-striking just does not do it for me.
31. Matthew Wolff (MC in 2020): In theory, his ball flight is great here. In reality, he’s gone from being a top-10 driver on the PGA Tour to not even a top-100 driver on the PGA Tour. That’s not the end of the world for Augusta National, but the form is not all that sharp.
32. Hideki Matsuyama (5th in 2015): Has not finished in the top 10 in any major since … 2017.
33. Lee Westwood (2nd in 2010): I fear he peaked too early in the season. It’s difficult for aging former superstars to clamber around the summit more than once a year.
34. Sungjae Im (T2 in 2020): I have to confess I was stunned to be introduced to the reality that Sungjae finished runner-up at last year’s Masters. I somehow completely blocked that one out of my memory. Must have been the home-game effect for the new Atlanta resident. He’s been elite with his driver (1st in the world) and horrific with his irons (136th) over the last few months.
35. Max Homa (MC in 2020): The dirty little secret of Homa’s emergence as the people’s champ is that he’s become really good at professional golf. Homa is no longer the one-hit wonder who’s fun to follow on Twitter, and he popped on the west coast with not only a victory at Riviera but was also one of just 11 golfers to gain two strokes per round over the first two months of the season.
36. Phil Mickelson (Won in 2004, 2006, 2010): He’s been quietly flushing it for a month. A fast and firm course will play into his hands. My interest is piqued.
37. Justin Rose (2nd in 2017): Steve Stricker has played better golf for most of 2021 than Justin Rose. To be fair to Rose, Steve Stricker has played pretty good golf. To be fair to Stricker, he’s 54 years old and the captain of the Ryder Cup team.
38. Gary Woodland (T24 in 2011): I respect the pedigree, but he’s never popped at Augusta National. And like Matthew Wolff, he’s been struggling with driver, though the results have been even more extreme. Woodland has gone from being a top-five driver to below PGA Tour average.
39. Ryan Palmer (10th in 2011): Palmer has not played since Speth last won here in 2015. I’m not sure which is more difficult to believe. Currently playing maybe the best golf of his career (rivaled only by a similar run back in … 2015).
40. Si Woo Kim (T21 in 2019): The talent exists, and he’s made three straight cuts here. Maybe they should tell him Pete Dye re-designed the par 3 course (Pete Dye did not redesign the par 3 course).
41. Lanto Griffin (MC in 2020): After his comments following the Farmer’s Insurance Open, I need him and the 2018 champion here in a weekend pairing.
42. Harris English (T42 in 2016): His game should fit perfectly here, theoretically — high ball flight, good putter. He’s been hitting it pretty poorly for the last two months, though. Interesting dark-horse guy but not somebody I want to back.
43. Abraham Ancer (T13 in 2020): His contention was so improbable last year that I’m still not sure it happened. This is just not the sort of course he should necessarily thrive at, and yet he’s also been a top-25 (or so) player for more than a year. He might be an on-course killer, which is a delight to watch and cover.
44. Billy Horschel (T17 in 2016): For as solid as Horschel has been for the last eight years, he still has just one top 10 at a major (2013 U.S. Open at Merion).
45. Ian Poulter (T6 in 2015): Makes a lot of cuts at Augusta (14 of 15 in his career) but not a ton of legit contention, though he was kind of in it in 2019 when Tiger won. He’s on the short list of guys I’d love to see holding a lead with six holes left on Sunday.
46. Marc Leishman (T4 in 2013): Leish doesn’t have a top 10 at any major since finishing 9th at the 2018 Masters, in which he played in the final pairing with Patrick Reed on Saturday. If you were to re-rank this list based on how popular the winner would be, I’d have to think he’s in the top 10.
47. Jason Kokrak (MC in 2020): People will say his short game holds him back a great deal. I just don’t think he’s good enough with his irons to up the ante on that MC in 2020. Even a big bopper like Kokrak will fold under the pressure of second shots into these greens.
