News & Opinion

Only top 5 have shot at green jacket

Five guys have a chance today to win the Masters.

Looking at this leaderboard (scores), I think 16 under will win; 15 under will be in a playoff.

So, if in fact that’s true, how many can get to 15 under?

I don’t think the guys at 6 under can get to 15 under. I just don’t see anyone going out there today and shooting 9-under 63.

Another interesting point: there are no ties on the leaderboard until sixth place, at 6 under, which is eight shots back.

Leader Patrick Reed at 14 under is three shots clear of Rory McIlroy at 11 under, who is two shots ahead of Rickie Fowler at 9 under, with Jon Rahm one shot back at 8 under and then Henrik Stenson at 7 under.

So, there is a seven-shot difference between the leader Reed and fifth-place Stenson.

Could Reed choke, and, if so, what is the worst score that he might shoot? A 75 would drop Reed to 11 under.

Could McIlroy choke, too? I doubt it, because the 2016 Ryder Cup dynamic from Reed’s epic 1-up victory at Hazeltine National could resurface today and turn the final pairing into a de facto match-play duel down the stretch.

Ultimately, 16 under is my target score to win. Otherwise, 15 under would be in a playoff.

If Reed, who has shot 69 or better every day, shoots 70 today, he will win. McIlroy would need to shoot 5-under 67 to get to 16 under. Can he do it? Certainly. If he does, McIlroy, a four-time major champion, would put plenty of heat on Reed.

Winning a Ryder Cup in match play is completely different from winning a major championship in stroke play. Competitors attempt shots in match play that they won’t try in stroke play, knowing that the downside in a match merely is the loss of one hole. In stroke play, the loss could be two or more strokes squandered.

Entering today’s final round, I see only five players – Reed, McIlroy, Fowler, Rahm and Stenson – with shots at the green jacket.

Michael Breed, a PGA of America member and instructor, operates the Michael Breed Golf Academy at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in Bronx, N.Y. He is the former host of “The Golf Fix” on Golf Channel and now hosts “A New Breed of Golf” on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET Monday-Friday.