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Ranking Masters field, top to bottom

4/8/2009 - Golf

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Consider what you're about to read a classic "damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don't" proposition.

You see, I'm about to release my annual ranking of the Masters field, from No. 1 through 96, in order based not on world ranking points or the current money list, but how I, personally, predict each player will fare this week at Augusta National Golf Club.

As someone who covers the game for a living, attending tournaments, speaking with players and keeping a keen eye on trends and other developments, I've used my sense of perception to cultivate the order of this list based on a plethora of different factors.

And therein lies the problem.

After all, any casual fan who can name two modern-day, world-class golfers will proffer the following response when asked to create the beginnings of his own list: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

I, on the other hand, should have a little more inside knowledge; I should be able to confidently name the next Trevor Immelman or Zach Johnson who will shoulder the green jacket come Sunday evening in Butler Cabin.

Not so much.

Based on everything I have witnessed, the statistics I've researched, the interviews I've conducted and the results I've analyzed, I have produced the exact same start to my Masters ranking as so many others.

Tiger and Phil.

That doesn't mean it's going to happen -- hell, it probably ensures it won't -- but using gut feelings, a few hunches and a handful of educated guesses, this ranking starts in a very similar manner to that of anyone else procuring such an undertaking.

So you see my conundrum: Either choose the exact same players to top my list as so many others or go out on a limb with different players whom I really don't believe will finish atop the leaderboard.

Damned if I do. Damned if I don't.

Wins -- 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005

The truth is, unless TW royally bombed at Bay Hill, he was going to top this list. Winning that tournament, however, propelled him to, once again, prohibitive favorite status.

A check of his first three starts this season shows that he's done everything well at some point; he drove the ball great in Tucson, hit his irons great at Doral and displayed a great short game at Bay Hill. If he puts it all together at Augusta, he'll win by 10.

Easier said than done, of course. And remember: Though Woods owns four career green jackets, he's won only one in his last six attempts. Moral of the story? Yes, he's the pick to win, but no, he's hardly a lock.

2. Phil Mickelson

Wins -- 2004, 2006

He's one of only two players to own multiple PGA Tour victories so far this season (along with Geoff Ogilvy), but Mickelson didn't exactly have his A-game during final-round conquests at Riviera and Doral. That shouldn't be viewed as a negative, though -- nor should his soaring scores in Houston, where he was on the wrong side of the draw -- since elite players often judge themselves by results when they're not at the top of their games.

If he gets it going this week, Phil will be tough to beat. Remember: He owns two Masters titles in the past five years; no one else -- not even Tiger -- can make such a claim.

3. Paul Casey

T-6, 2004

I pinkie-swear this is the truth: Even before Casey earned his first victory on U.S. soil at the Shell Houston Open last week, he was going to be the No. 3 man on this list. With three finishes of 11th or better in four career Masters starts, he knows this is a tournament he can win -- and soon.

"I love the Masters," Casey said. "I feel it's my best opportunity at a major. The golf course sets up very well for me."

With a win in Abu Dhabi and runner-up at the WGC-Match Play, he's obviously playing some very solid golf right now. It was more than a little interesting that within minutes of clinching the win in Houston, Casey noted that Phil Mickelson and Sandy Lyle are among those to triumph in the week before Augusta and then prevail there, too.

He might just add his own name to that list.

4. Luke Donald

T-3, 2005

Having attended school at Northwestern, it's likely Donald is familiar with the phrase, "It's gonna happen!" in reference to the much-beleaguered Chicago Cubs. The same rallying cry can be used when speaking of the understated Brit, who owns one of the sweetest swings in the world.

Long considered one of the game's "young guns," at 31 he no longer qualifies for such status. Donald might just now be entering his peak years as a player. After missing the second half of last season with a wrist injury, he suffered a flare-up at the Match Play in February, but maintains he's good to go now. Don't be surprised to see him finally swipe a major in the next year or two. It's gonna happen.

