Sky Sports Golf commentator Nick Dougherty gives us his thoughts on the 2018 Masters and predicts who will go well around Augusta National.

Sky Sports Golf’s Nick Dougherty: My Masters Picks

We recently visited Sky’s HQ in West London to chat to the Golf team about this year’s highly anticipated US Masters.

Commentator Nick Dougherty gives us his tips and thoughts ahead of Augusta…

Favourite

I don’t think I can remember a Masters which has been more open. You could say about 15 names and go yeah absolutely.

If I had to pick one, I would go for Dustin Johnson.

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DJ’s driving is a given, it will be there, which means he will have lots of wedges, because it is relatively generous off the tee and we know how good his wedges are now.

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It really comes down to putting. You don’t get to do what he has done over the last year or two without being a good putter.

I think the golf course suits him in terms of the shape as well, to be able to draw the ball like he does. Obviously you can win with a fade but there are a lot of holes that suit the way he hits the ball.

DJ finished T6 in 2015 and T4 in 2016 but missed the tournament last year with a back injury.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In terms of his confidence level, the way he plays and the skillset he has, it is great for Augusta National. But it will come down to the putting and making sure he has a bungalow. It is hard to look past him.

He may not be the world number one when we get there but I just think his golf game suits it. I think he will be coming into the right form at that stage and he does have runs, you know a month or so when he’s really hot. I have a feeling that’s going to be his time.

With the others, I want to say Rory McIlroy but I think he needs to tidy up his wedge play and putting if he wants to have a chance, you can’t putt badly at Augusta.

I don’t think Jordan Spieth is playing or putting well enough. I can’t believe I am saying that, two years ago to say that would be the most ridiculous statement. We all know what he is capable of but he isn’t jumping out to me.

Justin Thomas will have a great chance. He’s an all-rounder but I don’t think he will be able to keep up a winning run.

British Contingent

Tommy Fleetwood‘s all round game is very good. He drives it very well, controls it well and that is important around Augusta.

If not more so because the misses around there tend to be short long, which are costly, you think about the par-5s, the par-3 12th is a great example. Left-right they are big, you know you can still miss them. For instance the 6th green is tucked away in the tier on the left, you miss that and you miss the tier you’ll end up miles away.

Tommy Fleetwood with caddie Ian Finnis during his first ever Masters appearance last year.
(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Also if you’re short to that by 7 or 8 feet then it rolls down to the front and you make a 5.

Distance control is super important, which is why I am concerned about Rory. I would rather take Tommy, he will be in there with a good chance to win.

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Past winners

I think Phil Mickelson will do well, he has a great history around Augusta and he is probably driving the ball better than ever and his iron play has been impeccable. We know how good his wedge game is and he is putting well, he is aggressive which doesn’t usually suit Augusta but he putts well.

He could easily win.

It is a hard golf course, it is good to hit it a long way around there but you’ve got to have distance control as well.

Bubba Watson is also a two-time Masters winner, it wouldn’t surprise me if he does well there because confidence is high again as he’s just won. He’s putting better again and is one to watch.

Outsider

In terms of a rank outsider, but someone who should do well in his first year would be Shubhankar Sharma. His golf game is awesome. I think he is going to do quite well, obviously he is a massive outside. He is as outside as they come.

Indian prodigy Shubhankar Sharma could be a solid outsider says Nick Dougherty.
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Other than the fact he’s leading the Race to Dubai, he has zero experience and will be on cloud nine taking it all in. I mean he was looking forward to shaking Phil Mickelson’s hand at the WGC-Mexico and now he will be playing Augusta National.

I think he could make the cut and then who knows where he could finish. It is a big shout to say he would win, but he has got a big golf game, he’s going to be great.

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Course Knowledge

Knowledge round Augusta does count. I think it depends on how well, these guys I am talking about have played it enough, where if you’re like, I feel like played it a few times, you get it.

I don’t think its necessarily somewhere that, if you played it 20 years yes you would have an edge but not, the growth from year one to year two to year three is enormous. You’ve played it enough and these guys go back a lot. They don’t just turn up on Monday, they’ve gone back weeks before.

I mean even the one year I played it I took six hours to play the front nine, and then six hours to play the back nine because there is no one out there, other than Jack Nicklaus, but my caddie, my local caddie said these are the six possibles for pins.

Related: Bernhard Langer’s Augusta National hole by hole guide

We all know where they are, its more of an disadvantage if you’ve been there, if you put it on the green I am sure a lot of those guys who have played it a lot would go, from the middle to the front right on 1, its got about 4 feet of break. They would know that.

But you know three years of playing the practice rounds, you would also know that. I think even these young guns, winning it in your first year, you know it just doesn’t happen.

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