Augusta, Ga. - 

Good morning from Augusta National. While we wait for the ceremonial tee shots, here are a few of my favorites.

Now, it's hard enough to pick a winner in a game between two teams. I'm not going to accurately predict the winner of The Masters, but let me throw out a few intriguing possibilities.

The favorite:

I'll take Rory McIlroy.

The green jackets lengthened the already-difficult par-4 fifth hole, meaning there is now another hole on this course that requires a long, high, draw (for a righthanded golfer) to have any chance at birdie. They've also made the green more receptive to approaches. This is the kind of change that benefits a small number of long hitters, and McIlroy, with his long, high, draw, may benefit the most.

He's confident, playing well, and probably should have won The Masters once by now.

The sleeper

Patrick Reed would have been considered a sleeper last year, and he ran away with the tournament. This year, Hideki Matsuyama is the world-class golfer drawing little attention. He'll need to improve his putting this week to have a chance, but we've seen players get hot for a week and win here. Remember Adam Scott?

The big-name long-shot

Jordan Spieth has finished second, first, second, 11th and third at The Masters. But his finishes may haunt him. He should have won in 2016 but hit two balls into the water on No. 12. He's playing poorly and seems to be in denial. He ranks 109th in scoring average this season.

What's in a name?

If you have to choose one given name to win it, it would be Justin. Justin Thomas has the ball flight, power and short-game chops to win here, and Justin Rose has the kind of major-tested game that can win anywhere.

Don't forget about

Brooks Koepka has won three of the last seven majors. If he hadn't gone on a diet that caused him to lose weight and power, he might be the favorite this week.

Enjoy the tournament. The weather is supposed to be mild and beautiful today, with rain threatening the weekend.

You can follow the Masters leaderboard here.


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