5. Steve Stricker

T-10, 2001

He's been in contention on three separate occasions in the final round this season ... and come up with a second, third and fourth place for his troubles. OK, so Stricker might not be a closer, but that doesn't mean he can't contend this week, too.

The Wisconsin native is known as a strong putter, but it's another component of his game that makes him such a heady selection. Stricker ranks second on the PGA Tour in scrambling -- a byproduct of solid putting, of course -- which is always important on this course.

6. Padraig Harrington

T-5, 2002, 2008

While a large portion of the golf fandom was lulled into a non-Tiger-induced coma for the second half of last season, Harrington was simply busy winning the final two major championships of the year. He's now looking for three in a row -- and it might be the quietest quest in major history.

"Yes, it would be a nice bonus to win three majors in a row," he says, "but does it make much difference whether I win this one or one win in a year's time or two years' time? No, I'm quite patient."

Paddy hasn't enjoyed a particularly successful season so far, but that means nothing in his case; he had a wrist injury prior to winning the British Open and spoke of exhaustion before taking the PGA Championship.

7. Retief Goosen

2nd, 2002; T-2, 2007

Whether he's playing well in advance or just starting to maneuver his game into a position where he can contend, it seems that Goosen is always in his best form when heading to Augusta.

In 2002, he won the BellSouth Classic in the preceding week, then finished solo second, 3 shots behind Woods. In 2005, he posted a pair of top-5s in the month leading up to a T-3 result.

The next year, he was second at the Players Championship and T-4 at the BellSouth before again taking a share of third at the Masters. One year later, he was still riding high off a victory at the Qatar Masters when he finished in a tie for second. And last year, he parlayed a T-2 at Doral, in his final start before the year's first major, into a T-17 at the tournament.

This time around? Goosen just recently won the Transitions Championship, meaning another strong finish here is a strong possibility.

8. Zach Johnson

Win -- 2007

Laying up on all four par-5 holes at Augusta National? From here on in, such strategy should be called the Zach Attack. Traditionalists balk at players plotting -- and plodding -- their way around this course without going for any of these four holes in 2, but really it speaks more to the setup than the competitors themselves.

If a guy can play these holes in a combined 11-under-par by hitting a third-shot wedge into each one -- as Johnson did during his victory two years ago -- it's tough to blame 'em. As for the 2007 champ maneuvering away from the Zach Attack, don't count on it. He'll likely stick with the proven strategy.

9. Andres Romero

T-8, 2008

Anyone who can finish T-8 in his debut turn around Augusta National -- as Romero did a year ago -- has plenty of game. Last season's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has only one finish of better than 32nd in 2009 (a T-3 at Riviera), but tends to play his best golf in big events, as evidenced by four career top-10s in only eight major starts.

The Argentine tends to make lots of birdies and lots of "others," making him one of the most exciting players to keep an eye on.

10. Geoff Ogilvy

T-16, 2006

For those who haven't paid much attention to the first three-plus months of the golf season, welcome. So far you've missed Tiger's return, a few wins by Phil and, oh by the way, Ogilvy is now the No. 4-ranked player in the world, thanks to victories at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Long thought to be a fluky champion at Winged Foot when Mickelson sliced his final drive off a corporate tent while Monty, Furyk and Harrington all faltered, the Aussie has proven to be more than capable of winning all on his own. And that might include here at Augusta, where he's made the cut in all three previous appearances.

11. Stewart Cink

T-3, 2008

He's not just a world-class golfer; Cink is now offering some of the best golf content on the Internet, thanks to his personal Twitter account.

In the past week alone, the five-time PGA Tour champ has issued posts about course conditions ("In my opinion, the course is so wet right now that it will be a miracle for it to be playing fast by Thursday"), course changes ("When the club rebuilds greens, they generally soften the slopes, due to ever-increasing green speeds. This year [is] no different") and even the clubhouse fare ("They also have a MEAN chopped ribeye steak in the grill!!!").

