World's top 10 ripe for breakthrough Masters win

World No. 1 Justin Rose of England will be hoping he can get a Green Jacket to match his trousers on Sunday.
World No. 1 Justin Rose of England will be hoping he can get a Green Jacket to match his trousers on Sunday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

AUGUSTA (Georgia) • There is a Major hole on the career accomplishments list for the world's top-10 ranked golfers this week at Augusta National - none of them own a champion's Green Jacket.

It is the first time since the global rankings began in 1986 that the 10 best golfers, including world No. 1 Justin Rose, arrive at the year's first Major tournament without having won the Masters.

However, the Englishman feels that "this year, there's probably a very good probability that one of those guys will get it done".

He said: "If you look at the skill sets of the guys at the top of the world rankings, Augusta really should suit most of us.

"I use it (my ranking) as maybe a little inspiration, certainly not as an expectation. Clearly to win a Major as No. 1 would be even more fantastic. Confidence is up there.

"I've had enough good golf to give me confidence and I've had enough poor golf to keep me working hard, which is sometimes a good place to be."

And the likelihood of a breakthrough is high, given the heavy hitters in the elite group.

  • GOLF'S TOP 10 THIS WEEK: THEIR BEST MASTERS SHOWING

  • 1 Justin Rose (Age: 38, Eng)

    BEST: 2nd in 2017 (play-off)

    T2 in 2015


    2 Dustin Johnson (34, USA)

    BEST: T4 in 2016


    3 Rory McIlroy (29, Nir)

    BEST: 4th in 2015


    4 Brooks Koepka (28, USA)

    BEST: T11 in 2017


    5 Justin Thomas (25, USA)

    BEST: T17 in 2018


    6 Bryson DeChambeau (25, USA)

    BEST: T21 in 2016


    7 Francesco Molinari (36, Ita)

    BEST: T19 in 2012


    8 Jon Rahm (24, Esp)

    BEST: 4th in 2018


    9 Rickie Fowler (30, USA)

    BEST: 2nd in 2018


    10 Xander Schauffele (25, USA)

    BEST: T50 in 2018

Third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, a four-time Major winner, needs a Masters win to become only the sixth golfer to complete a career Grand Slam.

There is also a trio of Americans that have Major wins to their name, including second-ranked Dustin Johnson and three-time Major winner Brooks Koepka.

Fifth-ranked Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, believes "it is just a coincidence that nobody in the top 10 has won the Masters and it definitely speaks to the new wave of players".

Three more top-level players are seeking their first Major title - Americans Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele.

Throw British Open champion Francesco Molinari of Italy and Spaniard Jon Rahm, who shared fourth last year in only his second Masters start, to the mix and there is an element of extra hunger under the Georgia pines this week.

Eighth-ranked Rahm will also draw on experience ahead of tomorrow's opening round, which is that "Augusta National, except for the par-fives, plays over par".

He added: "So if you make par, don't get frustrated. That's just the way it is around this course.

"I hope my putting is a lot better than last year. I feel strong in every part of my game. I just want to make a few more putts."

The only golfer among the world's top 16 who has won the Masters is 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods (12th), although the American won the last of his four Green Jackets in 2005.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2019, with the headline 'World's top 10 ripe for breakthrough Masters win'. Print Edition | Subscribe