Posted: 12:37 p.m. Sunday, April 14, 2013
By Brendan Porath
It's Sunday at the Masters, and the final pairings are now getting to the course to warm up for their final round. Augusta presents the unique major championship layout where a low number is available on Sunday, leading to the common refrain that anyone within six shots of the lead on the back nine is never out of it. Graeme McDowell tweeted earlier on Sunday that the pin placements could yield a low number in the mid-60s. With that in mind, here are some "power rankings" to handicap the top 15 on Sunday, who will all start their round at 2-under or better.
No. 1: Angel Cabrera, 7-under -- 5/1 odds -- 2:40 p.m. ET
El Pato is the last 54-hole leader at the Masters to close it out on a Sunday, winning his second major in 2009 in a playoff on No. 10. Cabrera fades away and then pops up at the majors, creeping up on leaderboards and that's been the path this week. He's currently No. 269 in the world, which would make him the highest ranked player to ever win the Masters (eclipsing his own mark, at No. 69 in 2009).
While Cabrera seems to go away for long stretches, the period since his last Masters has been particularly grim. He had multiple injury issues, including having several of his teeth replaced. But he holds that valuable lifetime invite to Augusta, and all of a sudden this week, he's back at the top of the board. Not many people know much about him, even with two major victories but he's pretty easy to like, with his paunch and penchant for just blasting it and quickly moving on to the next shot.
Angel has only two PGA Tour wins in his career -- both majors. And despite his low world ranking, he's got his game in form and looking like the player that won in 2007 and 2009. He's the only active player on the PGA Tour, other than Tiger Woods, with Masters and U.S. Open wins. With his track record, and the group around him, he's the best bet to win the green jacket on Sunday.
No. 2: Brandt Snedeker, 7-under -- 9/4 odds -- 2:40 p.m. ET
The No. 5 player in the world will play in the late afternoon again on Sunday, anchoring the final round tee times at Augusta. Snedeker's first real notable moment on the national stage came here in 2008, when he made a push at the green jacket but was passed by Trevor Immelman. Snedeker's post-round tears made all the highlights shows, and were replayed this week when he played his way into the final group on Saturday.
Snedeker climbed up the leaderboard with a hot second nine, coming in with a 33 and a bogey-free round. He's perhaps the best putter in the world, and if he gets hot with that club, he'll be on his way to a multi-shot victory. A win would be in line with his ascendance over the past year, which included a solid showing at the British Open, a $10 million FedExCup win, and the best start of anyone on Tour this season. Aside from his playing partner, no one has a better chance.
No. 3: Matt Kuchar, 4-under -- 10/1 odds -- 2:20 p.m. ET
The Georgia Tech alum has always played well at Augusta, and he starts the day three shots back of the lead. Like Snedeker, Kuchar is a seasoned American player who has taken off in recent years, capped by his Players Championship win last year. He backed that up with the WGC-Match Play title earlier this season, and his game is in form to shoot in the 60s at a track where he's comfortable. Kuchar went out in 33 yesterday, and it he starts that way today, he'll quickly share the lead. He's a great bet to be the one to come from behind.
No. 4: Adam Scott, 6-under -- 7/2 odds -- 2:30 p.m. ET
The Aussie was a favorite to win at the start of the week, but can he finally break his country's curse of never winning at Augusta. From Greg Norman to Scott and Jason Day in 2011, Aussies have had several close calls but never won a green jacket. Scott is in sole possession of second place, just one shot off the lead. But it's hard to take him, given his recent Sunday history at the majors. It won't be surprising to see him win it, but there are better options.
No. 5: Jason Day, 5-under -- 8/1 odds -- 2:20 p.m. ET
The 2011 runner-up gave away played 16 holes without a bogey on Saturday, and then he promptly gave away two shots on the final two holes. It was some shaky putting that sent Day's round off the tracks, ruining his chance at what would have been a share of the 54-hole lead. Prior to those last two holes, Day had carded pars on every single hole, save for a birdie on the par-5 13th. It's hard to erase the gag ending on Saturday evening, but Day is another player who's always under par on Augusta. He'll need more than just 12 straight pars at the start, and will need to get birdie early to wipe away the nerves from that finish last night.
