The Masters: Rob Lee assesses the chances of nine Englishman at Augusta
Last Updated: 04/04/18 3:19pm
With nine English players in the field at the Masters, over 10 per cent of the field, Rob Lee gives us the lowdown on their chances of contending at Augusta National.
I feel Justin will be a real runner here this week. He will be a feature on Sunday in my opinion, and hopefully he can go one better than last year.
He had a nice warm-up in Houston last week after opting to skip the Match Play, and he's been super-consistent for months now. He feels he is playing better than at this point 12 months ago, and he comes to Augusta with all the credentials to win his first Green Jacket.
Paul hasn't finished outside the top six in the last three Masters, and he'll be confident of another strong challenge after his superb win at the Valspar. He knows how to put together a decent score at Augusta and, with his renewed confidence, I'd love to see him play well.
If you have problems getting over the line when in contention, the best way to win is to post a great score ahead of the last groups. You emerge from the pack, accelerate through the field, and put up a number that nobody gets to. And that's exactly what he did in Tampa last month.
But it won't matter to Paul how he won it, but what he will gain confidence from is how he performed over the last two or three holes at the Valspar. He knew he couldn't drop a shot, and he was clutch down the stretch and holed out impressively.
What a win for him in Houston, and there were many who did not see that coming - particularly after what happened to him at the Match Play.
He got through to the quarter-finals in Austin and was initially told he was guaranteed a place in the world's top 50, and therefore a place in the Masters. As it turned out, the maths worked against him and he found out 10 minutes before he teed off against Kevin Kisner, which ended in an 8&6 win for the American.
Then Ian shot 73 in the first round at the Houston Open and was packing his bags, so to come back from that, put together three brilliant rounds and win in a play-off to get the last spot at Augusta, that is an amazing achievement.
We also saw him pumped up to levels we had previously seen only at the Ryder Cup and, if he can take that form and passion into the Masters, he can have another excellent week here.
Hatton is a phenomenal player, and also a "big-time" player in my opinion. So that bodes well for some good performances in the majors this year, and then the Ryder Cup in the autumn.
Tyrrell is not one to shy away from anything or back off in any way. He's not a guy to finish fifth and declare he's had a great week, and that attitude will be an asset at Augusta.
Tommy is a great ball-striker and likes to hit a high draw, which is perfectly suited to Augusta National. He's had an incredible 18 months, and coming here as European No 1 is a great lift for the spirits.
He started with a 78 in the tough, breezy conditions at the Masters 12 months ago, but he got himself back on track with a good front nine on Friday only to drop four shots in seven holes and miss the cut by two.
But Tommy will learn from that experience, and he's got every chance of getting into the mix this week.
His results here are pretty good, a tie for seventh in 2016 and just outside the top 30 last year, although I wouldn't say this is a course that suits his game.
Matt has gone a little off the boil since starting 2018 with a tie for third in Abu Dhabi, but he's hugely talented and can draw on positive memories of his last two visits to Augusta.
He's here for the experience, and his first goal will be to make the cut and then kick on over the weekend to try and finish as leading amateur.
I remember years ago when Gordon Sherry won the Amateur Championship to earn a place at the Masters the following year, and he said he was going to Augusta to win. He didn't make the cut!
There's no point saying that bearing in mind the record of debutants here, both professional and amateur, and Harry needs to soak up the experience and enjoy being here.
Sometimes you win a major and your career goes stellar, but sometimes you win a major and it has the opposite effect. Many pro golfers would trade 100 wins for one Green Jacket, but Danny's had a lean time since his win here two years ago.
He's had his injury problems, changed coaches, but I do believe there are signs that he's back on track, and you don't become a bad player overnight. He's here as a past champion, but he's in a stage of his career where he's trying to rebuild his confidence.
Fifteen of the last 18 Masters champions have finished the week inside the top six in the ball-striking statistics, and that is Ross Fisher's game.
He's missed the cut only once in five appearances at Augusta, although his best result is a tie for 15th in 2011, so his first priority will be making the top 12 and earning a place in next year's Masters field. Ross is absolutely capable of that, and if his putter fires, who knows?