Cink could become the first Masters champ to Tweet about his victory before ever making it to Butler Cabin.

12. Ian Poulter

T-13, 2007

Yes, he's a fashion plate, but don't think for a second that Poulter's personal brand of colorful, stylish garb detracts from his on-course performance in any way.

"When you step up to the plate at the British Open last year and you go play as well as you played at the Ryder Cup, I guess that kind of answers that question," he says. "I know I can perform on the golf course; I wouldn't be in the top 50 in the world if I couldn't. It's a hard place to maintain your status and I've been in there for a few years, so I can mix it with the best of players."

As for last year's comments that he would be right there at the top with Woods, Poulter maintains, "When you step up and show that you're not, as one paper said, 'all mouth and trousers,' if you step up and deliver, then all of that kind of goes away."

Don't be surprised if he makes another delivery this week.

13. Jim Furyk

4th, 1998 and 2003

Mr. Consistency has had some 'splaining to do, caused by a recent bout of soaring scores. Three weeks ago, after claiming sole possession of the opening-round lead at the Transitions Championship, Furyk ballooned to a 78 the next day, making the cut on the number. It was his first total that high since a 79 at the 2007 Wachovia Championship -- a span of 156 rounds.

It only took three rounds for him to reach such heights again, though, as he followed with another 78 in the opening round at Bay Hill. He's still a solid candidate to contend for the green jacket, but those scores are certainly worrisome.

14. Henrik Stenson

T-17, 2007 and 2008

We don't have to take our clothes off to have a good time ... oh, no!

Hmmm, just wondering how good ol' Two-Tone would be received by the fellas in green jackets who run this tournament if he stripped down to his skivvies -- as was the case at Doral last month -- to whack a ball out of Rae's Creek. Let's hope we don't find out.

Stenson has the game to contend and would certainly liven up things in the champions locker room. Here's guessing a big victory celebration would follow his initial major title.

We could dance and party all night ...

15. Rory McIlroy

1st appearance

Still one month shy of his 20th birthday, the kid from Holywood -- Northern Ireland, that is; and yes, just one "l" -- owns a poised, powerful swing that has already helped him rise to No. 17 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

What is he most looking forward to in his debut trip to the Masters?

"Loads of things," he said. "The drive up Magnolia Lane, walking out of the back of the clubhouse and seeing the 18th green, ninth green, first tee box ... obviously Amen Corner. Yeah, everything. It's going to be great."

Now would be a good time to mention that it's been 30 years since an Augusta rookie (Fuzzy Zoeller) took the title. Boy Wonder has his heart set on snapping that drought.

16. Pat Perez

T-45, 2003

It's usually an all-or-nothing proposition for PP. He could shoot either 65 or 85 -- and maybe both.

17. Sean O'Hair

T-14, 2008

The final-round loss at the hands of TW might sting for awhile, but with a solo second and three other top-10s this year, he's still playing some quality golf.

18. Graeme McDowell

MC

Among those on the scene as early as last week getting in some precious practice time was McDowell, who is no stranger to first- and second-round leaderboards at majors.

19. Mike Weir

Win -- 2003

Since winning here in 2003, the little lefty from Canada has finished 20th or better on four of five occasions.

20. Nick Watney

T-11, 2008

For a guy who didn't make much noise in his first four full seasons on the PGA Tour -- save for a victory at the 2007 Zurich Classic -- Watney has turned himself into the most consistent player so far this season.

21. Jeev Milkha Singh

T-25, 2008

If this was a sweetest-swing contest, poor Jeev Milkha would be languishing somewhere between Jim Furyk and Charles Barkley on this list. Instead, his unorthodox move finds him hitting more fairways and greens than most of his peers.

22. Ernie Els

2nd, 2000 and 2004

Fifteen years ago, when the Big Easy won his first career major championship title at the age of 24, you could have earned a nice chunk of change betting against him to claim a green jacket by the time he reached 40.

Well, this marks his final chance and while Els has shown flashes of returning to his erstwhile elite level, it's tough to imagine this will be the week he reverts to form. The sweet swing is still there, sure, but he's missed too many short putts in big situations the past few years to believe anything different will take place this time around.

23. Justin Leonard

T-7, 1997

You know what you're getting from Leonard, who has finished between seventh and 39th in 11 of his 13 Masters starts, missing the cut only twice.

24. Hunter Mahan

T-28, 2003

Nice bounce-back for Mahan in Houston, where he finished T-6 thanks to a final-round-best 4-under 68 one week after dropping off the leaderboard due to a 5-putt at Bay Hill.

25. Robert Karlsson

T-8, 2008

Don't sleep on The Scientist. Last year's Euro Tour Order of Merit winner was buoyed by top-20 results in all four majors in 2008.

26. Stuart Appleby

T-7, 2007

Though he's finished 22nd or better in four of his past five starts here, there's been more heartache than success -- never more so than in 2007, when he parlayed the 54-hole lead into a final-round 75 and a share of seventh place.

27. Fred Couples

Win -- 1992

Last year marked the end of an era. After making the cut in each of his first 23 starts at Augusta -- which included a victory in 1992, runner-up in '98, T-3 in '06 and seven other top-10s -- Couples failed to reach the weekend by a single stroke.

At three years older than Jack Nicklaus was in 1986, Boom Boom might not be considered a legit contender anymore, but he's still got some game, as evidenced by a T-3 in Houston last week. On a course where experience trumps other skills, Freddie can never be counted out.

28. Camilo Villegas

MC

It's been all or nothing for Spiderman this season. In six starts prior to the Shell Houston Open (where he placed T-42), he had four finishes of 12th or better and two MCs.

29. Robert Allenby

T-22, 2006

Tied with Woods for the most consecutive number of cuts made on the PGA Tour (32), the Aussie actually is just 5-for-9 at the Masters, with a best result of T-22 three years ago.

30. Kenny Perry

T-12, 1995

Perry might have enjoyed the greatest season of any player -- ever -- who competed in a grand total of one major championship round in 2008. Bank on this: He will quadruple that number this week.

Despite not qualifying for the Masters, not attempting to qualify for the U.S. Open, qualifying but choosing not to play the British Open and withdrawing due to an eye injury after one round of the PGA Championship last year, the 48-year-old Kentucky native is still among the world's best, with four wins in his past 20 starts.

Augusta sets up for players who use a right-to-left ball flight and Perry just happens to own one of the sweetest draws in golf.

31. D.J. Trahan

MC

No stranger to red numbers, Trahan is currently tied for the PGA Tour lead in total birdies (146) and eighth in birdie average.

32. Danny Lee -- amateur

1st appearance

No matter what, this will be the final event of his unbelievably successful amateur career. The reigning U.S. Amateur champ has already won on the European Tour this season, becoming the youngest champion in that tour's history, and will attempt to earn his PGA Tour card through using the maximum sponsors' exemptions, beginning with the Zurich Classic in two weeks.

At just 18, the precocious wunderkind was recently asked to name his long-term goals. "The next Tiger Woods maybe," he said with a laugh, before seriously stating, "I'll try to break his record on the PGA Tour."

33. Justin Rose

T-5, 2007

Two years ago, he raced to a share of the opening-round lead with a 3-under 69, but finished 75-75-73 for a share of fifth place. He's never missed the cut in four career Masters starts.

34. Trevor Immelman

Win, 2008

In the 12 months since claiming the green jacket, Immelman's results have been wildly inconsistent, ranging from the very good (he reached a playoff before losing in Memphis last year) to the very bad (he hasn't finished better than T-19 in six starts this season).

There have been very few -- if any, really -- fluky champs in Masters history and Immelman shouldn't be considered in that vein.

35. Mathew Goggin

1st appearance

He's establishing himself as one of the better ball-strikers on the PGA Tour, but Goggin's bugaboo has been putting -- and it won't get any easier this week.

36. Ross Fisher

1st appearance

Expect this Brit -- who finished fourth at the Match Play this year -- to be among the top debut performers.

37. Anthony Kim

1st appearance

Will the real AK please stand up? Just six months ago, Kim was the Next Big Thing after a season in which he won two events and was one of many Ryder Cup heroes for the U.S. team.

After beginning this season with a T-2 at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, though, it's been a struggle for Kim, who has suffered both injury and illness while competing in more global events.

"I feel like I'm doing a good job of hanging in there, because it has been frustrating," he said earlier this week. "I think I'm just starting to find my golf swing and my golf game. I'm just trying to stay as patient as possible, even though it's very tough."

38. Lee Westwood

T-6, 1999

Enjoyed a fine tuneup in Houston, leading for parts of the tournament before winding up in a share of 11th place.

39. Adam Scott

T-9, 2002

Like Tom Petty sings ... the waiting is the hardest part. Well, we've been waiting for Scott to develop into a major champion -- or a contender, at the very least -- for years. But he's only seemed to regress.

In 31 career major starts, he owns only four top-10 results. And in seven previous Masters appearances, he's MC'd only once. But since finishing T-9 in his debut performance in 2002, the Aussie hasn't fared better than T-23. The 28-year-old has one of the game's sweetest swings, but the results -- especially in big events -- have been unendingly disappointing.

40. K.J. Choi

3rd, 2004

That solo third-place finish in 2004 seems like a long time ago; he hasn't finished better than T-27 since.

41. Ryuji Imada

1st appearance

If it's all about attitude, then this Masters first-timer is already leading the pack.

"I think I'm going to enjoy the whole week," he said, "whether I play good or bad."

42. Sergio Garcia

T-4, 2004

I've been saying for years now that Sergio will win a major before he turns 30. Well, he's got four more chances at it. Actually, make that three, because it ain't happening this week.

Coming off four days in Houston in which he finished DFL of the players who made the cut thanks to a final-round 81, Garcia isn't exactly firing on all cylinders. And this isn't a tourney in which he's played well lately, either, finishing MC-MC-46-MC since 2005.

"Unfortunately," he said, "I haven't done great there in the past probably four years."

That will change someday, but not this week.

43. Stephen Ames

T-11, 2006

Though he's better known for losing 9-and-8 to Woods at the 2005 Match Play than winning the next year's Players Championship, Ames is a solid ball-striker who has never missed a cut at this event.

44. Bernhard Langer

Wins -- 1985, 1993

Two-time champ might be the best of the bunch from the 50-and-over set; don't be surprised if he makes the cut for the first time since 2005.

45. Greg Norman

2nd, 1996; T-2 in 1986 and 1987

This week's ideal story line would have the Great White Shark battling for a Masters title on Sunday, just as he did at Royal Birkdale last year before finishing T-3.

This guy has more demons than Augusta National has azaleas, from losing to Mize in 1987 to faltering in the final round in '96. With son Gregory on the bag, expect the big story to come on Friday, not Sunday, as Norman attempts to make the cut in his first appearance since 2002.

Will it happen? The top 44 (and ties) reach the weekend and, well, you see that number before Norman's name. I say he misses by a single stroke.

46. Chad Campbell

T-3, 2006

Six years after his peers voted him the likeliest to be the next first-time major champion, this "Hoganesque" ball-striker might not rank in the top 20 of such a category.

47. Ken Duke

1st appearance

So excited to make his Masters debut at age 40, Duke said, "I'll probably take a picture of myself, just to make sure that I'm really there."

Let's hope he took care of that during the practice rounds. Like those behind the gallery ropes, players also aren't allowed to have phones, PDAs or -- you reading, Ken? -- cameras on the course once play has begun.

48. Oliver Wilson

1st appearance

No Charles Howell III, no Vaughn Taylor, no problem. Local residents can still hang their hats on one player, as Wilson played his college golf at Augusta State.

49. Boo Weekley

T-20, 2008

You know you want to see it. Boo Weekley, golf's ultimate country bumpkin, wearing a green jacket and turning this place upside-down. The victory speech would be amazing and next year's Champions Dinner would be frightful. (He would hunt for the dinner, no doubt.)

Prior to his Masters debut last year, Weekley claimed, "It's all about the history, and I'm not a history guy." Reciting history? Not his thing. Making history? Maybe.

After all, this is a guy who showed nerves of steel at the Ryder Cup. And besides, I'm pretty sure no past champ has ever done the bull dance up the 18th fairway before. Feel the flow.

50. John Merrick

1st appearance

He's a first-timer in the field, but Merrick knows what to expect this week.

"It's like a course you already think you've played," he said, "because you've seen it on TV for so many years."

Among the PGA Tour leaders in approach shots from 75 to 100 yards, expect him to get up and down for a handful of birdies on the par-5 holes.

51. Tim Clark

2nd, 2006

In your best Seinfeld voice, read the following line aloud: What's the deal with Tim Clark?

Back in 2006, when the course was playing into the hands of longer hitters, the pea-shooting South African finished solo second behind Mickelson. The past two years, Augusta National has been more tailored to those who place a premium on accuracy. Right up Timmy's alley, right?

Well, yes ... and yet he hasn't been able to contend on the weekend, finishing T-13 (after holding a share of the 36-hole lead) and MC in those tourneys.

52. Soren Kjeldsen

1st appearance

He's coming off a 2-stroke victory at the Andalucian Open two weeks ago.

53. Aaron Baddeley

T-52, 2007

Recently reunited with longtime junior golf instructor Dale Lynch, the erstwhile stack-and-tilter needs all the help he can get, with no finishes of better than 10th in the past 51 weeks.

54. Brandt Snedeker

T-3, 2008

Paired with eventual champ Immelman in the final group for both weekend rounds last year, Snedeker was overcome with emotion following a T-3 result. This year, he might be crying for different reasons.

Prior to a T-17 finish at Bay Hill, the 2007 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year had made the cut in only two of seven starts this season, with a best result of T-42. He's too talented to continue producing such poor results, but a quick turnaround and a repeat performance is difficult to foresee.

55. Steve Flesch

T-5, 2008

Lefty enjoyed a wild ride up the leaderboard last year, finishing in a career-best share of fifth place.

56. Dustin Johnson

1st appearance

Gotta wonder whether his strong season will be derailed after a recent DUI arrest in South Carolina.

57. Martin Kaymer

MC

Just 24, the Germany native has established himself as one of the top up-and-comers in the world.

58. Alvaro Quiros

1st appearance

Move over, Bubba. The longest hitter in the field is this two-time reigning Euro Tour driving distance leader, but he's coming off a week in which he bombed -- and bombed out -- in Houston.

59. Vijay Singh

Win -- 2000

Blame Tiger, but when Vijay underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on Jan. 14, it was only the second most talked about knee reparation in golf over the past year. He returned just three weeks later, but his game has been slow to heal.

In six events since the surgery, Singh lost in the second round of the Match Play, finished T-53 at Doral and T-59 at Bay Hill, and missed the cut three times. It's tough to imagine a scenario in which he breaks out of the slump and seriously contends for the title this week.

60. Louis Oosthuizen

1st appearance

Non-PGA Tour member stayed in the U.S. to play Bay Hill in hopes of reaching the Masters and the gamble paid off, as he barely snuck into the top 50 on the OWGR.

61. Carl Pettersson

T-27, 2006

They call him the "Swedish Redneck," but really Pettersson more closely resembles Uter from "The Simpsons."

62. Angel Cabrera

T-8, 2006

This 6-foot, 210-pounder (suuure) from Argentina claims he'd be a professional soccer player if he wasn't a golfer. On several occasions, he's gone into the weekend at Augusta alive and kicking, only to have a career-best finish of eighth, with three other turns in the top 15.

63. Rory Sabbatini

T-2, 2007

Sabo was bitten by The Curse last year. No, not the one which states you don't talk smack to Tiger Woods; he won the Par-3 Contest, which has never seen its champion also claim the green jacket.

64. Bubba Watson

T-20, 2008

Sure, Augusta National officials can Tiger-proof the course, but can they Bubba-proof it? Watson is leading the PGA Tour in driving distance ... again.

65. Soren Hansen

MC

He'll battle Kjeldsen for low-Soren honors, but has already clinched low-Hansen/Hanson, with Anders and Peter not in the field.

66. Briny Baird

MC

One of three players in the field based solely on his inclusion in last year's Tour Championship, he'll have some company in the wide-brimmed straw hat department in the form of Norman and Quiros.

67. Miguel Angel Jimenez

T-8, 2008

Masters fact: No champion has ever had a ponytail. If the Mechanic wins, victory cigars for everybody!

68. Rocco Mediate

T-15, 2001

For those crossing fingers for the 2008 U.S Open revisited, there's hope.

Three years ago, Rocco got himself into contention at Augusta National entering the final round. He was cruising along until the 12th hole, when his back seized up and he knocked three into Rae's Creek en route to shooting 80 and finishing in a share of 36th place.

That result and his momentous run at Torrey Pines in June 2008 combine to prove the only thing we know about Mediate is that anything can happen on any given week.

69. Richard Sterne

T-25, 2008

The diminutive South African has already enjoyed a solid season, winning in back-to-back European Tour starts.

70. Ben Curtis

T-39, 2006

In four of five Masters starts that he received for winning the 2004 British Open, Curtis failed to make the cut. But as one of the game's more underrated players, never count him out of consideration.

71. Kevin Sutherland

T-33, 2003

Excellent ball-striker is returning for the first time since a T-33 in 2003.

72. Y.E. Yang

T-30, 2007

Along with Perez, one of only two winners this season who wasn't already exempt into the Masters.

73. Dudley Hart

T-28, 2000

Last season's PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year is coming back to Augusta for the first time since 2001.

74. Prayad Marksaeng

WD

Got into the field at the 11th hour, thanks to a final-round rally for a runner-up result at another Masters ... the Black Mountain Masters in his native Thailand.

75. Billy Mayfair

T-12, 1991

Since 1998, has gone two years in, two years out at the Masters, but breaks that string this week after missing just last year's edition.

76. Tom Watson

Wins -- 1977, 1981

Padraig Harrington recently stated that he never watches another player hit shots on the range, but was so in awe of how Watson cut balls through the wind during last year's British Open that he stepped back and observed for a minute. Now that, my friends, is a compliment.

77. Ryo Ishikawa

1st appearance

It speaks to both the global vision and a nod toward the forethought of tournament organizers that the lone player to receive a special invitation doesn't just hail from Japan; he's also 17 years old.

78. Shingo Katayama

T-27, 2006

Played with Jack Nicklaus in the six-time champ's first two rounds of his final Masters. Will likely have fewer eyeballs watching his every move this time around.

79. Todd Hamilton

T-36 in 2008

Playing in the final year of his five-year exemption for winning the British Open.

80. Jose Maria Olazabal

Wins -- 1994, 1999

Has it really been 10 years since Ollie held off Norman to win his second green jacket? Hard to believe. There's still some game left here, but injuries have held him back.

Still, JMO has made a goal of reaching the European Ryder Cup team next year after getting beaten out by Colin Montgomerie to captain the squad. A strong effort here would be a good start.

81. Lin Wen-Tang

1st appearance

A regular on the Asian Tour, he won earlier this season by defeating Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari in a playoff with a birdie on the first extra hole.

82. Reinier Saxton -- amateur

1st appearance

The British Amateur champ lost in a 36-hole, head-to-head match against Danny Lee at the recent Georgia Cup, but at least got a chance to plot his way around Augusta.

83. Chez Reavie

MC

The best French restaurant in Augusta? Nice try. Chez Reavie is actually a guy in the field, based on his Canadian Open win last summer.

84. Larry Mize

Win, 1987

Just wondering: Do you think Greg Norman wakes up in a cold sweat at 3 a.m. every night mumbling the words, "Larry Mize ... Larry Mize ... Larry Mize ... " over and over to himself?

85. Mark O'Meara

Win, 1998

"There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to go there and have a good tournament," says the past champion, who now competes primarily on the senior circuit. "I know I'm a little bit older and the course is a different golf course than when I played in '98, but the golf ball really doesn't know how old you are."

Maybe not, but in three dozen career Champions Tour appearances, he's still searching for that elusive first victory, though he has pulled six runner-up finishes.

86. Drew Kittleson -- amateur

1st appearance

After losing in the finals of last year's U.S. Amateur to Danny Lee, the champ raved about his opponent's overall game.

87. Michael Campbell

MC

Nearly nine months after injuring his shoulder in an airport baggage carousel incident (lift with your legs, kids), the 2005 U.S. Open champ is still battling back. He says he finally feels healthy, but his swing remains bedridden.

88. Jack Newman -- amateur

1st appearance

All together now ... NEWMAN! Good run for Michigan State. First the NCAA hoops title game; now Sparty gets to root on current student Newman, who's the reigning U.S. PubLinks champ. Always nice to have a "Jack N." playing in the Masters.

89. Steve Wilson -- amateur

1st appearance

In his first nine practice rounds at Augusta National, the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion never broke 75. Of course, that was before the greens firmed up.

For a guy who admittedly struggles with his short game, he could have a rough go of things this week. Then again, for a gas station owner from Mississippi, he's still living the dream.

90. Craig Stadler

Win -- 1982

Tough to imagine that this spot in the field could have been annually reserved for Dan Pohl had he not missed a 6-foot par putt in a 1982 playoff after a furious back-nine rally to catch the Walrus.

91. Ben Crenshaw

Wins -- 1984, 1995

Does a promised weekend stint as guest Golf Channel analyst reek of pessimism? Perhaps, but here's guessing he'd give up the gig in a hurry if he was playing 36 more holes.

92. Raymond Floyd

Win -- 1976

Last seen speeding through side streets in TV advertisements with Annika, Chi Chi and Chucky Threesticks, Floyd will need to put the pedal to the metal in order to avoid languishing near the bottom of the leaderboard.

93. Fuzzy Zoeller

Win -- 1979

Thirty years after winning a green jacket in his initial attempt here at Augusta, Fuzzy will hang up the spikes following this week's tourney, spurred on by this question from Arnold Palmer a year ago: "What are you doing here?"

94. Sandy Lyle

Win, 1988

Walked off the course at Royal Birkdale during last year's British Open; that won't happen here at Augusta.

95. Ian Woosnam

Win -- 1991

"Woosie" best describes (a) Woosnam's nickname; (b) How the Welshman will feel after 36 holes at Augusta; or (c) all of the above? I'll pick (c).

96. Gary Player

Wins -- 1961, 1974, 1978

"I'm hitting the ball so short now, I can hear it land."

That's been Player's go-to comedy line as of late, but the three-time Masters champ hasn't been laughing about his game. Last year he shot 83-78 to finish last out of those who completed two rounds.

So on Monday, he announced his decision to call this week's Masters -- the 52nd of his career -- his last.

"The golf course is so long," he explained. "I mean, I'm hitting a wood to almost every single hole."

That doesn't mean this will be the last we'll see of the Black Knight at Augusta. He intimated that if asked to join Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter, he would accept the position.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com