Masters 2019: Assessing the chances of the roughly 317 people in contention after 36 holes
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Congratulations. If you’ve secured a tee time at Augusta National on Saturday, you have made the cut in the 2019 Masters, and you probably have a very good chance of winning! How do we know? Because pretty much anyone who made the cut here this week is within reach of a green jacket.
Hyperbole perhaps, but consider the math. Of the (record) 65 players who made the 36-hole cut at three over par, 49 are within eight shots of the lead, which for historical purposes, equals the deficit Jackie Burke Jr. erased over 36 holes to complete the biggest comeback in Masters history. Naturally, some players have better chances than others (more math!), which is why we’ve divided those players into this easy-to-follow breakdown of contenders. Try to keep up.
What size jacket do you wear?
These are your safest bets, your no-sh!t contenders, all of whom are good enough and perhaps arrogant enough to not be the slightest bit surprised to be teeing off late on Saturday. All are recent major champions — Francesco Molinari and Brooks Koepka at seven under, Dustin Johnson another stroke back. None have gone so far to already pick the Champions Dinner menu, but they’ve at least made mental notes on possible appetizers.
Have a very good chance provided not slide-tackled by overzealous security guards
This, of course, applies to Tiger Woods, who is a stroke off the lead in his pursuit of a fifth green jacket, but who came within inches of spending the weekend in a walking boot. But the same can also be said for just-cover-the-guy-in-bubble wrap Jason Day, who was nursing a tender back on Thursday and is now tied for the lead as well. Both certainly have the game and pedigree to win this week. Caveat: Both players would need to remain upright.
Of course we didn’t forget about you
Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott are two major champions who probably shouldn’t play together for fear of hypnotizing galleries with their perfect golf swings. Both are tied for the lead as well, but they’re also a healthy distance removed from their respective landmark wins. It’s possible they could each claim a second major this week, but it’s also possible they revert to recent form and fade over the weekend.
Obligatory mention of very good-to-excellent golfers
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Certain guys you now expect to regularly factor into a major conversation, and here they are. We’re talking about Xander Schauffele (six under) and Jon Rahm (five under), but while we’re at it, let’s throw in Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland and Justin Thomas (three under), and Kevin Kisner and Tommy Fleetwood (both two under). All have either won a major title (Thomas), strongly flirted with the possibility or at least think to pack nice clothes for the weekend. None of these wins would be shocking on their own, but it just might require some help from the assortment of players and clumsy security guards in the groups ahead.
The guy belongs in his own category. He's three shots back, has three Masters titles. Discuss amongst yourselves.
Also sort of a mold-breaker. He is four shots off the lead, and if he ends up winning, this shot probably rivals Hogan’s 1-iron as the great approach shot in history.
Thank you for your patience
Ian Poulter (five under), Matt Kuchar (four under), and Rickie Fowler (three under) have paid their dues, they’ve knocked on the door and any other cliche you can think of that describes someone who is perhaps overdue to win a major. It could happen this week! Spoiler alert: It probably won’t.
Friends and family should at least investigate flights
We’re throwing almost everyone else in this category. That includes Justin Harding at six under, Patton Kizzire at four under and recent Tiger slayer Lucas Bjerregaard (three under). All of these players would be incredibly popular winners in their respective zip codes. Before you dismiss them outright, however, we direct you to the Danny Willett section of your media guide.
Players who will at least be shown putting out on 18
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Fair to say if Jordan Spieth (one under) and Rory McIlroy (even par) were not named “Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy,” we would probably gloss over their names as well. Both presumably are too far back to seriously contend, but both are playing early enough on Saturday to perhaps take advantage of soft conditions and make up ground on the leader board. So we’re saying there’s a chance.
Just like with pretty much everyone else.