Masters 2021 predictions: from Green Jacket winner to Brits who will shine
Back in its usual April slot at Augusta National Golf Club, the 85th Masters returns with world number one Dustin Johnson bidding to retain the title he won in November.
But as ever with Augusta, there are plenty more sub-plots than that, such as England’s Lee Westwood bidding to break Jack Nicklaus’ record and become the oldest player to win the Masters.
From veterans still grinding it out to emerging names throwing their hat into the ring, it promises to be anything but dull. With that in mind, Telegraph Sport offers up our key predictions, from picking a winner through to a big name unlikely to make the cut.
Winner: Justin Thomas won The Players last month and the exuberant American’s form stands out among the favourites. Has been spending time with Tiger Woods of late and will have an informed gameplan. The fast and firm conditions suit.
Brit who will shine: What a story it would be if Lee Westwood at the age of 47 could become the oldest ever winner of The Masters. I will be surprised if he is outside the top 15. Loves Augusta and in wonderful form.
Veteran who will roll back the years: Westwood should probably count in this, but that would be offensive. Bernhard Langer will probably make the cut at 63 and everyone will be shocked, but not really. In these conditions, he could make the top 25.
Youngster who will make a name for himself: Scotland has a brave new hope in Bob MacIntyre. The 24-year-old left-hander has a Shinty background and a fighter’s hear. The debutant can put Oban on the map – or at least pinpoint exactly where it is up there in the beautiful Highlands.
Big name to miss the cut: Bryson DeChambeau was sent from heaven for golf writers and the longer he is on the leaderboard the better for every story concerned. But he doesn’t get Augusta and this week is not the time for bravado.
Winner: Dustin Johnson. Finally, the world No 1 has the even temperament to match his languid power, a combination that should prove irresistible as he seeks to become only the fourth player to become a back-to-back Masters champion.
Brit who will shine: Matt Fitzpatrick. The pride of Sheffield enters this Masters not just on a tear, having won the European Tour’s season-closer in December, but with a remarkably polished Augusta record. In his five appearances, the 26-year-old has made the cut every time, shot four rounds in the 60s and finished in the top 10.
Veteran who will roll back the years: Vijay Singh. The Fijian was clearly enthralled as he watched Bryson DeChambeau perform his lumberjack act on the driving range this week. At 56, the winner in 2000 retains a remorseless work ethic and booked his place for the weekend as recently as 2018.
Youngster who will make a name for himself: Cameron Champ. In a sense, being called Champ, the Californian’s name is already made. But at 25, he has gifts to conquer Augusta in abundance, using his bulked-up physique to make his 130mph-plus clubhead speed look easy.
Big name to miss the cut: Phil Mickelson. Such is his natural exuberance, it is difficult to believe golf’s Mr America is 50. Alas, the first signs of anno domini are emerging: he has not finished better than 24th in his last 20 tour starts, and his world ranking is down at 115th.
Winner: Dustin Johnson. Jordan Spieth and Bryson Dechambeau may be hotter picks but there’s a reason DJ is the bookies’ favourite. So solid last autumn and so consistent at Augusta. Top 10 in each of his last five Masters starts.
Brit who will shine: Lee Westwood. Looks and sounds relaxed, playing as well as he ever has, and another who tends to bring his A-game in Masters week. Would be a hugely popular winner (as well as oldest ever).
Veteran who will roll back the years: Bernhard Langer. Is Westwood a veteran? In terms of real golden oldies, Langer is still playing incredibly good golf. The 63 year-old, who finished T29 in November, could shoot his age in a couple of years.
Youngster who will make a name for himself: Joaquin Niemann. Sungjae Im, the man with the slowest backswing in golf, could have another good week but is no longer a surprise package. For a left-field pick, how about Niemann? The 22-year-old Chilean has made 15 consecutive cuts.
Big name to miss the cut: Henrik Stenson. Turned 45 earlier this week but unlikely to find an extra spring in his step. In terrible form. Six missed cuts in his last seven starts and a combined 32 over par in his last six rounds.
Winner: Justin Thomas. Has a 2021 victory under his belt at the Players Championship, is third on Tour for strokes gained on approach shots and his Masters finishes in chronological order are: T-30, T-22, T-17, T-12 and fourth.
Brit who will shine: Matt Wallace. The Englishman finished third in Texas last week and is another player with iron play that profiles well statistically. No great Masters history but did shoot two under-par rounds in November’s renewal.
Veteran who will roll back the years: Lee Westwood. Phil Mickelson is far too erratic to be trusted in this category, so the stars are aligning for the in-form Westwood to challenge at the age of 47. No Green Jacket but an impressive Masters record.
Youngster who will make a name for himself: Viktor Hovland. The 23-year-old is the World No 14 and his driving is spectacular. His short game is improving and the Norwegian shot three under-par rounds on his Masters debut in 2019.
Big name to miss the cut: Jordan Spieth. No player has gone on to win the Masters after winning the previous week since Mickelson in 2006, and I have a feeling Spieth may be drained by his first title since 2017.
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