How great does it feel to be able to ask the key question on most everyone’s mind across the golf world: Who are you picking to win at Augusta National in April? The 85th edition of the Masters has just about arrived. And with a tremendous field featuring most of the best professionals and a few of the top amateurs in the world, the first major of 2021 should be an epic ride from Thursday’s first round onward.
The Masters storylines are plentiful this week. Dustin Johnson is looking to become the fourth golfer to win back-to-back green jackets, while Rory McIlroy remains in the hunt for his first. Unfortunately for McIlroy, he’s not playing at his highest level at this time, which puts him further back on the odds board than he’d otherwise sit.
Justin Thomas — as the winner of the 2021 Players Championship — is hot entering the event, but so is Jordan Spieth, who has not only had an incredible start to 2021 but just won the Texas Open on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory since 2017. Both will be in Featured Groups on Thursday. Be sure to check our 2021 Masters coverage guide for more information on how to watch the event live.
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 2021 Masters odds via William Hill Sportsbook and 2021 Masters tee times to see when your favorite golfers will take the course.
2021 Masters expert picks, predictions
Kyle Porter, golf writer
Winner — Jordan Spieth (10-1): Well, I’m all in at this point. Might as well make it official. Try to ignore the Texas Open victory if you can and focus on the fact that he’s tops when it comes to recent iron play and history on this golf course. Last week’s win may have relaxed him a bit, though I have no idea if it’s even good for Spieth to be relaxed. Either way, he’ll contend (and I think, win) because he’s unbelievably smart on this golf course and he’s gained strokes on approach shots in 22 of his last 25 stroke-play rounds. The rumors are true, people. He’s back, and he’s been back for a while.
Sleeper — Sergio Garcia (45-1): I know I will regret this, but I cannot help myself. Since Feb. 1, only Paul Casey has hit the ball better than Garcia. I’m concerned about his recent history at major championships (nine missed cuts since his win here in 2017), but he has win equity at massive events, and the tee-to-green numbers (2.35 strokes gained per round since Feb. 1, according to Data Golf) are difficult to ignore.
Top 10 lock — Dustin Johnson: It seems amid the Spieth hoopla like we have all forgotten about the No. 1 player in the world and defending champion of this event. He has five straight top 10s here and has only lost to Tiger Woods in his last two outings. A tough course should actually benefit what he does best, and some of his recent struggles (if you want to call them that) have been on account of some unusually poor putting, which is far less concerning than if he was not hitting the ball well.
Star who definitely won’t win — Brooks Koepka: Does this count? Only one player in the field has more majors than Koepka, who won back in February, but I don’t buy into the bravado about being able to gut it out this week. It’s unfortunate because Koepka provides a nice depth to major championships, but I would be absolutely stunned if he came in and won this after undergoing a knee procedure and showing up at the tournament with no real tournament work in the weeks leading into it.
Surprise prediction: Phil Mickelson gets into contention at some point. Again, I don’t know how bold it is to say that a three-time Masters champion is going to play well at the Masters, but Lefty has also dropped out of the top 100 in the Official World Golf Rankings and does not have a top 10 here since 2015. However, he’s been flushing his irons, and on a tough, speedy setup, his course knowledge will be disproportionately valuable. I don’t know that it will run all the way until Sunday, but I think Mickelson might have himself a fun little week around Augusta National.
Lowest round: 66 (-6)
Winning score: 278 (-10)
Winner’s Sunday score: 70 (-2)
Chip Patterson, writer
Winner — Dustin Johnson (8-1): When D.J. capped his 20-under win in November, I immediately considered him my pick to run it back. It’s not specifically the way he managed the course and the current state of his game as the No. 1 player in the world but rather how the 2020 win was the culmination of recent success at Augusta National. Since 2015, D.J. has finished in the top 10 of every Masters start with a T2 in 2019 and a T4 in 2016. So often we refer to the course history and discuss who has “figured out the Rubik’s cube,” and the results clearly point to D.J. being one of those golfers who has got the game plan to win. The only reason to bet against D.J. prior was a belief that all…