The days are flying by, and it won’t be long before the big guns of golf return to Augusta to do battle on the greens. The championship has seen some all-out war between the players as they compete for the most illustrious jacket in international golf. This post is a look at past champions who are heading back to Augusta to see if they can slip on that jacket again.
Dustin Johnson goes into the Masters as the defending champion, which he sailed to in the last tournament, where he shot 20 under par. He also has the 2016 Open under his belt and is feeling extremely confident just now.
His previous experience of playing on the course will play into his hands, and he’s no stranger to finishing within the top five at Augusta. Three of his last four visits have seen him place fourth or higher, and the sportsbooks also consider him the man to beat as is reflected in the Masters odds for 2021.
The champ won the Saudi International in February, but failed to have any meaningful impact at the World Golf Championships, and he tied for only 48th place at TPC Sawgrass in the Player’s Championships.
Despite this minor deterioration in form, Johnson considers it a minor hiccup rather than anything to feel seriously worried about. Even though things weren’t going to plan, he felt good while he was playing and that he just needs to fine tune his game slightly. He’s looking forward to Augusta and will go out to enjoy the tournament just as much as he will to win.
Danny Willett (2016)
Whether Danny Willett will conquer Augusta again isn’t looking particularly likely, according to his track record on the course since then. The Brit may have laid his hands on the green jacket at the 2016 Masters, but he’s finished no higher in the tournament than 25th since then. His odds of winning stand at 125-1.
That’s not to say the whole world should write him off. Tournaments in the UAE appear to have developed a soft spot for Willet. In 2018, he took first place in the DP World Tour Championship and fifth in the 2019 championship, so he can still produce championship winning golf.
One of Willett’s strengths has been the mental toughness which helped him to return to much better form. At one point, injury in his shoulder, back, knees, and wrist really hampered his game, but he’s been able to fight back from that and also to contend with the pressure on him placed by some of his other career successes. Some felt that his win of the BMW PGA Championship was a fluke, but he was determined to show it wasn’t the case.
Jordan Spieth (2015)
Jordan Spieth may have taken Augusta in 2015 and the British Open in 2017, but fans will be wondering if the golfing star from Dallas, Texas, has already seen his best days on the green. The former world number two has fallen out of the top fifty in the rankings.
Bookmakers don’t think so, but also haven’t given him overly confident odds either, at 14-1. Spieth has proven himself to be a real contender on the PGA tour and he’s played some tremendous golf, even if winning hasn’t been his strongest suit in more recent years.
One thing Spieth has proved, however, is that he’s comfortable with pressure. He achieved his 2015 Augusta National win by going all the way to the wire. He also shows no fear of fighting back. His form has seen better days, but he took a weekend off in December 2020, got back on the horse, and is gradually working to get back on top of his game. There’s still work to be done, but he’s on the right path. Whether he’ll find full form before Augusta could be a lofty ask.
Patrick Reed (2018)
With a nickname such as “Captain America,” thanks to some masterfully heroic playing at the Ryder Cup, you’d think Patrick Reed would be a serious contender from then. He’s already slipped on the green jacket of the 2018 August National, but since then the major titles have dried up.
Bookmakers have him at 25-1 to win, but it seems that the Texan, from San Antonio, has become embroiled in controversy for not the first time. Golf fans are again accusing him of cheating at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he appears to have been interfering with the grass on which his ball lay.
Leaving the on-the-green controversy to one side, Reed’s short game still needs a little work. However, he has improved with the irons and his putting game is sharper. If he can keep any thoughts of the controversy around him out of his head and focus on his game, he might surprise a few people.
The golfers above have proven they’re more than capable in the past of winning the Augusta National and would dearly love to wear the jacket again. Dustin Johnson is the champ, and he won’t be relinquishing that title so easily. They all have experience of the Augusta green in their favor, but they’ll have to produce their very best form to take victory.