Like many golfers, I never consider it officially spring until the Masters gets under way in early April. It’s easy to do that in New England this year, as the never ending winter seems to rage on and temperatures fight to get above 40 degrees. But soon enough we’ll all be treated to the views of Magnolia Lane, Rae’s Creek, and Amen Corner as we watch the world’s best make their way around Augusta National. Tiger Woods is not playing play in the seasons’ first major due to the lower back pain he’s been suffering from all season. Even if he was able to tee it up, judging from his showings so far this year, it would have seemed unlikely for him to capture his 15th major.


Top 5 Power Rankings for The Masters

1. Jason Day – Last year Jason Day showed us that he will be a name to be reckoned with in the majors for many years to come. Finished 3rd at the Masters (also T2 in 2011), T2 at the US Open, and T8 at the PGA Championship. So far this year in his limited schedule he’s won the WGC Accenture Match Play and finished T2 at the Farmers Insurance Open.

2. Dustin Johnson – So far this season DJ hasn’t finished worse than T6 in a stroke play event. He leads the TOUR in the All-Around Ranking and Scoring Average, and is also second in GIR. His best finish at the Masters is a T13 in last year’s appearance. He certainly has the length to dominate Augusta National, but it will come down to his putting stroke on those slick greens. However his putting is much improved so far this year, where he ranks 10th in Strokes Gained-Putting compared to 117th in 2013.

3. Adam Scott – All eyes will be on the returning champion and first Aussie ever to don the green jacket.  His limiited playing schedule paid off well last year and he’s doing the same in 2014. With three top 10s out of five appearances so far in 2014 his game seems to be right where he left off last year. Despite tossing away the lead onf the final day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational to ultimately finish 3rd, those first three days he looked dominant. He ranks 2nd in the All-Around Ranking on TOUR.

4. Rory McIlroy – All signs are pointing to Rory’s game being back and that we’re giving him a mulligan for the 2013 season in which he only recorded four top 10 finishes.  The two-time major winner is still in search of his first green jacket, after squandering away a sizable lead on Sunday in 2011. He certainly showed flashes of his old self at the Honda Classic this year where he held the 54- hole lead only to shoot 74 on Sunday and then lose in a playoff to Russell Henley.

5. Bubba Watson – The 2012 Masters Champion was on a tear in 2014 until he was derailed at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, shooting an opening round 83 (which included an 11 on a par 5), and ultimately withdrawing from the event. Before that though he won the Northern Trust Open and had two other T2 finishes as well as two other top 10s. Not surprisingly he leads the TOUR in Driving Distance. He has the length, ball flight, and shot creativity to navigate Augusta National, as we’ve already seen.

Jeff Palopoli is a columnist and frequent contributor to NEGM. His Fantasy Golf Picks can be found weekly on www.mynegm.com as well as on his blog at www.goodwalkreviews.com. He can be reached at jeff@goodwalkgolf.com.