48. Francesco Molinari (T5 in 2019): It’s been nice to see him resurrect the career a bit, but I can’t shake the feeling that guys like Molinari — really good players, but not great ones — only get one run where they’re playing well enough to win a major (or multiple majors). Unfortunately for him, his coincided with one of the great sports stories of all time.
49. Kevin Kisner (T21 in 2019): I wonder if Kisner, when he noted that there were certain courses he knows he can’t win at (like Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines), had Augusta National in mind as well. He’s been fine here, but no top 10s to date. His best major has been the PGA Championship.
50. Cameron Champ (T19 in 2020): Nice debut for him in 2020. My problem with him is not the short game — which is not great — but more that he’s not an elite iron player, which you need to be — at least for a week — to win this thing.
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51. Danny Willett (Won in 2016): Made his first cut here in November since winning in 2016.
52. Matt Jones (MC in 2014): He was so good at the Honda Classic and has been hitting it at a … checks notes … Rory McIlroy-like level for the last two months. He won’t win, but he’s a fun top-20 guy.
53. Zach Johnson (Won in 2007): The other Johnson has just two top 10s here ever and only one since winning in 2007 (it came in 2015). This reminds me of one of the great tweets of our time.
54. Matt Kuchar (T3 in 2012): Kuchar quietly missed the cut at every major he played last year for the first time since 2009. He’s also outside the top 100 from tee to green over the last two months.
55. Carlos Ortiz (N/A): If you haven’t seen Ortiz swing, be prepared to believe you’re watching somebody try and impersonate Jordan Spieth on the first, oh, I don’t know — 3,000 viewings.
56. Sebastian Munoz (T19 in 2020): Would love to see D.J.’s face when he slips the green jacket over the Flex Seal logo on Bassy’s Masters scripting.
57. Kevin Na (T12 in 2015): The theatrics are fun, until they’re not. Na has just two top 10s in 38 career major championships, although he did beat Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods, Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau last November at this event.
58. Shane Lowry (T25 in 2020): I love Lowry, but he’s almost certainly a one-time major champ. We are officially in “everybody has started to look the same” territory.
59. Dylan Frittelli (T5 in 2020): I bet you didn’t remember that top-five finish in 2020. His game has not been sharp over the past few months. Definite stay-away for me.
60. Brian Harman (T44 in 2018): My expectations are not massive, but I am intrigued by the fact that he’s a lefty and he’s hitting the ball better than he ever has in his career.
61. Stewart Cink (T3 in 2008): He has one top 10 at a major since his 2009 Open win. Oddly, it was the 2018 PGA Championship where he finished T4 behind Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.
62. Michael Thompson (T25 in 2013): Might have the biggest gap between the popularity of a win and likelihood of winning of anyone in the field.
63. Charl Schwartzel (Won in 2011): Matthias Schwab and Sam Ryder have played better golf than Schwartzel in 2021.
64. Victor Perez (T46 in 2020): I believe the European Ryder Cup team is obligated to always keep at least one man of mystery named “Victor” in the shadows until they need him most.
65. Bernd Wiesberger (T22 in 2015): Wiesberger has been low-key really good here. No missed cuts in five appearances. There aren’t be many guys in history who have a perfect MC record with at least that many events played.
66. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (T38 in 2020): A top 40 in his debut last November, but he’s quite short off the tee, which does not bode well in a field that includes Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson. His story would be the story of the tournament if he got into contention.
67. C.T. Pan (T7 in 2020): Tough one to figure out. He made the cut at just one major in 2019-20, and it was a top 10 at the Masters in November. I like him a lot, but the game just does not fit Augusta very well (or so I thought … and still think).
68. Robert MacIntyre (n/a): Another lefty and more intrigue. Could double Scotland’s Masters champion count.
69. Bernhard Langer (Won in 1985, 1993): Remember last year when everybody did the “See, Langer is contending even though he only drives it 270 feet thing? He’s done so in four of his last six Masters.
