With the 84th Masters beginning Thursday, the key question everyone’s asking is the same across the golf world: Who are you picking to win at Augusta National in November? In fact, that question has been asked for the last few months.
There’s a tremendous field featuring many of the best professionals and amateurs in the world set to take on Augusta National, making the final major of 2020 and first of the 2020-21 season an epic ride from Thursday’s first round onward.
The storylines are plentiful this week. Tiger Woods is defending his improbable but spectacular 2019 green jacket. Bryson DeChambeau has pledged to turn Augusta into a long-drive competition as the event favorite. Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson are looking to end the year as hot as they started it. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy is still looking for his first Masters, and Jordan Spieth is hoping to find some of the mojo he lost here a few years ago.
So what is going to happen this week at Augusta? Let’s take a look at a full set of predictions and picks from our CBS Sports experts. Check out a full set of odds via William Hill Sportsbook along with the tee times for Thursday’s first round.
2020 Masters expert picks, predictions
Kyle Porter, golf writer
Winner — Jon Rahm (10-1): I’m a bit concerned by all the hole-in-one attention he’s getting after skipping one in on the 16th on Tuesday, but he’s been the pick for over a month now. Over the last three months, nobody (not even Bryson DeChambeau) has been better off the tee, and he’s maybe the most complete of all the top guys. He’s already felt the heat of winning big-time events, so I don’t think that will be an issue. Feels like we get a trio of first-time major winners in 2020.
Sleeper — Bernd Wiesberger (200-1): Never missed a cut at a Masters, and his tee-to-green game has been equivalent with Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton over the last three months. That seems like pretty great value at 200-1! If you want somebody a little shorter, Louis Oosthuizen at 55-1 is your guy.
Top 10 lock — Dustin Johnson: Six straight top-six finishes and he’s finished in the top 10 here in each of his last four tries. I’m not sure if there’s any better one-two current form-history combo than that one for any of the top guys in this field.
Star who definitely won’t win — Tiger Woods: Does a 15-time major winner who is also the defending champion count as a star? Tiger is not going to go back to back to win a sixth green jacket, and I think he knows it. If we’re only talking about golfers at 20-1 or better, then I’ll say Brooks Koepka. His performance last week was a bit of fool’s gold given how well he putted it. (I should note that I also said Bryson would definitely not win the U.S. Open.)
Top 5 in order: Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele
Surprise prediction: I’ll get out ahead of this because it’s going to happen. DeChambeau will again destroy worlds off the tee, but he won’t win because he’ll be mediocre from 160 yards and in. Then critics (like me) will say, “See it doesn’t work!” Except that it does work. The point is not that DeChambeau is going to win every time out, only that he’s dialing up his odds of winning a bit heading into each tournament. In the long run, the results will be there, even if they won’t be there every single week.
Lowest round: 64 (-8)
Winning score: 271 (-17)
Winner’s Sunday score: 68 (-4)
Chip Patterson, writer
Winner — Jon Rahm (12-1): Some golfers have separated themselves from their peers off the tee, riding the power of massive drives to shorten courses and give themselves as many wedge shots as possible. Others have remained true to their iron play and separate themselves from the field on approach shots. Both are ways to win majors, as we’ve seen from both of the 2020 winners. But with Augusta being a true test of skill, I’m picking someone who checks all the boxes. Rahm has been one of the best tee-to-green players since the start of 2019, and it’s not all on the back of overwhelming driving distance or statistically elite performances on approach shots. His creativity and a bag full of shots makes him an enticing pick to win at the most unique edition of the Masters in this generation. With weather and daylight potentially impacting tee times and pairings, not to mention play, I think this creativity and willingness to adapt can be a benefit.
Sleeper — Justin Rose (50-1): We’re usually challenged to pick a deeper sleeper (golfer with longer odds than this), but I have to call attention to this incredible value. Rose is a major champion with two runner-up finishes at the Masters since 2015. His game has been all over the place this year thanks in part to some equipment changes, but his ceiling absolutely includes an outright win. Rose is listed on the board at the same price as Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth, and he’s got way more of a major championship pedigree than Scheffler and more recent success than Spieth. Rose should be closer to the players at 25-1 or 30-1, so I can’t pass up this value.
