Finding your Masters spirit golfer

The next Tiger: Rory McIlroy In Woods’ absence, Irishman Rory McIlroy has risen to the top spot in the world, claiming each of the past two majors. A win on Sunday would complete McIlroy’s career grand slam, elevating him to the clear front-runner for the foreseeable future. If you’re the type of fan who likes to see a singular athlete dominate a sport, Rory is your best chance in golf today. PGA Tour wins: 9 Major wins: 4 Best Masters finish: T-8, 2014 (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
The anti-Tiger: Phil Mickelson Yes, America’s dad is still lumbering his way around the course, though not nearly as successfully as he did a few years ago. His second-place finish at last year’s PGA Championship was his only one in the top 20 among the majors, and he missed the cut at Augusta. In fact, since Phil’s stunning run of eight top-five finishes and three green jackets in 10 years from 2001-10, he has finished better than 27th just once at the Masters since. PGA Tour wins: 42 Major wins: 5 Best Masters finish: 1st, 2004/2006/2010 (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The Waffle House Champion: Bubba Watson Winner of two of the past three at Augusta, Florida Panhandle native Bubba Watson is just the kind of local favorite the crowds love to get behind. He’s best known for celebrating his 2014 championship at Waffle House, but is not allowed to serve that (or any other corporate-branded food) as his official Masters champions dinner, which the defending champion hosts. As much as he may be a man of the people, though, he doesn’t seem to be the most popular man on tour. PGA Tour wins: 7 Major wins: 2 Best Masters finish: 1st, 2012 and 2014 (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
The next great American hope: Jordan Spieth With Tiger’s questionable future and Rory’s sudden rise, Americans no longer reign atop the sport. The two in the top five are Watson, 36, and the 21-year-old Spieth. He has yet to win a major tournament, but clearly has the most upside of any young American in the sport, and tied for second last year at Augusta. PGA Tour wins: 2 Major wins: none Best Masters finish: T-2, 2014 (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
Your crazy uncle: Miguel Angel Jimenez You know who he is. He’s that crazy Spaniard, smoking cigars and gyrating around the course with his ponytail hanging out the back of his visor. He’s also got four top-10 Masters finishes over the past 14 years (and was 11th in 2006), coming in fourth last year. He’s made the cut each year he has played except once since 2000. PGA Tour wins: none, but 21 on European Tour Major wins: none Best Masters finish: 4th, 2014 (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
The Duf: Jason Dufner Yes, Jason Dufner’s nickname is actually a term used for a bad golfer. He’s got a gut, and curls spilling out the bottom of his cap. He’s the guy who showed up late and comes scrambling out to the tee to join your group. And then he beats the pants off all of you. PGA Tour wins: 3 Major wins: 1 Best Masters finish: T-20, 2013 (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
The pretty boy: Rickie Fowler He’s flashes rock-star haircuts, wears flat brims and neon duds and generally looks like he belongs more in a boy band than professional sports. He even spells his name “Rickie.” He’s just the sort of young punk who gets the older generation all up in arms and get-off-my-lawny. Hate the stuffy establishment? Here’s your guy. PGA Tour wins: 1 Major wins: none Best Masters finish: T-5, 2014 (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
The best name: Gunn Yang Every year, a handful of amateurs get to play in the Masters, and every now and then one of them makes the cut and becomes a media darling. The best name in this year’s amateur crop belongs to South Korean-born Gunn Yang, a 21-year-old San Diego State student who captured the 2014 U.S. Amateur title. He’ll get plenty of attention in his opening round, as he’s paired with defending champ Bubba Watson. PGA Tour wins: N/A Major wins: N/A Best Masters finish: N/A (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
The best ‘stache: Hunter Mahan Look at that beauty. If Mahan shows up clean-shaven, you’ll have to pick someone else. PGA Tour wins: 6 Major wins: none Best Masters finish: T-8, 2010 (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)
If you hate your golf coach: Jim Furyk “Look at that guy! His swing is awful! And he’s won the U.S. Open!” Yes, Jim Furyk gives hope to all of our broken golf swings. There’s no way that ratchety, disjointed hack should work, yet there he is scoring in the 60s. PGA Tour wins: 16 Major wins: 1 Best Masters finish: 4th, 1998/2003 (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
The old guy: Tom Watson Seriously, Tom Watson’s still playing? The 65-year-old is one of the more decorated players in tour history, but he’s made the cut at the Masters just once since 2003. He did make a great run at The Open Championship, finishing second in 2009, but has just one top-20 finish in a major this decade. If you’re looking for a not-quite-as-old guy who might have a better chance of making the weekend, Fred Couples, 55, has notched five straight top-20 finishes at Augusta. But if you’re all in on the old man fighting father time with each swipe of his driver, Watson’s your guy. PGA Tour wins: 39 Major wins: 8 Best Masters finish: 1st, 1977/1981 (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
The contrarian: Mike Weir Still one of the most surprising winners in Masters history, Weir came out of nowhere to take the 2003 green jacket. While he’s enjoyed some success since then, he’s ranked 361st in the world coming into Augusta. But he’s a lefty. And he’s Canadian. Enough said. PGA Tour wins: 8 Major wins: 1 Best Masters finish: 1st, 2003 (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
The breakthrough: Sergio Garcia Once thought of as the best chance to rival Tiger Woods, Garcia has fallen just shy of expectations time and time again. It’s almost a surprise to look up and see his name among the top 10 golfers in the world, ranking ninth heading into this weekend. But the Spaniard has finished in the top five of every major in his career, and has more than 20 wins scattered among various tours. At 35, could he finally break through on golf’s biggest stage? PGA Tour wins: 8 Major wins: none Best Masters finish: T-4, 2004 (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
The return of Tiger: Tiger Woods Some people love Tiger. Some people love to hate Tiger. At least one of those groups will get what they want this weekend, as Woods returns to the course for the first time since withdrawing at Torrey Pines nine weeks ago. He has sunk to 11th in the world, but has won four times at Augusta. He hasn’t taken a major since 2008, but finished in the top six in at least one every year until 2014. All eyes will be on Woods to see whether he makes the cut, and if he does, to see whether he can compete into Sunday. It will be nothing if not compelling. PGA Tour wins: 79 Major wins: 14 Best Masters finish: 1st, 1997/2001/2002/2005 (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

WASHINGTON — The Masters, CBS will tell you, is a tradition unlike any other. But it can also be a stuffy, boring presentation of golf by people who think that’s what golf should be, while Jim Nantz’s stage whisper lulls us to sleep on the couch.

But golf doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t all have to be about Tiger Woods, as much as the cameras will train in on him this week. The game is full of plenty of stories and personalities. No matter what yours is, find the one that best aligns with your disposition so you can best enjoy golf’s biggest week.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up