The day before the year's first Major, how are some of the favourites for the event shaping up? What have they been saying in the build-up and what does it mean?

With just a day to go to the start of the 2015 Masters, some of the chief protagonists have been positioning themselves mentally in the tournament build up. Here we take a look at what some of the main men have been saying, assess just what their comments might mean and whether they’re going to be able to deliver over 72 holes.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy starts as favourite

Rory McIlroy starts as favourite, Credit: Getty Images

Situation:
The strong favourite to take the year’s first Major, Rory is going for a career “Grand Slam.” His game is well suited to the course at Augusta and it’s widely thought that if he produces his best golf, he’ll be tough to beat this week. He led through 54-holes in 2011, only to suffer a final round meltdown. But he’s won four Majors since then and is currently the undisputed World Number 1.

What he’s said:
“I think I’m better equipped now to handle it if things don’t go quite the right way.” … Important at Augusta for sure.

“I’ve been guilty of chasing eagles at the par-5s. I need to make sure I get birdies. Last year Bubba played the par-5s in eight-under-par and I played them level. He beat me by eight shots.” … He’s got his thinking cap on.

What might count against him?:
Well, the pressure and expectation are the main things he’ll have to deal with. But he’s managed that before now. He’ll definitely need to have his iron play dialed in. He’s an aggressive player and he’s bound to attack pins. Those approaches will have to be spot on, as anything just missing at Augusta can leave a player in a perilous predicament. He also has a member of One Direction caddying for him in the par-3 competition. That has to be some sort of bad omen.

Likelihood of victory: 25%

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods: Happy to be here

Tiger Woods: Happy to be here

Situation:
Returning from an extended break from competitive golf, the former World Number 1 has dropped outside the top-100 in the rankings. There’s uncertainty about his body, about his swing and about his short game. But he’s a four-time Masters champion and he’s finished in the top-10 a further nine times. It would be foolish to write-off a player with Tiger’s talent, but with no competitive form whatsoever coming into this event, a victory this week would be simply incredible.

What he’s said:
“I worked my ass off. People would never understand how much work I put into it to come back and do this again, it was sun up to sun down.” … Let’s hope he hasn’t worked his ass so hard that he gets cramps in it again.

“I’m trying to beat everybody out there, that hasn’t changed.” … Winning is still everything to Tiger.

What might count against him?:
What won’t count against him? He’s been injured (probably,) his short game has been in tatters and Augusta is the toughest examination of short game anywhere. He’s not as long as he once was, he’s been going through swing changes, he’ll be under intense scrutiny all week… Good luck Tiger.

Likelihood of victory: 1%

Bubba Watson

Masters

Can Bubba Watson do it again?

Situation:
The defending champion comes into this event as a real horse for the course. The set-up of Augusta suits him perfectly as he can hit high, huge fades all the way round and stop the ball softly on the super-fast putting surfaces. He also has a creative short-game and reasonable form coming into the week. However, he’s just found out he’s the least popular guy on the PGA Tour thanks to an anonymous ESPN poll of players. When asked who they’d be least likely to help in a fight in the car park, 22% of them answered Bubba.

What he’s said:
“Here is the way I take it: I take it as I need to improve as a man.” … A noble ambition.

“I know how to deal with the pressure, I’ve done it before. I know that I can do it and that helps a little if I have a chance on Sunday.” … Undoubtedly true, it’s a question of getting that chance.

What might count against him?:
Well the fact that his peers don’t like him must have some sort of impact, no matter what he says. Maybe it will spur him on… Also, the sheer power he puts into every shot could backfire if his game isn’t 100% on. A huge curving slice can work perfectly, but if overdone it could be destructive.

Likelihood of victory: 20%

Adam Scott

Situation:
The 2013 champion has been attempting to fly under the radar in the build up this year. He’s named Rory and Bubba as the men to beat and he’s gone back to the long putter (boo and indeed shame.)

What he’s said:
“I’m not here to just see what happens. I’m here to get the job done, and the odds are more in my favour of doing that with the longer putter considering I’ve used it the last four years.” … Looks like he’s prepared to do what it takes to don that Green Jacket for a second time, but would his victory be tainted using the long wand?

“I think distance off the tee is relevant at the Masters when you see guys like Dustin, Rory and certainly Bubba in full flight and tearing courses apart off the tee.” … Adam is putting a lot of faith in power and it’s paying off, he’s averaging over 10 yards more off the tee than when he won in 2013.

What might count against him?:
Well, if anything, it’s sure to be fragility on the greens. He can rival anyone for ball-striking, but if he’s uncertain on Augusta’s lightning-quick putting surfaces, he can forget it. OK, he’s gone back to the long-wand but chopping and changing just before a Major is not great preparation.

Likelihood of victory: 8%

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson: Some gentle boasting

Phil Mickelson: Some gentle boasting, Credit: Getty Images

Situation:
The three-time Masters champion had been struggling for form badly, until a more reasonable showing in Houston last week. His putting had been off and that must be a real worry for him. But he’s been displaying some self-confidence in the pre-tournament build up. Telling a classic Green Jacket story in his press conference.

What he’s said:
“I would put it (Green Jacket) in my golf bag (at corporate functions) and if it was chilly in the morning, I would pull it out and put it on. I wouldn’t carry three (jackets) around with me, but I would say, ‘I’ve got two more if you’re cold.’” … Dining out on past glories won’t get the job done this week Phil.

What might count against him?:
Just his lack of current form. He’s always inspired by Augusta, but he’s currently 120th in the FedEx Cup and it’s hard to see him turning it around enough to contend this week.

Likelihood of victory: 4%

  • Fergus Bisset

    I thought 1% was quite generous. Most bookies had him as 50-1 which is 2%, but I thought that was the wrong price. 100-1 would have been more reasonable but still wouldn’t have tempted me to put money on him.

  • Tony reed

    Fergus do you really see Tiger arguably the greatest of all time as a 1% chance of winning.
    IMO your on a wind up.