Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Power rankings: The Masters

The Masters has its smallest field -- 89 players -- this year since 2002. In one sense, that should make it a little easier to identify a potential champion. In another sense, with so many players in good form now and with historically good records at Augusta National, it's hard to favor any one top player over another.

However, here are our top 10 players for the Masters:

1. Bubba Watson -- Watson has been brilliant through the season and finished in the top 15 in four of five stroke-play starts this year. He's a two-time champion, brimming with confidence after a win at Riviera (which he did in 2014 before winning a second green jacket) and a runner-up at Doral.

2. Jason Day -- Day has won his last two starts, including a hang-on win at Bay Hill and a dominant performance at the WGC-Dell Match Play. Runner-up in 2011 to Charl Schwartzel and on the medal stand in 2013.

3. Adam Scott -- Were it not for Day's double, Scott may well be the guy everyone is talking about for the Masters. He won back to back at Honda and Doral and he has been in the top 15 at the Masters in four of the last five years.

4. Jordan Spieth -- In his two professional Masters starts, Spieth has gone T-2 and WIN. That's good. However, Spieth has showed cracks in his game and mental approach. He has been inconsistent and makes some course management mistakes. He cannot make those at Augusta.

5. Rory McIlroy -- McIlroy is skipping the Par-3 Contest in hopes of remaining focused on a fifth major and completed the career Grand Slam. Confidence builder in getting to the semis of the Match Play, but he's been somewhat lousy in at least one round in his last three stroke-play events.

6. Phil Mickelson -- At 45, Mickelson is still playing great golf. He had chances at the old Hope and Pebble Beach. Was fifth at Doral. Three-time winner who knows how to close at Augusta National and almost a mortal lock to make the cut.

7. Henrik Stenson -- Alright, Henrik Stenson has a bad record at the Masters. And it doesn't make sense. He has one top-15 in the last five years. But, he went T-11 at Valspar and T-3 at Bay Hill. He had a chance in Houston. He's in the argument of being the best tee-to-green player on the planet.

8. Louis Oosthuizen -- Oosthuizen has played limited golf on the PGA Tour this year, but he had improved his finish in every start leading to a runner-up finish at the Match Play before a missed cut at Houston. He won in Australia before going to Doral. Downside? The playoff loss to Bubba in 2012 is his only top-15 in the last five years.

9. Justin Rose -- Rose could somehow manage to fly under the radar this week despite having four top-15 finishes in the last five years. After a zany MC at Torrey Pines, he's been in the top 17 in his last four PGA Tour starts.

10. Rickie Fowler -- Had they played this Masters in February, Rickie would have been No. 1 on our list. He won in Abu Dhabi against a strong field. He lost to Hideki Matsuyama in a playoff in Phoenix. He's been in the top 12 here in each of the last two years.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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