ESPN predictions on who takes home the green jacket

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The Masters has given us big-name winners. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson all have multiple green jackets. There have been some surprises, too, with Mike Weir, Danny Willett and Charl Schwartzel. So who walks away with the green jacket this time? Our crew of experts weighs in. And it won’t take long to notice one name coming up over and over.

Curtis Strange, ESPN
Winner: Justin Rose
Why he’ll win the green jacket: He has finished in the top 14 in eight of the past 11 years. He’s been runner-up twice in the past four years. He’s No. 2 in world rankings and a terrific ball striker with enormous confidence.

Scott Van Pelt, ESPN
Winner: Tony Finau
Why he’ll win the green jacket: This year he won’t jump in the air during the Par 3 Contest. Plus, he’s got the goods.

Andy North, ESPN
Winner: Francesco Molinari
Why he’ll win the green jacket: His confidence is high, great ball striker, great putter and has learned to love the big stage.

Bob Harig,
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win the green jacket: One of these times, Dustin Johnson is going to find the formula at Augusta National, so why not now? His form might not be quite to the level it was two years ago, when he rode his No. 1 ranking coming off of three straight victories into tournament week — only to be felled by a freak mishap in his rental home that caused a back injury. Johnson says he is close to the same level of play — and has consecutive top-10s in his past three appearances at the Masters.



Ahead of the Masters, Scott Van Pelt and Andy North make various predictions, including: the best finish for a player over 40, low American and winner of the tournament.

Ian O’Connor,
Winner: Rory McIlroy
Why he’ll win the green jacket: I picked him to win the Players, so I might as well try to go 2-for-2 at Augusta. McIlroy has been at or near top form all year. His disheartening loss to Tiger Woods at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play should light a new fire under him. Rory is simply too good to never win the Masters. His time is now to complete the career Grand Slam.

Michael Collins,
Winner: Rory McIlroy
Why he’ll win the green jacket: McIlroy has made it over every mental hurdle — except the Tiger Woods pairing. So as long as he’s not paired with the Big Cat this week, the tournament is his to lose. And yes, it is weird that Rory is ready to complete the career Grand Slam but not ready to win when paired with TW. But golf and life don’t have to make sense.

Trey Wingo, ESPN
Winner: Rory McIlroy
Why he’ll win the green jacket: If the putter is working, he joins the most exclusive club in golf.

Mike Golic, ESPN
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win the green jacket: This is a tough field to call, but this feels like it is going to be Dustin Johnson’s year.

Mark Schlabach,
Winner: Rickie Fowler
Why he’ll win the green jacket: Fowler has way too much talent to still be without a major championship. His drought ends this week, as it all comes together for the best player to never win a major. Fowler figured out how to handle his nerves and the ins and outs of Augusta National last year, when he fired 65-67 on the weekend to finish one shot behind winner Patrick Reed.

Sage Steele, ESPN
Winner: Brooks Koepka
Why he’ll win the green jacket: He’s back after missing last year’s Masters with a wrist injury. He plays extremely well in majors — winning three of the past five in which he’s played — and has improved significantly each of the three times he’s played here.

Kevin Van Valkenburg, ESPN The Magazine
Winner: Matt Kuchar
Why he’ll win the green jacket: It’s been a while since we’ve had a surprising winner at Augusta, and I think we’re due one. Kuchar would fit the bill. Everyone assumes the bombers have an advantage at Augusta National, but other than Bubba Watson, it doesn’t seem to translate into wins the past 10 years. Augusta is a second-shot golf course, and Kuchar is one of the best iron players in the game right now. It’s time for his Mark O’Meara moment.

Matt Barrie, ESPN
Winner: Rory McIlroy
Why he’ll win the green jacket: For the fifth time, Rory is going for the career Grand Slam. This time he gets it. Coming off a win at the Players last month, it’s clear his game is in top form. If the putter cooperates, this is his week.

Michael Eaves, ESPN
Winner: Rory McIlroy
Why he’ll win the green jacket: He’s never come to Augusta in better position to win. His play all season has prepared him for this very moment. That’s why I see him completing the career Slam and joining Tiger Woods as the only players to win the Players Championship and the Masters in the same year.

Chris Fallica, ESPN Stats & Information
Winner: Jon Rahm
Why he’ll win the green jacket: Rahm was in contention to win both the Masters and PGA last year but came up short. After an opening-round 75 last year at Augusta, his Friday-Saturday-Sunday score was two shots better than anyone else in the field. He’s contended before. Now it’s time to take the next step. He’ll pummel the par-5s, and his third trip to the Masters will result in him wearing the green jacket on Sunday.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz,
Winner: Justin Thomas
Why he’ll win the green jacket: There’s a lure to say this is Tiger’s week, but instead I’m leaning toward the guy who played a practice round with Tiger on Monday and joked that Tiger was a bit stingy with any advice about playing Augusta National. Aside from the motivation of sticking it to Tiger, Thomas has all the tools — to win here or anywhere. He’s proved that. He’s got three top-5 finishes this year, but no wins. He changes that in a big way this week.

Charlotte Gibson, ESPN The Magazine
Winner: Rory McIlroy
Why he’ll win the green jacket: Last year, Rory’s performance on Sunday at the Masters was less than ideal. And yet, it’s hard to ignore Rory’s history at the Masters. Not to mention, he has six straight top-10 finishes on tour this year, including his win at the Players (not including his T-9 at Match Play). With Rory’s knowledge of Augusta and his current form on point, I think we will see him wearing the green jacket on Sunday.

Peter Lawrence-Riddell,
Winner: Justin Rose
Why he’ll win the green jacket: Part of me wants to pick Rory McIlroy — he’s playing well, and it would be a great story — but I’m just not ready to totally go all in on him. Instead, I’m going with another European. Rose’s track record at the Masters is great — he’s been no worse than T-14 the past five years, including two second-place finishes (2017 and 2015). He’s off to a good start in 2019, with a win (Farmers Insurance) and four other top-10s in seven events (including the Hero World Challenge). Even if he doesn’t end up winning, Rose’s history at Augusta says he’ll be somewhere near the top of the leaderboard with a chance come Sunday.

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