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Golf rankings, player capsules

The SportsXchange

The Sports Xchange's 2013 PGA Tour rankings, selected by TSX Golf Staff, based on 2012-2013 performance.

1. Tiger Woods, United States -- Woods is right back where he's always wanted to be, at No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings and the favorite going into the Masters this week. That's what three victories in four stroke-play events on the PGA Tour this season, and six in his last 20 outings on the circuit will do. He's always wanted those expectations and in the past has thrived on them. The next step is to win his 15th major title, but first since the 2008 U.S. Open, and continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18. ... Tiger has claimed the Green Jacket four times, but not since 2005, even though he finished in the top 10 for six consecutive years until he tied for 40th last year. That was his worst finish since his first two appearances at Augusta, a tie for 41st in 1995 and a missed cut in 1996. He won the first of his Masters titles the following year by 12 strokes over Tom Kite. ... This will be the fourth season in which Woods arrives at Augusta National with three titles already in his pocket, but in 2000 he finished fifth, in 2003 he tied for 15th and in 2008 he finished second behind Trevor Immelman. On the other hand, he has won the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in his last two outings, and the last time Woods came into the Masters off two consecutive victories, in 2001, he was wearing the Green Jacket on Sunday night. That completed what became known as the "Tiger Slam," after he equaled Ben Hogan's 1953 feat of winning three professional majors in a season by taking the last three in 2000.

2. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Even though McIlroy couldn't pull out a victory in the Valero Texas Open, it was a wise decision to add it to his schedule on the advice of caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. He shot 4-under-par 66 in the final round and finished second only because Martin Laird closed with a brilliant 63 to win by two strokes. It was Rory's best result since he captured the DP Dubai World Championship last November and it had to give him a huge jolt of confidence headed to the Masters. ... As poorly as McIlroy has played for most of this season, it must be remembered that he captured the last major of 2012, the PGA Championship, by a runaway eight strokes at Kiawah Island after winning the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, also by eight shots. He is making his fifth appearance in the Masters and might have been wearing the Green Jacket in 2011, when he took a four-stroke lead into the final round after opening with 65-69-70. However, he skied to an 8-over-par 80 in the final round, carding a single birdie on the seventh hole and recording a triple-bogey 7 on No. 10 and a double-bogey 5 on No. 12 while sliding to a tie for 15th. Last year, he was one stroke off the lead after opening with 71-69, but played the weekend in 77-76 to finish in a tie for 40th. ... McIlroy found something in his game on the back nine of round two last week at TPC San Antonio, carding birdies on the last three holes to close out a 67. He admitted that he still made some "silly" mistakes, and would have won without them, but will forget all about that if he is claims the Green Jacket.

3. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- Had he not been sidelined for five weeks by a rib injury and missed the cut in his two outings since returning to the PGA Tour, Snedeker would be right behind Tiger Woods on the short list of favorites heading into the Masters. Hopefully, he can find that early-season magic after he makes the drive down Magnolia Lane. Brandt finished in the top three in four of his first five tournaments, including a victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, in addition to runner-up finishes in the Farmers Insurance Open and the Waste Management Phoenix Open, plus a third in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. ... Sneds is making his sixth appearance in the first major of the year, and had a chance to claim the Green Jacket in 2008. He was two strokes behind 54-hole leader and eventual winner Trevor Immelman of South Africa, and pulled even by holing a long eagle putt on the second hole. However, he fell back with a bogey on the next hole and eventually was left in tears after closing with a 5-under-par 77 that dropped him to a tie for third. Snedeker was on the fringe of contention in each of the last two years, tying for 15th in 2011 and tying for 19th last year. ... He equaled that tie for third, his best finish in the Grand Slam events, last year in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but has only two other top-10 finishes in the majors, a tie for ninth in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and a tie for eighth in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Snedeker isn't the longest hitter, but certainly has the short game to win a major.

4. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Lefty has had an up-an-down start this season, but shooting 67-68 on the weekend to climb into contention at the Shell Houston Open and tie for 16th had to give him some confidence going into the Masters. Of course, that doesn't really mean much when it comes to Phil the Thrill, who was coming off a string of mediocre finishes when he claimed the Green Jacket in 2010. Simply being on the grounds at Augusta National seems to bring out his best. ... Mickelson is playing in the Masters for the 21st time and has recorded 13 finishes in the top 10, including victories in 2004, 2006 and 2010. He was close again last year, winding up in a tie for third by bouncing back from a 2-over-par 74 in the first round with scores of 66-68-72 to finish two shots out of the playoff in which Bubba Watson defeated Louis Oosthuizen. ... Mickelson, whose other major title came in the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol, always is tinkering with his equipment and at Houston promised a special new club for the Masters, but wasn't saying what it is. He already unveiled this season a nuclear Callaway 3-wood that he can hit straighter than his sometimes wayward driver, and he hits it as long as many players can carry the big stick. It led to his dominating performance in a victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and could play a big role if he is going to take home a fourth Green Jacket. Mickelson gone with two drivers and no driver, so it's always interesting to see what he shows up with in the bag.

5. Dustin Johnson, United States -- Perhaps the most talented golfer without a major title, Johnson hopes to make up for his missed opportunities this week in the Masters. He seemed to get his game back on track in his last outing two weeks ago, the Shell Houston Open, shooting 7-under-par 65 in the final round to tie for fourth, following a prolonged slump after he captured the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. ... DJ is competing in the Masters for the fourth time, and although Augusta would seem to be perfectly suited for his power game, he has not had much success there. He tied for 38th in each of his last two appearances in the first major, in 2010 and 2011, after tying for 30th in 2009. Johnson has broken 70 on the course only once in 12 rounds, when he posted a 4-under-par 68 in the second round two years ago. He missed the tournament last year because a back injury caused by coming back too soon from right knee surgery late in 2011. ... Johnson could have two or three major titles by now. He took a three-stroke lead to the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, but closed with an 11-over-par 82 to slide to a tie for eighth. Two months later, he held a one-stroke lead on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, but made bogey and also was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker. That left him in a tie for fifth, two strokes out of the playoff in which Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson. His best result in a major was a tie for second in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George's, three shots behind Darren Clarke.

6. Luke Donald, England -- Another player on the list of best golfers without a major title, Donald shows up this week at Augusta National as one of the biggest question marks. He spent a total of 56 weeks atop the World Golf Rankings in the last two seasons, but took a long break and has gotten off to a slow start this year. His tie for fourth in the Tampa Bay Championship seemed to indicate that he was regaining his old form, but then he made the trip to the Maybank Malaysian Open, where he was the highest-ranked player in the world but missed the cut. ... Even though he is one of the shorter hitters among the best golfers in the world, Luke has had his moments at Augusta National with his precise game. His best finish came in his initial appearance in the first major of the year, when he posted three rounds in the 60s, but a 5-over-par 77 in round three relegated him to a tie for third. He also tied for 10th in 2007 and tied for fourth in 2011, when he opened with a 72 before reeling off three consecutive rounds in the 60s to finish four shots behind winner Charl Schwartzel. ... Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter lead a contingent of players trying to become the first Englishman to capture of the of the Grand Slam events since Nick Faldo won the 1996 Masters, thanks to Greg Norman's collapse in the final round. Luke has seven top-10 finishes in the majors, with his best results that tie for third at Augusta and another tie for third in the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah.

7. Justin Rose, England -- When Rose tied for third in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island last August, he finally posted a finish in a professional major better than the one he had as an amateur. He was 17 years old when he chipped in on the final hole to tie for fourth, winding up as low amateur, in the 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Big things were projected for him, and he turned pro soon after, but missed the cut in his first 21 tournaments. He's finally is living up to the promise he showed way back when. ... Rosy is playing in the Masters for the eighth time and he has shown that Augusta National might be the place where he could win his first major title. He has finished in the top 25 in six of those appearances, including a tie for fifth in 2007 and a tie for eighth last year. In 2004, he took the lead in round one with a 67 and still was in front after shooting 71 the next day, but struggled to a 77 on Saturday and wound up in a tie for 22nd. ... Until his strong showing last year in the final major of the season, Rose's best finishes in the Grand Slam events were that tie for fifth at Augusta and another tie for fifth in the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields. The way he is playing right now, he might be ready to take the next step and become the first Englishman to win a major since Nick Faldo in the 1996 Masters. Rose has four top-10 results on both major tours this year, including runner-up finishes in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

