The start of a tradition unlike any other -- the Masters -- is just a month away, and players will spend these next four weeks fine-tuning their games for the tree-lined fairways and lightning fast greens of Augusta National. Here are four players whose games already are trending in the right direction for the 2019 Masters.
The world's No. 1-ranked player has the lowest Masters odds for a reason. There is arguably no hotter player on the planet than Johnson, who has won two of his last four starts, including a five-shot romp over a star-studded field at the WGC-Mexico Championship two weeks ago. He led the tournament that week in Strokes Gained: Putting and was second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, both of which will serve him well in Augusta. Johnson has three top 10s in his last three starts in the Masters, and he's in better form now than he was in any of those years.
The four-time major winner intentionally skipped European Tour events early this year in an attempt to get a quick start on the PGA Tour. The strategy has worked. His four results from 2019 are tied for fourth, tied for fifth, tied for fourth and second. If it wasn't for Johnson, McIlroy would be the hottest player on the planet.
The question with McIlroy, who can complete the career grand slam at the Masters, is not his form or his affinity for the course. (He has finished in the top 10 in his last five starts there.) It's whether he can overcome the demons that led to his 2011 meltdown when he led by four shots entering the final round.
After tying for second at the Travelers Championship in June, Casey went seven months with only one top 10 finish. Since then, the smooth-swinging Englishman has three top 3 finishes in his last four worldwide starts. That includes a second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, in which he held the 54-hole lead. His recent track record at Augusta is stellar; he has three top 10s in his last four starts.
His well publicized mid-round tantrum at, and ensuing disqualification from, the Saudi International have overshadowed Garcia's excellent form of late. In his last 10 worldwide starts (excluding the Saudi event), he has nine top 10 finishes, including a tie for sixth in Mexico and a tie for ninth last week at the Honda Classic. And, as he showed in 2017, he knows how to win at Augusta.