Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Thomas
- The 2019 Masters starts on April 11 at Augusta National Golf Club.
- Jason Sobel ranks the entire Masters field, 1 to 86, so both bettors and DFS players know which players to back and which to fade.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – I’ve been ranking the entire Masters field for about 15 years now. As I always tell people, I’m not going to stop until I get the whole damn thing right someday. I ain’t holding my breath, either.
Oh, sure. Every once in a while, I might nail exactly which player finishes in ninth place, or which one languishes in 46th. But I’ll get a few wrong, too. Probably more than a few.
That doesn’t mean I can’t be smart about this and make some informed selections.
One thing I’ve learned during all this time: By every measure, the Masters remains the easiest of the four majors to predict — and it still isn’t easy. Unlike the other three majors, this one has a limited field that includes a half-dozen amateurs and a bevy of past champions who really don’t stand much chance of contending.
Based on the numbers alone, it’s much easier; throw in the fact that it’s the only one which repeats at the same course every year and that historical knowledge certainly helps, too.
Another thing I’ve learned: Chalk doesn’t cash. The same people who insist they absolutely, positively can’t see a way Rory McIlroy doesn’t win this week — unless he’s thwarted by Justin Thomas or Dustin Johnson — are the same ones shell-shocked when Duke and North Carolina get bounced before the Final Four. In the past decade, exactly zero pre-tournament favorites have won the Masters.
And one last thing: You can’t find your game at Augusta. Check the results tables of those recent champions and while none were favored, all of them had achieved some semblance of success prior to driving down Magnolia Lane. It’s almost guaranteed that the man wearing a green jacket on Sunday will have climbed a handful of leaderboards over the year’s first three months.
Keep in mind: These are predictions, not projections. One man’s view of how the 2019 Masters could finish up, based on a combination of analytical models, player interviews, recent form, course history and a healthy dose of educated hunches.
2019 Masters Field Rankings
1. Rickie Fowler (Best Finish: 2nd, 2018)
If you’ve been picking him to win majors over the past decade — and yes, I’m guilty of it on a few occasions, too — then you’ve been shut out so far, but that doesn’t mean the drought will continue. Now 30, Fowler has matured into one of the world’s top players. A strong start to 2019, coupled with a runner-up result last year, could result in his long-awaited first major title this week.
2. Justin Thomas (Best Finish: T-17, 2018)
A record of three Masters results all outside the top 15 and three straight recent starts outside the top 20 might keep you off the scent, but I’d be surprised if Thomas isn’t sniffing around the top of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon. At third in total strokes gained this season, all facets of his game are good enough to seriously contend anyplace, anytime — especially here.
3. Rory McIlroy (Best Finish: 4th, 2015)
Look, he’s the favorite for a reason: Easily the world’s hottest player right now, McIlroy owns five consecutive top-10 finishes at this tournament. Needing a green jacket to complete the career grand slam, though, is even tougher than it sounds.
I’m not convinced all of the scar tissue from last year’s final-round foible has healed up. He’s the one guy who could boat-race the field, but he’s yet to exorcise his Augusta demons.