AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Three-times Masters winner Nick Faldo, one of the best golfers to emerge from the Northern Hemisphere, has a feeling that a player from south of the equator is likely to triumph this week at Augusta National.
While reigning champion Jordan Spieth, fellow American Bubba Watson and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy are among the pre-tournament favorites for the year’s first major, Englishman Faldo fancies either Australia or South Africa for success.
“I actually like a lot of the Southern Hemisphere boys,” Faldo told Reuters when asked which players he felt were most likely to win this week’s Masters.
“Obviously Jason Day, I just hope he’s fit and well. Adam Scott is on a mission and look how well he has been playing.”
World number one Day is the title favorite this week, having won six times in his last 13 starts, and the long-hitting Australian will be difficult to beat at Augusta National where he tied for second in 2011 and placed third in 2013.
Day’s compatriot Scott clinched the 2013 Masters and is also tipped for further success after clinching two consecutive PGA Tour victories in Florida recently, at the Honda Classic and WGC-Cadillac Championship.
“(Charl) Schwartzel is a dangerous man, he won again and was a champion here,” Faldo said of the South African, who landed his first major title at the 2011 Masters and brings good form to Augusta after winning the Valspar Championship last month.
“Louis Oosthuizen I also like,” Faldo said of another South African, who cruised to a seven-shot victory at the 2010 British Open and lost out in a playoff for the 2012 Masters.
“He might be a bit worn out. I just spoke to him and he’s played seven of the last eight weeks. Still, one more big week for him here.
“Those four guys are all strong contenders. As for an American, who knows what Bubba is going to get up to? Spieth’s swing is not quite on right now and it would be huge for Rickie Fowler and for golf if he got in there as a winner.”
Spieth has produced mixed form in recent weeks since winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January while world number five Fowler, a 27-year-old with broad appeal both in and outside the game, is still seeking his first major title.
The 80th Masters starts on Thursday.
Editing by Steve Keating