Of the 90-plus players in the 2020 Masters field, 10 have ties to Georgia, including two former champions who played their college golf in the Peach State and are among the favorites for this week’s event.
Heading the list of players with Georgia ties are 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, who led Augusta State to back-to-back improbable NCAA Championships in 2010 and ’11, and ex-Georgia Bulldog Bubba Watson, who won the Masters in 2012 and ’14.
There are two other Masters champions in the field with ties to the state – Augusta native and long-time Columbus resident Larry Mize and St. Simons Island resident Zach Johnson, one of three Masters participants who reside along the Georgia coast.
Matt Kuchar and J.T. Poston are the other two St. Simons residents, with Kuchar joining Mize and 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree as the trio of former Georgia Tech golfers competing in Augusta this week. There are also three ex-Bulldogs in the field – Watson and former teammates Kevin Kisner and Brendon Todd. Reed is one of three players in the field with ties to Augusta, the other two being Augusta natives Mize and Charles Howell.
Here’s a look at the 10 players with ties to Georgia competing in the 2020 Masters.
Patrick Reed: With eight victories in his eight full seasons on the PGA Tour, Reed has established himself as one of the game’s top big-event players, with two wins in WGC events, two in the Playoffs and a Tournament of Champions victory. He has top-4 finishes in all three U.S. majors since 2017 and tied for 10thin last year’s British Open. Reed played respectably in the two most recent majors, tying for 13thin both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, and tied for third in the top European Tour event – the BMW PGA Championship – last month. Apart from his 2018 win, his record in Augusta is not that great, with no other to-20 finishes in six starts.
Bubba Watson: In addition to his two green jackets, Watson has claimed two WGC titles and one in the Playoffs among his 12 PGA Tour titles, but has not won since his three-victory season in 2018. His length off the tee makes him a contender every time he tees it up at Augusta National, and he comes into this week in form after ties for seventh at Shadow Creek and fourth at Sherwood CC. Since his two wins in Augusta, Watson has tied for fifth and 12ththe last two years.
Zach Johnson: The distance challenged Johnson won in difficult weather conditions in 2007, and with rain in the forecast in Augusta this week, weather could be the biggest factor in the Masters since ’07. Johnson’s last win was the 2015 British Open, the 12thin a career that includes two victories each in Atlanta, San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Hawaii. Johnson’s only other top 10 in Augusta was a T9 in 2015, and he struggled over the past two seasons before some promising showings the past few months. He tied for seventh in Greensboro and turned in a strong T8 finish in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, a long and demanding layout.
Matt Kuchar: His game has been in decline over the past year after a 2-win, 2-runner-up showing in 2018. His last top 10 was a tie for seventh in LA in February and he missed the cut in both previous 2020 majors. The 42-year-old Kuchar has nine career wins on the PGA Tour including the Players, Match Play and a Playoffs event, but no majors. However, he has four top 10s in Augusta between 2012 and ’17 including a trio of top 5s, along with eight other major top 10s. He tied for 12thin the Masters last year, giving him 10 straight made cuts, but his poor recent form has removed him from his annual position as a Masters dark horse.
Kevin Kisner: The Aiken, S.C., resident has assumed Kuchar’s status as one of the most likely long shots to contend at Augusta National despite a lack of length off the tee. He is 4-for-4 in making the cut, with a T21 last year his best showing. Kisner contended until the end in both the 2017 PGA and ’18 British, and among his three career PGA Tour titles is the 2019 Match Play, where he beat Kuchar in the finals. His first win came in Georgia in the 2015 RSM Classic at Sea Island GC. Kisner posted back-to-back top-5 finishes in Greensboro and Boston in August and turned in a top-15 recently at Sherwood CC.
Charles Howell: This will be his 50thcareer start in a major, and he has just one top 10 to show for it, a tie for 10thin the 2003 PGA. He has a respectable record in his hometown major, making the cut six of nine times with six finishes of 32ndor better, and is back in the tournament for the second straight time after missing out on an Augusta invite nine of the previous 10 years. Ordinarily one of the most consistently successful players on tour, Howell has just one top 10 in all of 2020, a tie for third in Minnesota in late July. His last victory came in Georgia in 2018 at Sea Island GC in an event where he will be among the favorites next week.
J.T. Poston: Now in his fifth season on the PGA Tour, Poston emerged from obscurity with a win in Greensboro in the summer of 2019, shooting a final round 62 to edge out home state favorite Webb Simpson. He got off to fast start once the 2020 season resumed in Junes with consecutive finishes of 10that Colonial and 8that Hilton Head and made a strong run at a second win last month in Mississippi, placing third. This will be his first Masters after two appearances each in the U.S. Open and PGA, where he has not finished better than 50th.
Brendon Todd: After his second career comeback from the depths of the World Golf Rankings, he is again a top-50 player with back-to-back wins last fall and a number of excellent finishes this year. Todd has played well of late with ties for 17thand 23rdin the two most recent majors and a top-10 in the Chicago Playoffs event. He will be making only his second Masters start, missing the cut in 2015 after his first PGA Tour win the year before. Todd’s straight and steady playing style may not be the best fit for Augusta National, especially in wet weather.
Larry Mize: The 1987 Masters champion is nearing the end of his long run in his home town, but has managed to make the cut three of the last six years, most recently in 2017. At the age of 62, Mize is a Champions Tour regular, and picked up a top 10 earlier this year in Tucson. Although he is among the least heralded players to win the Masters, his victory was no fluke, as evidenced by subsequent finishes of sixth in 1992 and third in ’94.
Andy Ogletree won the 2019 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst before having his senior season at Georgia Tech cut short by Covid 19. He was twice a second team All-America selection and was a member of the victorious U.S. Walker Cup team last year, and has delayed turning pro until after competing in Augusta. Tyler Strafaci, Ogletree’s teammate at Georgia Tech for three seasons, won the 2020 U.S. Amateur and will be competing in the 2021 Masters. This will be Ogletree’s second appearance in a major in 2020. He turned in an excellent first round score in the U.S. Open, but fell back the next day and missed the cut.
COMING TOMORROW: A preview of the 2020 Masters.