This week marks the 22nd event of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season and the season's first major, as 97 players tee it up at the Masters. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell; editorial director Jay Coffin; associate editor Will Gray; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.
Group 1: Bubba Watson: His length and imagination are a perfect fit at Augusta. Leading the Tour in par-5 scoring, he’s poised to make another run at a third green jacket in four years.
Group 2: Jimmy Walker: Riding high off his win in San Antonio, he’s ranked in the top 5 in putting, birdie average and par-5 scoring – an ideal combination at Augusta, where he finished joint eighth in his debut a year ago.
Group 3: Lee Westwood: Before that missed cut in Houston, the Englishman had top 25s in every Tour start. Add in the fact that he’s finished in the top 11 in each of his last five Masters appearances, and he’s a great value pick in this group.
Group 4: Tiger Woods: Our expectations for the former world No. 1 are so low that hecan only surprise us. He may very well miss the cut, but he also could find a way to finish in the top 10.
Group 1: Jordan Spieth: Playing like a man on a mission, Spieth has the game, the confidence, the momentum and the good mojo here to win.
Group 2: Dustin Johnson: Just feels like the time is right for this mega-talent to get himself in the hunt in a major again, maybe close it out this time. He looks like he has his house in order.
Group 3: Brandt Snedeker: He won earlier this year, and he has some history to draw upon here. That's enough to generate some sparks this week.
Group 4: Angel Cabrera: Recent form gives you lots of reasons not to pick him, but form seems irrelevant when Cabrera arrives at the Masters.
Group 1: Bubba Watson: The defending champ seems to be flying under the radar, and should be in for another big week. No finish worse than T-14 this season, with only one round over 71, and the course clearly suits his eye and his game. Could enter rarified Masters air with a third win in four years.
Group 2: Jimmy Walker: The early-round grouping might not help him, but Walker is playing great right now, finished T-8 last year in his Masters debut and has a stat line that seems tailor-made for Augusta National: first on Tour in birdie average, third in strokes gained putting and fourth in par-5 scoring.
Group 3: Paul Casey: The Englishman is experiencing a resurgent season, and when he was at the top of his game he tended to play well here. A missed cut at Bay Hill can be chalked up to fatigue, and his top-10 finish last week in Houston shows that Casey is rounding into form at just the right time.
Group 4: Tiger Woods: The variables in play are numerous, but when it comes to this event, and this player, it's worth taking a flier.