Which rookie has best shot at a win?


Does anything smell as sweet as the start to Masters week? Although many parts of the country aren't feeling spring, at least this week's first major will bring blooming azaleas into our living rooms.

As for the play on the course, what will be the major storylines heading into Augusta National? And could a first-time Masters invitee actually slip his arms into the green jacket come Sunday night?

Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.

1. Which Masters rookie do you think has the best shot to win and why?

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: I really like Harris English's game going into the Masters. His length compared to the other rookies should give him a slight advantage. But like all the rookies, the question is who can adjust to the moment the best. In that area, I'm a huge fan of Patrick Reed.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Patrick Reed, a former All American at Augusta State, has twice won on the PGA Tour in 2014. But Reed's got much more going for him than just the ability to win. His greatest asset, perhaps, is that he believes that he is one of the most elite and prepared players on tour. He will be hard to beat if he takes this self-confidence into Amen Corner on Sunday with a chance to win.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Victor Dubuisson. I don't particularly like the chances of any first-timer, given the overwhelming history, but if someone were to be immune to such pressure, the Frenchman seems to have the perfect demeanor. He might not realize the difficulty of the task.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: There are 23 rookies in the field of 96, which equals about 24 percent. That's a hefty allotment. That being said, watch out for a guy like Graham DeLaet. You have to think 2003 Masters champion -- and fellow Canadian -- Mike Weir will share a few insider tips. And DeLaet sits top 10 on the PGA Tour in driving distance and greens in regulation, a key statistic to playing well at Augusta National.

2. What's the biggest storyline heading into the Masters?

Collins: There are two. What will Augusta feel like with no Tiger? More importantly, will Mother Nature play nice? A horrific winter that took away an iconic tree and heavy rain forecast for early in the week makes me wonder what kind of course we're going to have for the weekend.

Evans: It's the absence of Tiger Woods. Which of the top players will step up to fill the void left by the 14-time major championship? This has been the year so far of new winners emerging to challenge the old guard. Can Phil Mickelson or Sergio Garcia or the reigning Masters champion, Adam Scott, show that the past several months were just the side show to the real action in the major championships?

Harig: With Tiger Woods out and Phil Mickelson coming off an injury, there is no clear favorite. Nobody in the top five in the world this year has a victory, and the biggest winners ( Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed) have never played in the Masters. There is a lot of uncertainty heading into the year's first major.

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