The 2012 Masters at Augusta National promises to be a thrilling contest between the best golfers in the world. When you factor in Tiger Woods’ supposed return to glory, Rory McIlroy’s quest to redeem himself, Phil Mickelson’s hunt for another jacket and Charl Schwartzel’s attempt to defend his title – the storylines are plentiful heading into the next few days.
While everyone generally acknowledges that it’s virtually impossible to confidently predict the eventual winner of golf’s biggest tournament, picking who will finish in the top five is a far more achievable feat.
As you would probably expect, the favorites to win the whole thing are also pretty heavy favorites to finish in the top five. Woods, coming off his Arnold Palmer Invitational win, is listed 5/6 to finish with one of the five best results. Similarly, McIlroy -- who is a substantially better player this year than he was during last year’s debacle -- is 10/11, and Mickelson -- who is on his quest for a fourth jacket -- is listed at 2/1.
The other guy to keep an eye on this week is Luke Donald. Donald’s best finish at the Masters came seven years ago in 2005, when he tied for third. Last year, he finished tied for fourth (all the while bettering par by 10 shots and chipping for a birdie on the 72nd hole) in an admirable effort to take down Schwartzel that ultimately came up short. And despite the fact that he has missed the cut in two of the last four years and finished tied for 38th in 2009, he is listed at 13/5 to finish in the top five this time around.
The defending champion, Schwartzel (who nobody is really giving a legit shot at repeating), is being listed at 7/1 to finish among the top five when it’s all said and done this week.
Other interesting top five options to keep an eye on: Hunter Mahan (11/2), Justin Rose (6/1), Adam Scott (6/1), Keegan Bradley (6/1), Jason Day (7/1), Steve Stricker (8/1), Bubba Watson (8/1) and Nick Watney (9/1).