Chasing Tiger Phil at Augusta

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Gosh, all anyone you media types ever talk about in regards to winning the Masters Tournament are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
 
Tiger and Phil, Phil and Tiger ' blah, blah, blah. Can you at least try and be original? Try to have your own thoughts. Oh, thats right: you dont have any. Youre just a sheep following the masses, picking the obvious.
 
You know, there are other people in this field. Players who CAN actually beat your treasured Tiger and precious Phil.

 
Thats not an actual e-mail that I received, but one quite similar in content to what I read and hear about this time of year.
 
Yes, there are indeed other players aside from Tiger and Phil in the Masters field. One-hundred and seven men have been invited to compete, and Im sure a few of them will give these two a run for their money this week ' these two who just happen to have won five of the last six Masters titles and seven of the last 12 overall major championships.
 
Here are some of the ones who might make a push but will most likely be unable to topple both Tiger and Phil at Augusta National.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh's Bay Hill win came with Tiger and Phil in the field. (WireImage)
Vijay Singh:
Why he can win: Hes already won twice this year (as many as Woods and one more than Mickelson), is a past Masters champion, and has cracked the top 10 at Augusta National in each of the last five years.
 
Why he probably wont: Sometimes, results can be deceiving. While Singh might be finishing inside the top 10, hes also finishing, on average, about 6 strokes behind the eventual winner. Hes also having a very difficult time breaking par over the weekend, with his Saturday/Sunday scoring average being in the black. His best weekend performance came in 2004, when he closed 69-69 ' and finished seven back of Mickelson. In 2002, he was only two back entering the final round and shot 76.
 
Adam Scott
Why he can win: He just won last week in Houston, and Mickelson captured the BellSouth and Masters back-to-back a year ago. He also tied for third at last years PGA Championship and was T8 at the Open Championship, his two most recent major championship starts.
 
Why he probably wont: Again, looks are a bit deceiving. Scott was never really in contention in either the 06 British or PGA. He was four back of Woods at Royal Liverpool and shot 72 to Tigers 67 on Sunday. At Medinah, he closed with a 67, but began the day seven in arrears and ultimately made up only one shot on Tiger. Scott tied for ninth in his 2002 Masters debut; he hasnt since broken the top 20. Hes never shot in the 60s in 18 career rounds at Augusta, and no Australian has ever won this event.
 
Ernie Els
Why he can win: He is a two-time runner-up in this event, finished inside the top 10 on five straight occasions, and has three career major championship titles. He also has the desire, wanting nothing more than to win this tournament.
 
Why he probably wont: He may want it too much and that could prove detrimental. He also knows that his window of opportunity is closing and he may press too hard. His two best Sunday performances came when he shot 68 in 2000 and 67 in 2004. Neither time was it good enough for the gold (or green). Hes also played rather poorly over the last two years in majors, accruing only one top-10. That came at last years British, when he was one off the 54-hole lead, but shot 71 on Sunday to finish five back of Woods.
 
Retief Goosen
Why he can win: He has three top-3s here in the last five years. Hes a proven major champion who putts well on fast greens and plays well under difficult conditions. He also won in Qatar on the European Tour earlier this year.
 
Why he probably wont: Goosen's last win on the PGA TOUR came in the 2005 International. In three stroke-play TOUR events this year, he has one finish inside the top 50. His best chance to win the Masters was in 2002, when he was tied with Woods for the lead entering the final round. Woods shot 71 and won by three as Goosen wilted with a 74.
 
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk has three top-10s this year, but none since the Nissan Open. (WireImage)
Jim Furyk
Why he can win: He had a pair of top-5 finishes in the majors last year and has a trio of top-10s at Augusta throughout his career. He has one major in his pocket and it seems just a matter of time before he collects No. 2. Hes also the second-ranked player in the world.
 
Why he probably wont: As Augusta National continues to grow in length, Furyk has increasingly finished outside the top 10. Having missed the event in 2004 due to his injured wrist, he tied for 28th in 05 and tied for 22nd in 06. Most amazingly, his tie for second in last years U.S. Open and fourth-place showing at the British are his only top-10s in majors since he won the 03 U.S. Open. He has missed twice as many cuts during that stretch.
 
Chris DiMarco
Why he can win: He nearly shocked Tiger in 2005, losing in a playoff, and played in the final twosome on Sunday in 04, falling to Mickelson. He also finished runner-up to Woods in last years Open Championship.
 
Why he probably wont: DiMarco is totally hit or miss in majors. Over the last two years, he has a pair of runner-ups; a T12; a T67; and four missed cuts. But the biggest reason why he wont win: he almost never wins ' hasnt done so on TOUR in over five years.
 
Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald
Why they can win: They're all very talented; all very successful; all have had chances before to win a major; all have at least one top-10 at the Masters.
 
Why they probably wont: Well, for one, theyre European; and a European hasnt won a major since the 99 British. Casey hasnt shown that he can close out a U.S. tournament; Garcia cant find the bottom of the cup (spit aside) fast enough; Harrington has missed the cut in six of his last nine majors, including each of the two after his narrow miss at last years U.S. Open; Donald will need a Mike-Weir-2003-near-perfect-short-game performance just to have a chance.
 
Mike Weir
Why he can win: Hes the only player not named Tiger or Phil over the last six years to win the Masters.
 
Why he probably wont: He hasnt won a tournament in over three years. Hes still in search of his first top-20 of the season.
 
Charles Howell III
Why he can win: He is an Augusta native who has played this course since he was a kid. He won the Nissan Open in February and had a pair of runner-up finishes to earn his way into the event.
 
Why he probably wont: Like Els, he just wants to win too much. His best finish is a tie for 13th, his only top-25 in five starts. He missed the cut last year shooting 80-84 to finish dead last in the field.
 
Henrik Stenson
Why he can win: He's playing very well going into the event. The Swede won the Dubai Desert Classic with Tiger, Ernie and other notables in attendance. He also took home the WGC-Accenture Match Play. He hits the ball a ton and has a good short game.
 
Why he probably won't: Stenson has only played in seven career major tournaments. He missed the cut in his Masters debut a year ago. He's also a chic pick to win, which means he can't come in under the radar; he has to deal with pressure from the beginning. And he's European.
 
Everyone Else
Why they can win: Plenty of past Masters and other major champions comprise the limited field, as well as a host of world class players.
 
Why they probably wont: Three words: Tiger and Phil.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Masters Tournament