Can Jordan Spieth make history Sunday as the youngest champion at the Masters? Can Matt Kuchar take the next step in his career and win a major? Will Bubba Watson add a second green jacket to his closet? GolfChannel.com's writers weigh in with their picks to win the 2014 Masters.
BY REX HOGGARD
With apologies to Jordan Spieth’s youthful energy, Rickie Fowler’s panache and Matt Kuchar’s consistency, the 78th Masters will be claimed by the player who has already won a blinking contest with Augusta National’s intense Sunday glare – Bubba Watson.
For all his quirkiness and unorthodox swing mechanics, Watson proved in 2012 that he harbors the intangible trait to shoulder the most pressure-packed situations. Bubba is, at his core and for all the right reasons, a showoff, and there is no better way to dominate center stage than a Sunday shootout at Augusta.
He wasn’t at his best on Saturday.
Watson's third-round 74 opened the door for at least a dozen would-be contenders, but he did what champions do and made two crucial par saves on 17 and 18 to secure a spot in the final pairing.
Watson’s length and ability to move the ball in mind-bending ways get most of the attention. But on Sunday, Bubba will separate the wheat from the chaff with his putter – just like he did in 2012.
Watson has just two three-putts in 54 holes.
But most importantly, Watson will win because he’s done it before. And at Augusta National, experience is king.
BY JAY COFFIN
Jordan Spieth is the story everyone wants to see, but Matt Kuchar is the man who will make history Sunday at Augusta National.
A major victory is the next logical progression for Kuchar, a man who has won a PGA Tour playoff event, The Players and a World Golf Championship. A major, this major, is within grasp.
Kuchar, 35, has long had a love affair with Augusta National. He played here often while attending Georgia Tech, and he made the cut in the Masters twice as an amateur in 1998-99, collecting low-amateur honors in ’98. His recent play has been stellar, too, as he tied for third place in 2012 and tied for eighth place last year.
Despite throwing away the Houston Open last week to Matt Jones, Kuchar has been playing nicely the past month. He tied for 13th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, tied for fourth at the Valero Texas Open and lost to Jones in a playoff last week in Houston.
This is Kuchar’s time. He’s paid his dues. The Masters will be his ultimate payoff.
BY JOE POSNANSKI
Winner: Jordan Spieth.
When the week began, The Augusta Chronicle asked a bunch of writers to pick a winner. I was the only one to pick Jordan Spieth. I don’t say this to brag (well, I do say it PARTLY to brag), but I say this because I think a lot of people WANTED to pick Jordan Spieth but said to themselves; "Nah. He’s just 20. It’s his first Masters. The history is too daunting.”
Thing is, the kid is unaffected by history. He’s unaffected by everything. He’s 20 going on 42, playing balls to the middle of the green, putting the lightning-fast greens like he was born on them and hitting magical shots around the green like only he knows how the trick is done.
While the Masters leaderboard on Saturday bounced around like those ping pong balls in the lottery bowl, Spieth just plowed through, a rock-steady 70, and it’s clear that the old rules just don’t apply. The Spieth coronation happens Sunday.
BY JASON SOBEL
Jordan Spieth is going to win the 2014 Masters Tournament.
Read those words again, because they’re historic.
On Sunday, the 20-year-old Spieth is going to earn his way into one of golf’s most exclusive clubs – and he’s going to do it well before anyone believed possible. Anyone but him, that is.
He’s going to become the youngest major champion in over a century, the youngest in Masters history and the first tournament rookie to win in his first start in 35 years.
Consider it ironic that all of these things are about to happen for Spieth because of his maturity level. He might be 20, but he acts like a 30-year-old, and he plays with the experience of a 40-year-old.
Don't miss a minute of this one. With no Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson on the weekend, this Masters needed a boost. It’s about to receive a tremendous one in the form of an emerging superstar champion.