Top 10 lock — Patrick Cantlay: Sniffed the lead during the hectic back nine in 2019 and has been one of the more consistent players on the PGA Tour ever since. Cantlay has a ton of momentum right now with a T8 at the Shriners and a win at the Zozo Championship at Sherwood, and plenty of motivation after two frustrating performances at the first two majors of 2020.
Star who definitely won’t win — Rory McIlroy: I’m rooting for McIlroy to finish the slam and win the Masters, but I don’t think this is going to be the year. There are just a few too many errors in his performances to think this will be the year he finally gets it done. By McIlroy’s own admission, he’s carding enough birdies to win golf tournaments but the bogeys, missed putts and mishits pile up to leave him short of where he wants to be at the end of 72 holes.
Top 5 in order: Jon Rahm, Matthew Wolff, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau
Surprise prediction: For all the pre-championship hype and analysis regarding driving distance and strokes gained off the tee, watch good, old-fashioned putting and work around the greens end up being a difference-maker in who puts on the green jacket on Sunday. We haven’t seen the greens in this climate before, but thanks to sub-air and an army of elite agrarians, I trust we’ll see the competition leveled off as they get closer to the hole.
Lowest round: 64 (-8)
Winning score: 273 (-15)
Winner’s Sunday score: 69 (-3)
Who will win the Masters, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine to see the projected leaderboard, all from the model that has nailed six golf majors and called Patrick reed’s big win two years ago.
Kyle Boone, writer
Winner — Brooks Koepka (16-1): After withdrawing from the U.S. Open and battling injuries throughout most of the last year, there’s some obvious skepticism that the Koepka we get this week may not be the same Koepka we’ve seen at his peak. But even at less than 100%, he’s been in the mix of things. Coming off a top-5 finish at the Vivint Houston Open last week, he seems to be hitting his stride again and finding health at just the right time.
Sleeper — Patrick Reed (28-1): The 2018 Masters champion has quietly put together a nice string of golf the last few months with a T8 finish at the Tour Championship and T13 finishes at both the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open to show for it. So in his quest for his second career green jacket, he has momentum at his sails. And he’s typically played well at Augusta National, only missing the cut twice in his six showings.
Top 10 lock — Dustin Johnson (9-1): D.J. had to withdraw from two events earlier this fall as he battled COVID-19, so his wicked good year has been blurred a bit. Prior to that, he finished T6 at the U.S. Open and finished second or better at the PGA Championship, the Northern Trust, the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship. DeChambeau is getting the attention this week because of how he approaches the course with his driver, but D.J. should arguably be the favorite after the way he’s consistently performed the last few months.
Star who definitely won’t win — Rory McIlroy: Five times in the last six years, McIlroy has posted a top-10 finish at the Masters. But he’s not finished better than fourth, and he still hasn’t managed to get over the hump. Though he has played well this year, this just doesn’t feel like the setup where he walks into his first green jacket.
Top 5 in order: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele
Surprise prediction: Tiger Woods misses the cut. Maybe not that surprising of a prediction considering how his year has gone. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open and wasn’t really in contention at the PGA Championship or any of the last five competitions he’s played. But Woods is the defending champion and one of the best to ever play Augusta. Perhaps he channels some 2019 magic, and I’m absolutely here for it if he does, but it feels like an early ejection is where he’s headed after a pretty disappointing season for him overall.
Lowest round: 64 (-8)
Winning score: 273 (-15)
Winner’s Sunday score: 70 (-2)
Play along with this week’s golf action and compete to win $5,000 in guaranteed cash with CBS Sports Golf Props. All you need to do is answer some quick questions about the upcoming major and you’re in contention! Join now for your chance to win. Terms apply.