So you're a serious sports fan, but you're not afraid to admit your golf knowledge could use some work. Here's a guide that puts top golfers into context with other sports to help you hold your own when everybody is waxing poetic about The Masters this week. We look at the current top ten plus some familiar faces:

Phil Mickelson = Peyton Manning, Tiger = Brady: Matching Golfers With Other Athletes Slideshow


Luke Donald, Derrick Rose

Rose is the reigning MVP. Donald is the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year. Rose has kept the Bulls in first place for most of the past two seasons, while Donald has spent most of the past year as the world No. 1. Despite a high quantity of wins, neither has snagged the big prize (Rose an NBA championship, Donald a major title). Both still have a ton of time to get a title, but both also have the talent to claim one now.


Rory McIlroy, Aaron Rodgers

The 2011 Masters will perhaps be remembered not for Charl Schwartzel's victory, but for McIlroy's final-round collapse in which he blew a four-shot lead with an 80. McIlory bounced back with a dominant eight-shot win at the U.S. Open two months later. Aaron Rodgers had a similar experience of redemption. After throwing for 422 yards and four touchdowns against the Cardinals in the 2009 Wild Card Playoffs, Rodgers fumbled in overtime to hand the game to Arizona. The quarterback bounced back the following season to win the Super Bowl. Like Rodgers, McIlroy has been one of his sport's best players since his title, but he has yet to claim a grand slam crown since. Both players are looking to get back to championship form in 2012.


Lee Westwood, Andy Murray

For nearly two decades, