Masters chances: Will Phil Mickelson defend his title?

Shane Bacon

This week before the Masters tees off, we'll be sizing up the green-jacket chances of many of golf's top players. We continue with the defending champion and three-time winner of this event.

Phil Mickelson

Current world ranking: 3

So far this year: As always, it has been a roller coaster of a year for Mr. Roller Coaster himself, with a second-place finish to open his season at Torrey Pines, and then a bunch of sub-par performances before last week, when he won the Shell Houston Open with weekend rounds of 63-65. Currently, Mickelson sits at second on the FedEx Cup points list.

Record at Augusta: If not for Mr. Woods in the field, Mickelson would have the most polished resume at Augusta of all the contenders. He has won the Masters three times, all in the last seven years, including 2010. Since 1999, he has finished out of the top 10 only once at Augusta National, and seems to really love the golf course and tends to play his best here.

Why he could win: Well, where do you start? Phil seems to peaking at the perfect time for the Masters after a weekend at Houston that was nearly historic, and is heading into this event with the utmost confidence. He seems to be hitting the ball well, making the putts he needs to make, and has to be the favorite by everyone's standards when the balls fly in the air on Thursday.

Why he could fall short: Because he's Phil Mickelson, and you never know what you're going to get from this man. Already this week he has said he's going to play with two drivers, a strategy that worked in 2006, but it is a change from the previous week. Also, there have only been two people in the history of the Masters that were able to claim a green jacket after winning the week before, and although Phil is one of those guys, history isn't exactly on his side.

Our take: He's obviously the favorite, and there is no reason for him not to continue his success at Augusta National. Will he win? Obviously that's hard to say, but he sure is a smart pick right now. My thought is Phil will be in one of the last two groups on Sunday, and it'll just come down to the final nine holes to see if he can do it again. As we know with Augusta, at that point, anything can happen.

Your turn, friends. Your take on Mickelson's chances at Augusta this year?

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