Punch Shot: Who wins, who disappoints and what's the winning score at 85th Masters

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The 85th Masters Tournament begins Thursday at Augusta National. The GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with their predictions.

Pick to win this week:

Rex Hoggard: Patrick Reed. Although Reed hasn’t been lighting up events since his victory earlier this year at Torrey Pines, his form is similar to where he was before the 2018 Masters, which he won. He’s also leading the PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting which at Augusta National is like having a “get out of jail free” card.

Ryan Lavner: Dustin Johnson. After a few scrappy starts, the defending champion and world No. 1 looks locked in again, especially off the tee. The only question is whether he can hold it together on the greens, and the guess here is he will.

Brentley Romine: Justin Thomas. His victory at TPC Sawgrass showed that he’s back in great form, and he’s gotten better every year at Augusta National – T-39, T-22, T-17, T-12 and fourth last year. I’m betting that trend continues.


85th Masters Tournament: Full-field tee times | Full coverage


Pick to contend (but no jacket):

Hoggard: Justin Thomas. It’s been a steady march at Augusta National for JT, from T-39 in 2016 to fourth last fall. He’s also fresh off his victory last month at The Players. It might not be his year at Augusta National, but anything outside the top 10 would be a genuine surprise.

Lavner: Jordan Spieth. He’s back. Assuming he’s not too exhausted from his cathartic victory in San Antonio, Spieth will make another run, like he seemingly always does at Augusta.

Romine: Patrick Cantlay. Throw out a missed cut at The Players and Cantlay has been very good this year. He was T-9 the last time the Masters was played in April, and with the course playing firm and fast, I like Cantlay’s ability to make birdies but also miss in the right spots and get up and down. He’s one of the best on Tour around the greens.


Pick to disappoint:

Hoggard: Bryson DeChambeau. He’s entertaining and, without Tiger Woods in the field, he’s arguably the week’s biggest draw but it seems he continues to be fixated on distance and not the things (short game, putting, iron play) that really matter at Augusta National.

Lavner: Bryson DeChambeau. His best finish here remains a tie for 21st, when he was an amateur. He can bomb it as far as he wants, but precise short-iron play and scrambling have never been his strength. Those two areas are of paramount importance this week.

Romine: Brooks Koepka. He says he can win. Our eyes say otherwise. Koepka has appeared to be in some discomfort as he’s navigated Augusta National early this week, and just weeks removed from knee surgery, it would be unwise to expect much out of the four-time major champion. Of course, if anyone can tough it out and play well, it’s Koepka.


Pick: O/U, 12.5 under winning score:

Hoggard: Under. Friday’s forecast (70% chance of rain) could change things but the course was already at tournament speed for the practice rounds. This isn’t the November Masters, where the course was soft and players could be aggressive, and the scores will reflect that with 10 or 11 under par a solid early target.

Lavner: Over. If only slightly. Conditions are as firm as players can remember, but there’s a chance of rain each of the next three days – that’ll take some of the fire out of the greens. Give me 13 under.

Romine: Over. Don’t pay any attention to last year’s 20-under winning score. The course was playing soft. With more fiery conditions, I expect some bigger numbers, but not too many more. These guys are good and someone is going to shoot 273, which is 15 under.