No. 6: Tiger Woods, 3-under -- 11/2 odds -- 2:10 p.m. ET
Tiger starts four shots back from the lead, and is 0 for 46 at the majors when he has to come from behind. As I wrote this morning, he's certainly capable of posting a number that would make up that deficit, but there's little margin for error. He must make birdies, or eagles, on three of the four par-5s and avoid any early bogeys, particularly at No. 1, his worst aggregate hole at Augusta.
More than any other major, the Masters provides an opportunity for a super low Sunday round. While Tiger has never mounted a Sunday come-from-behind charge, he's still the best best to ignite the crowds ahead of the final pairing, and pull off the best Sunday round of his career. Here's more on what he needs to do today to win.
No. 7: Tim Clark, 3-under -- 55/1 odds -- 2:10 p.m. ET
The low round of the day on Saturday, Clark was on pace for a 66 until he bogeyed the last. The diminutive South African has his game back in order after injuries interrupted the past few seasons. He pushed Russell Henley in Hawaii early this year, and has been on the first page of the board throughout the first three months of the season. The former Masters runner-up will be playing in front of the chaotic galleries that follow his playing parter, Tiger Woods. It will be tough for him to match that 67 on Saturday and besides, we can't have an anchored putter win this thing -- there's already been too much controversy this week.
No. 8: Steve Stricker, 2-under -- 66/1 odds -- 2:00 p.m. ET
He and Snedeker can battle over honors as best putter in the field this week. Stricker's career rejuvenation story is well-known, as he's become one of the elite players in the world in his 40s. But he's still without a major, which is incredible given his putting ability and consistency. Like Day, however, Stricker threw away two shots late, putting it all over the place on No. 18 and finished with a double bogey. He'll be fine on the greens on Sunday, but that last hole in the third round will be hard to overcome.
No. 9: Marc Leishman, 5-under -- 20/1 odds -- 2:30 p.m. ET
The third Aussie on the first page of the leaderboard is the one outlier, relatively untested at the majors on Sunday. Despite the lack of name recognition, he's extremely talented and won rookie of the year honors in 2009. But his best finish at a major is a T27 at last year's PGA Championship and he hasn't broken par since his opening round 66. If there's an Aussie to break the curse, it should be Scott or Day.
No. 10: Lee Westwood, 2-under -- 401 odds -- 1:50 p.m. ET
The Brit is still search for a major win, and this will be another near-miss. Westwood is always hanging around at the majors, but his putter always goes off line at the biggest moments. He's still one of the best ball-strikers in the world, and that carried him to No. 1 in the world at one point. With five shots to make up, it's hard to see Westwood being the one to roll in the birdie putts and close the deficit. Stricker is the best option of the group at 2-under.
No. 11: Jim Furyk, 2-under -- 66/1 odds -- 1:40 p.m. ET
Since playing the first eight holes in 4-under, Furyk has struggled to find any consistency, and now sits at 2-under. Big numbers at No. 15 on Friday and No. 4 on Saturday came at a huge cost. It's been a strong start to the year for Furyk, but his final round record last year was extremely shaky. He'll need a start comparable to that stretch on Thursday in order to just get in the mix.
No. 12: Rickie Fowler, 2-under -- 50/1 odds -- 2:00 p.m. ET
Rickie is another player who's been done in by a couple blow-up holes. He should be right up there with Snedeker, Scott, and Cabrera, but two double bogeys on Thursday and a triple on Friday have him sitting five shots off the lead. Things smoothed out on Saturday, and he made just one bogey on his way in to a 70. Rickie will need to fire the perfect round, and given the need to aggressively go right at the pins, there will be collateral damage and some bogeys
No. 13: Bernhard Langer, 2-under -- 150/1 odds -- 1:50 p.m. ET
A 55-year-old staple and a two-time winner at Augusta, Langer replaced Fred Couples as the Champions Tour representative inside the top 10. Langer will be steady, hovering around or just under par, but a super-low number to chase down the leaders is a longshot.