8. Matt Kuchar, United States -- Kuchar has not played up to his standards since winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, and that continued last week when he posted a lackluster tie for 22nd in the Valero Texas Open. However, he has played well overall, with three top-10 finishes and has finished in the top 25 in six of his eight outings this year, so if he can play back to his earlier form, he could be a factor in the Masters for the second consecutive year. ... After winning the 2012 Players Championship and the Accenture earlier this season, the next step for Kooch is to win a major title, and he gets his next chance this week. He would be a popular champion at Augusta National, too, having graduated from Georgia Tech. Last year, he posted his best finish in a major when he closed with a 3-under-par 69 to tie for third, two strokes out of the playoff in which Bubba Watson defeated Louis Oosthuizen. Kuchar carded birdies on the 12th and 13th holes in the final round before holing a tap-in eagle putt on the 15th to tie for the lead, but made bogey on the par-3 16th after missing the green and fell short when he closed with two pars. ... Kuchar opened with a 2-over-par 74 and could not break 70 in any of his four rounds at TPC San Antonio. He was still in contention at 4-under for the tournament when he came to the 18th hole while playing the back nine first in round three. But he dumped his third shot into the water guarding the green and took a double-bogey 7 before making bogey on the next hole, his only blemishes in a round of 71.

9. Bubba Watson, United States -- Still enjoying the ride as Masters champion, Bubba made an appearance on "The Joe Show" on CNBC last week and unveiled the first hovercraft golf cart (no kidding), made for one of his sponsors, Oakley, by Neoteric Hovercraft of Indiana. The vehicle takes hazards out of play, skimming across water, sand, asphalt, grass and whatever terrain you might find on a golf course. Retail price is more than $20,000, but Watson was quick to point out that his was free. You won't see it this week at Augusta National. ... Before claiming the Green Jacket last year with an epic hook shot out of the trees on the second playoff hole to beat Louis Oosthuizen, Watson's best finish the first major of the year was a tie for 20th in 2008. He came close to winning a major in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, when he took the lead in a three-hole aggregate playoff against Martin Kaymer of Germany with a birdie on the first extra hole. Kaymer evened things up with a birdie on the next hole and it essentially was over when Bubba hit his second shot into the water on the final hole. ... Watson's game seems to be in good shape heading into his title defense, as he has finished in the top 20 in five of his six tournaments this year, with a tie for fourth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions his best and a missed cut in the Northern Trust Open his worst. He also unveiled his Masters wardrobe last week, going with a red-and-white striped shirt in round one, followed by blue on white, all red and all white on Sunday.

10. Keegan Bradley, United States -- Winning a major championship in your first try is a tough act to follow, but Bradley is doing his best as he enters his second Masters this week. After winning the 2011 PGA Championship in a playoff over Jason Dufner at Atlanta Athletic Club, he played in all four of the Grand Slam tournaments for the first time last year and closed out the major season with a tie for third in the PGA at Kiawah Island. ... He has the power game to win at Augusta National if he can get his long putter going, and recorded a very respectable tie for 27th last year in his initial appearance in the first major of the year. Keegan overcame shooting 77-73 in the middle rounds, closing with a 3-under-par 69, and might be ready to contend after getting some inside dope on the course from his friend, three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, in an early trip to Augusta last month. ... His game is rounding into shape nicely with the meat of the season approaching, having played 10 times already this season on the PGA Tour. Following a bit of a rough patch after he tied for fourth in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Bradley has finished in the top 10 in each of his last four tournaments, and his five top-10s are tied with Bill Haas for the most on the circuit. He has three victories in his first three-plus seasons on the PGA Tour and it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the big fan of the Boston Celtics is wearing green on Sunday night.

