Experts pick the players to watch at the Masters

AUGUSTA — The experts’ picks to watch at the Masters, which begins Thursday at Augusta National:

Johnny Miller

Miller is an analyst for NBC, as well as a U.S. Open champ and British Open champ.

“Tiger [Woods] and Phil [Mickelson] are favorites even when they aren’t playing well, and Tiger is playing very well, and is Phil is playing well, too. Phil is the most prepared, and he’s the most in love with Augusta. Tiger’s the same way. He feels like this place is his. Even last year when he wasn’t playing well, he could have won. Who knows? Maybe it’s time for Luke Donald. He has a good wedge game, putter and chipper. He has no real weaknesses, except maybe for length.”

Paul Azinger

Azinger is an analyst for ESPN, as well as a PGA Championship winner.

“Luke [Donald], I think, has to be extremely accurate with his wedges this week to win. It may be too long for him. I think Keegan [Bradley] is powerful enough, and he’s under the radar a bit. He’s played his way into the top 25, top 10 every week. He’s the last major winner. “

Gary Player

Player has won nine major championships, including three Masters.

“When he’s playing his best, there’s nobody better playing than Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy is there, every week. The hallmark of a champion, consistency. And Phil Mickelson is playing well.”

Billy Andrade

Andrade, an Alpharetta resident, is a former PGA Tour player who is now an on-course reporter for The Golf Channel.

“Tiger [Woods] because he is Tiger. Keegan Bradley because it’s his first Masters, and I am curious how he handles reading the greens. Bill Haas because he is like my little brother and you always root for and watch family members.”

Doug Ferguson

Ferguson has covered golf for the Associated Press for 14 years, and has covered 17 Masters.

“Ryan Palmer because I like the way his game fits. Tiger Woods because he’s hitting the ball great the past five months, and Louis Oosthuizen because when he puts his mind to it he’s super good.”

Frank Nobilo

Nobilo is a former PGA Tour player who is now an analyst for The Golf Channel.

“Luke Donald comes into the Masters with a win, with his equipment issues sorted out and under the radar. With his [Tiger Woods] win at Bay Hill on perhaps the most difficult course set-up of the year, makes him once again a very good bet for Augusta. Blessed with the most natural swing in the game and a resolve to match, which was proven by him repelling Tiger at Honda, [Rory] McIlroy has the opportunity to take up where he left off after 54 holes last year and complete the job. He’s golf’s next superstar.”

Brandel Chamblee

Chamblee is a former PGA Tour player who is now an analyst for The Golf Channel.

“Tiger Woods was dominant here from 1997 to 2002, winning three of the first six Masters as a professional. In that period, the driver was an asset for him. But since 2003, he’s struggled with the driver and at Augusta. Now, the driver is back for Tiger. Rory McIlroy has the length. He has the ability to work the ball in both directions. He has height in his shots and leads the PGA Tour in scrambling. Phil [Mickelson] says that he has never come to Augusta more confident with his game. Augusta brings out the best in Phil Mickelson, and Phil Mickelson’s best at Augusta National has won him three out of the last eight Masters. Wouldn’t surprise me if he made it four.”

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