The PGA Tour continues this week with the first major of the season as it visits Augusta National Golf Club for the 2022 Masters Tournament. Read on below to see my prediction for who will win the tournament, as well as my predictions for who will finish in the top 10, my dark horse, and my player to fade.
Winner: Cameron Smith- Fresh off his win at The PLAYERS Championship, Smith has put together a great season thus far, with 2 wins and 4 top 10s in 7 starts. Smith has had past success at The Masters, with 3 top 10’s in 5 career starts, including a T-2 finish in 2020. As a whole, Smith’s game is pretty solid, ranking inside the top 10 in Strokes Gained: Approach The Green, Putting, and Total. Smith gets a little wild off the tee at times, but makes up for it with with a stellar iron game. Sometimes you have to just ride the hot hand and Smith is one of the hottest in the world right now. I predict that Cameron Smith will join Adam Scott as just the second Australian to win The Masters, as well as pick up his first career major win by doing so!
Top 10: Jon Rahm- The #2 ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings, Rahm has had about as good of a PGA Tour season as you can without winning, with 4 top 10’s and 7 top 25’s in 9 starts. Augusta National has been very kind to Rahm, as he has had 4 straight top 10’s here in only 5 career starts. Rahm’s short game has always been streaky and this season is no different, as he is ranked 170th in Strokes Gained: Around-The-Green and 136th in Strokes Gained: Putting. Augusta National will show any fault in your game and Rahm is no exception to the rule. Always a threat to win, I predict that Rahm’s short game will hold him back enough to be out of the hunt for a win on the Sunday, but still good enough to bring home a 5th straight top 10 finish at The Masters.
Dark Horse: Russell Henley- The pride of Macon, GA, Henley comes into The Masters as a hometown favorite, having been born just a few hours down the road from Augusta. That being said, Henley’s game has been in fine form during the 2021-22 season, with 2 top 10’s, 8 top 25’s, and 0 missed cuts in 12 starts so far, which has been paced by the fact that he enters the week ranked 1st in Strokes Gained: Approach The Green. He may not be the longest hit on tour, but nobody is better with their irons than Henley at the moment, which is going to be vital when coming down the stretch on Sunday. Henley hasn’t played in The Masters since 2018, but finished in the top 15 in each of his last 2 starts here and has just 1 missed cut among his 5 trips down Magnolia Lane. A win would be unheralded, but another top 20 showing is well within Henley’s reach.
Player to Fade: Sandy Lyle- Winner of the 1988 Masters Tournament, Sandy Lyle will be making his 41st career trip down Magnolia Lane this week, moving himself to 11th place on the list of most all-time Masters starts. Despite the longevity, the statistics are quite underwhelming against Lyle. Outside of his win, Lyle has not had another top 10 in The Masters and his best finish since that win was a T-20 finish in 2009, over 20 years after his victory. Lyle last made the cut in this tournament in 2014 and hasn’t shot a round under par at Augusta National since 2013. A sentimental favorite each year, Lyle has no legitimate chance of contending and may be the biggest lock I’ve ever had to miss the cut.