11. Adam Scott, Australia -- Other than the four winners, Scott probably had the best major season of any golfer last year, although he still might have some scar tissue from his collapse on the last four holes of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He comes into the Masters with seven top-25 finishes in the last eight Grand Slam tournaments, including a tie for second in the 2011 Masters and that runner-up finish last year in England, where he made bogeys on the last four holes and lost by one stroke to Ernie Els. ... Scotty is playing at Augusta National for the 12th time, and had one arm in the Green Jacket two years ago before Charl Schwartzel carded birdies on the last four holes to steal away with the title. Adam tied for second with Jason Day, who also was trying to become the first Aussie to win the Masters, which would have alleviated some of the agony fans from Down Under went through with Greg Norman at Augusta. Scott also tied for eighth in the first major of the year last season and tied for ninth in his first appearance at Augusta in 2002. ... Scott has followed roughly the same abbreviated schedule he set up last year, which led to his strong performances in the majors, the worst of which was a tie for 15th in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. He has two top-10 finishes in four starts this year, and if he can play the way he did while shooting 66-64 in the last two rounds of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, he might become the first Aussie to win a major since Geoff Ogilvy captured the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

12. Webb Simpson, United States -- Simpson will arrive at Augusta National to play in the Masters for the second time and hopes that this will become the first season in which he plays all four majors. Last year, after he claimed his first major title in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, he skipped the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes because his wife, Dowd, was expecting the birth of their first child, James. Webb was the first major champion to skip the next Grand Slam event since Tiger Woods missed the last two in 2008 because of left knee surgery following his victory at the U.S. Open. ... Simpson was at even par for his first three rounds at Augusta last year before his game went sideways in the final round and he closed with a 6-over-par 78. That was only two shots worse than the score he posted the first time he played the course as a 12-year-old in 1998. He made birdies on the 12th and 16th holes, and missed a four-foot birdie putt on No. 18 that would have allowed him to break 80. It's been his favorite course ever since and a place where he could add a second major title. ... Simpson is playing better than he was last year at this time, having recorded six finishes in the top 20 in nine events, but only two in the top 10, and is coming off a missed cut in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Other than his victory in the U.S. Open, his best finish in a major was a tie for 14th in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.

13. Steve Stricker, United States -- Part of Stricker's plan to play an abbreviated schedule this season, with 11 events on the slate right now, was to be ready for the majors and the World Golf Championships. He tied for fifth in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and finished second to Tiger Woods in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, so the strategy seems to be working. However, he showed rust from the inactivity in his last outing, a tie for 38th in the Shell Houston Open, and hopes he can play back to that earlier form this week in the Masters. ... Strick is making his 13th appearance at Augusta National, which has not been kind to him. He has finished in the top 10 only twice in the first major of the season and has missed the cut five times, including three in a row through 2008. His best result was a tie for sixth in 2009, when he shot 69-68 in the middle rounds, and he also tied for 10th in 2001, when he opened with a 6-under-par 66, but he could not break 70 the rest of the way. In fact, he has broken 70 only five times in 38 rounds at Augusta, and not since those two in 2009. ... Stricker has 20 victories in his pro career, including 12 on the PGA Tour, and about the only thing missing at the age of 46 is a major title. He came closest when he finished second, two strokes behind Vijay Singh, in the 1998 PGA Championship at Sahalee, one of his 10 top-10 finishes in the Grand Slam tournaments.

14. Hunter Mahan, United States -- Following his second-half slump last season, Mahan has bounced back nicely with seven top-10 finishes this year, including a loss to Matt Kuchar in the final of his title defense at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. However, this week at the Masters he will have to bounce back from his worst performance in nine starts, a missed cut in the Shell Houston Open. ... This will be Hunter's seventh appearance at Augusta National, where he has played well despite missed cuts in 2008 and 2011. His best result was a tie for eighth in 2010, a year after he tied for 20th after opening with a 6-under-par 66, his best score in the first major of the year. Mahan also tied for 12th last year, following a 68 in the third round with a closing 74 that cost him another top-10 finish. He played in the Masters for the first time in 2003, and although he did not break 70 in any of his four rounds, he made the cut and wound up in a tie for 28th. ... Mahan had two top-20 finishes in the majors last year, with a tie for 19th in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in addition to his finish at Augusta. However, he has missed the cut in four of his last eight appearances in the Grand Slam tournaments and does not have a top-10 finish since his tie for 10th at Augusta in 2010. His best finishes in the majors were ties for sixth in the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie.

