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Masters Chances: Why Luke Donald could win at Augusta this week

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Luke Donald enjoys himself at the 2011 Masters. (Getty Images)

Leading up to The Masters, we'll offer up our thoughts on some of the game's best players and their chances to win at Augusta. First up: the World No. 1.

Luke Donald

His 2012 so far: Four events on the PGA Tour, with a win at the Transitions and a T6 at the WGC-Cadillac. The Transitions victory helped him retake the world No. 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy.

His Masters record: Seven Masters played, three top 10s, including a T4 last year. He's missed the cut at Augusta twice, most recently in 2010.

Why he could win: Donald is hands-down one of the smoothest golfers on Tour, both in his play and his mindset. He's had opportunities to take and retake the top spot in the world, and unlike Phil Mickelson, he's capitalized on both. His off-the-green short game will come in handy at Augusta, and his ability to remain calm under pressure, the above photo notwithstanding, will serve him well as the energy ratchets up day after day at Augusta.

Why he could lose: Sometimes Donald gets a bit too casual out on the course, and Augusta eats those kinds of players alive. You can't let the course come to you, you can't wait for the rest of the field to make mistakes at Augusta. If you're going to win, you have to do it on your own terms. Donald can do that; will he?

Our take: Yes, he will. This is the year. The focus all tournament long will be on Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, but in the end this is the year Donald ascends the mountaintop, validates his top ranking, and firmly establishes himself among the best golfers of the 2010s.

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