Loading scores...
Dustin Johnson
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Odds and Ends

Golf Pick 'Em: Masters matchup breakdowns

by Will Gray
Updated On: April 4, 2021, 8:26 pm ET

Golf Pick 'Em is back for another season of picks and prizes in the NBC Sports Predictor app.

The free-to-play game has returned in 2021 and continues this week with the Masters. Each week participants will choose between a series of head-to-head matchups, plus select an overall tournament champion and winning score (or in this case total number of holes played).

Participants can compete for weekly cash prizes, with a $50,000 jackpot available for any participants who earn a perfect score (increasing up to $100,000 during some of the biggest events of the year). There will also be at least $1,000 awarded each week in cash and prizes, even if there is no player with a perfect score. This week for the first major of the year, the jackpot has been increased to $100,000.

Jackpots have been paid in out two of the last three weeks of the Predictor game, as the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players both saw participants splitting the $50,000 prize after notching perfect scores.

Here's a look at some of the keys to this week's set of 10 matchups at Augusta National Golf Club, where Dustin Johnson will defend the green jacket he slipped into six months ago:

Dustin Johnson vs. Bryson DeChambeau

Keys: The defending champ agains the man that wants to overpower Augusta National. It all went right for Johnson six months ago, as he cruised to a five-shot victory and a second major title while proving emphatically that he's the best player in the world. It means he's now riding a streak of five straight top-10 finishes at this event. He won in Saudi Arabia but has appeared somewhat pedestrian in his last three starts. DeChambeau tried the brawny approach in November with mixed success, although he won last month at Bay Hill and contended the following week at TPC Sawgrass. He'll surely take some aggressive lines once again on a course that should play firmer and faster but one where he still has yet to finish inside the top 20.

Edge: Johnson

Jordan Spieth vs. Rory McIlroy

Keys: Two major champions heading in opposite directions. Spieth has been in the midst of a resurgence for more than two months, adding to that momentum Sunday with a drought-breaking win at the Valero Texas Open. His wizardry around Augusta National is well-documented at this point. McIlroy will once again have a chance to round out the final leg of the career Grand Slam but he seems all out of sorts, missing the cut in wild fashion at TPC Sawgrass before being eliminated in group play in Austin. If he manages to snag that elusive green jacket, in this week of all weeks, it'll only add to the lore of the quest.

Edge: Spieth

Jon Rahm vs. Justin Thomas

Keys: Rahm heads to Augusta as a father, as his wife gave birth to the couple's first child over the weekend. It means the Spaniard is no longer a threat for a childbirth-related WD on a course where he has finished T-9 or better each of the last three years. Thomas finally solved a portion of the Augusta National riddle in November, finishing fourth for his first top-10 finish in five tries, and his results have gotten progressively better over the last three years. He's also buoyed by a stirring win last month at The Players when he shot 64-68 over the weekend.

Edge: Rahm

Phil Mickelson vs. Bubba Watson

Keys: These two men combine for five green jackets in the closet and not a ton of recent momentum. Watson has missed three of his last five cuts and hasn't cracked the top 10 in a stroke-play event since the Zozo in October, although he did finish T-9 two weeks ago after winning his match play group in Austin. Mickelson has fallen out of the top 100 in the world rankings, and moderate gains at TPC Sawgrass (T-35) and PGA National (T-25) were offset by a missed cut at Valero that included an opening-round 10. Both men made the cut in November but finished outside the top 50.

Edge: Watson

Xander Schauffele vs. Patrick Cantlay

Keys: Two men who contended at this event two years ago behind Tiger Woods, with Schauffele finishing T-2 and Cantlay T-9. Schauffele hasn't quite been the same since letting the Phoenix Open slip through his fingers two months ago, missing the cut at The Players and failing to win his group in Austin. Cantlay had the same combo of recent results after nearly winning this year in Palm Springs and Pebble Beach. Both men finished T-17 here in November.

Edge: Cantlay

Collin Morikawa vs. Tony Finau

Keys: Morikawa finished T-44 here in November as the reigning PGA champ, and he has since added a WGC victory at The Concession. But he sometimes battles a balky putter which again cropped up in Austin, and he'll need the short game to be precise this week to contend. Finau was in the final group two years ago with Woods and has top-10 finishes in seven of 11 major starts since 2018. He lost a playoff at Riviera to Max Homa to cap a run of three straight runner-up finishes earlier this year.

Edge: Finau

Viktor Hovland vs. Daniel Berger

Keys: These two were notable omissions from the November field, each ranked well inside the top 50 in the world by tournament week but not when the field was finalized nearly eight months prior. Berger hasn't played Augusta National since 2018, but he has finished T-32 or better in each of his three prior starts and won earlier this year at Pebble Beach. Hovland won at Mayakoba weeks after missing the November Masters and has finished T-33 or better in each of his four career major starts, including a T-32 here in 2019 that earned low amateur honors.

Edge: Berger

Lee Westwood vs. Tyrrell Hatton

Keys: Somewhat surprisingly, Westwood is the shortest price among Englishmen at several shops this week. It's a testament to his pedigree and recent form, which includes back-to-back runner-up finishes at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass. He has a lengthy history with Augusta National, including second-place showings in both 2010 and 2016. Hatton has developed a curious penchant for playing well in nearly every event - except the majors. Dating back to September 2019, he has missed only four cuts: each of the three 2020 majors and The Players last month.

Edge: Westwood

Scottie Scheffler vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick

Keys: The two highest-ranked players in the world without a PGA Tour victory, although both have come close already this year. Scheffler shot a 59 last year at The Northern Trust and lost the Match Play final two weeks ago to Billy Horschel, while Fitzpatrick has a T-5 at Riviera among three top-10 results in his last five starts. Scheffler finished T-19 last fall in his Masters debut, while the Englishman has made the cut in each of five starts as a pro, highlighted by a T-7 finish in 2016.

Edge: Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia vs. Patrick Reed

Keys: Garcia slipped a green jacket onto Reed's shoulders three years ago, as the two former champions are among a select group that most in the field would dearly love to join this week. Garcia missed the November edition because of COVID-19, ending a 20-year consecutive majors played streak in the process, and he followed a top-10 finish at TPC Sawgrass with a run to the quarterfinals in Austin. Reed started the year in strong form, winning at Torrey Pines, but he has just one top-10 since that victory. Reed finished T-10 in Augusta in November.

Edge: Garcia

Will Gray

Will Gray manages betting, fantasy and DFS content for NBC Sports EDGE across Golf, Soccer and NASCAR. He has covered the PGA Tour since 2013 and regularly contributes golf betting insight and analysis across multiple digital platforms. Gray has been with NBC Sports since 2007 and recently served as a writer, video analyst and podcast host for Golf Channel. You can follow him on Twitter @WillGrayGC