15. Lee Westwood, England -- Westwood's name comes up any time talk turns to the best player who has never won a major championship, and it will happen again this week when he gets to Augusta National for the Masters. One thing is certain, he has had more opportunities recently than any others without that elusive title, with two top-10 finishes in the Big Four in each of the last four seasons. He has finished second twice and third five times in the last five years. ... Westwood, trying to become the first Englishman to win a major since Nick Faldo in the 1996 Masters, is playing at Augusta for the 14th time, and has come close two of the last three years. In 2010, he took a one-stroke lead into the final round after opening with three rounds in the 60s, but hooked his tee shot on the first hole en route to a bogey and went on to shoot 1-under-par 71 to finish second, three shots behind Phil Mickelson. Last year, he opened with a 67 and closed with a 68, but wound up in a tie for third, two strokes out of the playoff in which Bubba Watson defeated Louis Oosthuizen. His only other top-10 finish in the first major of the year was a tie for sixth in 1999, and he also tied for 11th in 2008 and 2011. ... After a bit of a slow start in his first season living in the United States, Westy's game seemed to be coming around when he tied for 10th in his last outing at the Shell Houston Open. A solid ball-striker, he's been working on his chipping and putting, and that's what it takes to win at Augusta.

16. Ian Poulter, England -- Taking time off before majors has not worked for Poulter, so he decided to play his way into the Masters last week at the Valero Texas Open. Whether it works or not won't be known until this week, but he was not sharp most of the way at TPC San Antonio on his way to a tie for 37th. Since finishing in the top 10 in his first two events on the PGA Tour this year, he has not been in the top 20 in three tournaments since. ... Even though he has never won a major, Poults showed last year that he might be on the verge of breaking through by finishing in the top 10 in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, starting with a solo seventh, his best finish in eight Masters. He went on to tie for ninth in the Open Championship at Royal St. George's and tie for third in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Previously, Poulter had only three top-10s in the majors in his career, with his best finish solo second, four shots behind Padraig Harrington in the 2008 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. He let a good chance at Augusta National get away in 2010, when he started with 68-68 to tie for the lead with Lee Westwood, before playing the weekend in 74-73 to wind up in a tie for 10th. ... Poulter started with a solid 2-under-par 70 last week at TPC San Antonio, but took himself out of contention by playing the middle rounds in 75-74. He saved his best for last, a closing 69, carding birdies on three of his first seven holes and adding two more down the stretch to possibly get a lift heading to Augusta.

17. Jason Dufner, United States -- Unfortunately, Duf has received more recognition for what has become known as "Dufnering," than he has for his golf game heading into the Masters. While making an appearance at J. Erik Jonsson Community School in Dallas, he was caught sitting almost comatose on the floor up against a wall. Christine Lee of KXAS-TV, a video journalist who was covering Dufner's appearance at the school, took the picture and it was posted on Twitter, where it went viral. Soon, other pros and fans were posting pictures of themselves while "Dufnering." ... Dufner is playing at Augusta National this week for the third time. In 2010, he closed with a 3-under-par 69 and wound up in a tie for 30th, and last year, he was in the picture for two days after opening with 69-70, but he shot 75-75 on the weekend to plummet down the leaderboard to a tie for 24th. ... Duf has shown in the last two years that he can be a major player, especially when he lost to Keegan Bradley by one stroke in a three-hole aggregate playoff in the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. He held a five-shot lead with three holes remaining, but made bogeys on each of those holes, while Bradley carded two birdies to force the playoff. Dufner also tied for fifth in the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits and tied for fourth in the U.S. Open last year at the Olympic Club. He'll have to find that form quickly at Augusta because his highest finishes this year were two ties for ninth on the European Tour, and his best on the PGA Tour was a tie for 12th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