70. Henrik Stenson (T5 in 2018): Don’t be fooled by the name. Stenson doesn’t have a top 10 on the PGA Tour since the 2019 (!) U.S. Open. He’s missed six straight cuts worldwide coming into this week.
71. Brendon Todd (MC in 2020): You, unfortunately, cannot putt your way to a green jacket.
72. Jimmy Walker (T8 in 2014): This very well could be the last Masters for Walker, who is now outside the top 500 in the world and has no top 10s worldwide since 2018. I believe he is the lowest-ranked player in this field who is not an amateur or a former winner. Incredibly, he’s never missed a cut here.
73. Martin Laird (T20 in 2011): Who could forget that 2011 Masters when Rory opened with 65, Laird opened with 74 and they finished within one stroke of each other on Sunday evening (Rory got him by one)?
74. Mackenzie Hughes (MC in 2017): I love Mackenzie Hughes. Mackenzie Hughes is not going to win the Masters (unless they moved the weekend rounds to PGA National and nobody knows about it yet).
75. Robert Streb (MC in 2016): Oddly, Streb has as many top 10s at the PGA Championship as he has made cuts at every other major he’s played in combined. He’s never seen the weekend here, and has missed more cuts than he’s made since winning the RSM Classic in the fall to qualify for this year’s Masters.
76. Fred Couples (Won in 1992): I would pay extra for a Fred Couples channel where he just roams the course with a microphone talking about anything he wants to talk about.
77. Hudson Swafford (MC in 2017): Swafford has top 10s in just two of his last 14 events, and both of them came at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. One of those was a win that got him in here, but unless he can body double for Harris English on the weekend, it’s unlikely he’ll see more than two days at Augusta National.
78. Jim Herman (MC in 2016): Dustin Johnson slipping a green jacket on Jim Herman’s shoulders would be like Dwyane Wade giving a speech at Darko Milicic’s Hall of Fame induction.
79. Brian Gay (T38 in 2013): If Brian Gay wins the Masters, it will almost certainly be because he had the greatest putting week in the history of golf.
80. Mike Weir (Won in 2003): Weir made the cut last year after failing to do so in eight of the previous nine years. I caution against watching the ball flight off the tee or looking at the Masters shot-tracking feature, but if you only pay attention to the scores, it may not be that bad!
81. Vijay Singh (Won in 2000): Tied Brooks Koepka and beat Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau and Rickie Fowler at last year’s Memorial. How do I have no recollection of this?
82. Ty Strafaci (n/a): U.S. Amateur champ shot 77-75 at the Farmers Insurance Open this year and then 78 at the Genesis Invitational before withdrawing. Making the cut would be a win for him. He’ll turn pro after the Walker Cup in May.
83. Charles Osborne (n/a): U.S. Amateur runner-up opened with 77 in the stroke-play portion of the event before ripping off a 64 in Round 2 and rolling all the way to the final. He’s currently outside the top 200 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
84. Joe Long (n/a): How great would it be if the 1,820th-ranked player in the world won the Masters? Long comes in as The Amateur champ, and he’s got some Scottie Scheffler-like footwork going on. Two missed cuts in two pro events (both in South Africa).
85. Larry Mize (Won in 1987): Three cuts made in the last seven years! Also, tough to read this and not feel something sweet for Mize and his improbable win in 1987. “I was 28 years old when I won the Masters, and at that time, it was hard to understand the magnitude of it and how it would affect my career. I didn’t understand how special it was going to be now at age 59. I love going back every year.”
86. Jose Maria Olazabal (Won in 1994, 1999): His last made cut anywhere in the world was the 2015 Trophee Hassan II. So … yeah.
87. Sandy Lyle (Won in 1988): I wonder how kind the strokes-gained era would be to ol’ Sandman. He won The Open in 1985 and Augusta in 1988, and has just two other top 10s at major championships.
88. Ian Woosnam (Won in 1991): Forget about Woosie and just read this on aging former winners.