Expert Picks: The Masters


This week marks the 22nd event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as players head down Magnolia Lane for the Masters, where 97 players will battle for the season's first major. 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, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and John Antonini; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; staff writer Ryan Lavner and defending fantasy champion Charlie Rymer.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: The pieces have been coming back together, and the time feels right for McIlroy to win what he lost at Augusta National in 2011.

Group 2: Bubba Watson: If not for that terrible outing and W/D at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Watson would be hard to bet against this week. He had the shots and confidence going in a large way after his win at the Northern Trust Open.

Group 3: Lee Westwood: He really seems to have figured out how to play Augusta National the last four years, just needs to figure out how to get into that green jacket.

Group 4: Fred Couples: Don't put it past Freddie to get into contention yet again here. This place likes him as much as he likes it.

John Antonini

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: No matter how he's playing coming into the Masters, Phil is always a solid choice. Like Arnold Palmer, he wins at Augusta National in even-numbered years (2004, '06, '10).

Group 2: Zach Johnson: The 2007 champ comes into this week on the short list of the hottest players on Tour in 2013-14. He won at Maui and hasn't missed a cut in 10 starts this season.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: No first-timer has won since 1979, but some rookie always plays well. DeLaet has the length to birdie the par 5s, hits plenty of greens and avoids three-putts well enough to thrive at Augusta National.

Group 4: Branden Grace: He made 15 birdies in his last three rounds in his Masters debut in 2013. If you blame his opening 78 on rookie jitters, he could surprise people this year.