18. Ernie Els, South Africa -- After failing to qualify for the Masters last year for the first time since 1993, ending a streak of 18 consecutive appearances, the Big Easy took care of that for the foreseeable future when he captured the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes three months later. After starting slowly this season on the PGA Tour, he comes into the first major of the year off a tie for 14th in the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand. ... Els has four major titles to his credit, but has yet to don the Green Jacket, although he has had his chances while finishing second twice at Augusta National. In 2004, he closed with a 5-under-par 67, but finished one stroke behind Phil Mickelson, who holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. In 2000, Ernie bounced back from a 74 on Saturday with a 68, but wound up three shots behind Vijay Singh. Those runner-up finishes started and finished a run of five consecutive finishes of sixth or better at Augusta, but he has none in his last seven appearances, including two missed cuts. ... Els captured the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997, and the Open Championship in 2002 and last year, but has more than his share of heartbreak in the Grand Slam tournaments. He has finished second on six occasions and third five times among his 33 top-10 finishes in the majors. After missing the cut in the last three majors of 2011 and then missing the Masters a year ago, he started to turn things around with a tie for ninth in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club before winning the oldest tournament in the world.

19. Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa -- A year ago, it appeared that Oosthuizen might earn his second major title and get the Green Jacket from his good friend, Charl Schwartzel, after holing a 4-iron shot from 253 yards for a double eagle on the second hole to take the lead in the final round of the Masters. However, Bubba Watson made an improbable par out of the trees on the second playoff hole to beat the South African, and defending champion Schwartzel passed the torch to Bubba instead. ... Even though he showed he was a major player by winning the 2010 Open Championship by a whopping seven strokes at St. Andrews, his 2012 performance at Augusta National came out of nowhere. He had missed the cut in his only three previous appearances in the first major of the year, failing to even equal the par of 72 in any of his six rounds, which he played in an aggregate 19-over-par. However, he opened with 68-72 before playing the weekend in 69-69, including a clutch four-foot putt for par on the 72nd hole to get into the playoff. ... Louie's double eagle was the fourth in the 76-year history of the Masters, the first on the second hole and the first of his life. He was trying to become the second player to claim a major title with a double eagle in the final round, which only Gene Sarazen has done, in the 1935 Masters. Instead, Oosty had to settle for his third top-10 finish in the Grand Slam events, as he also tied for ninth in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.

20. Zach Johnson, United States -- Even though he has been unable early this year to find the form that took him to two victories last season on the PGA Tour, Zach shows up at the Masters knowing exactly what it will take for him to win at Augusta National. In 2007, the short-hitter laid up all 16 times on the par-5 holes and played them in a bogey-free 11-under-par to claim the Green Jacket by two strokes over Tiger Woods, Rory Sabbatini and Retief Goosen. ... Even though he was able to pull it off in that one brilliant week, playing the lengthened course at Augusta has not been easy for Johnson, who does not have another top-10 finish and has missed the cut three times in the first major of the year. He was putting up a good defense of his title in 2008, but closed with a 77 and slid down the leaderboard to a tie for 20th, his second-best finish in the Masters. Since shooting 68 in the third round of his title defense, he has not broken 70 in 13 rounds at Augusta, recording an cumulative score of 30-over during that stretch. ... When Johnson tied for ninth in the Open Championship last year at Royal St. George's, it was only his fourth top-10 finish in the major championships. He came close in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, tying for second with Rory McIlroy, one stroke out of the playoff in which Martin Kaymer of Germany defeated Bubba Watson. A year earlier, Zach tied for 10th in the final major of the year at Hazeltine.

Others receiving consideration: Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland; Martin Kaymer, Germany; Nick Watney, United States; Rickie Fowler, United States; Bill Haas, United States; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Jim Furyk, United States; Carl Pettersson, Sweden; Bo Van Pelt, United States; Peter Hanson, Sweden; Jason Day, Australia; John Merrick, United States; Charles Howell III, United States; Tim Clark, South Africa; Michael Thompson, United States; Martin Laird, Scotland.
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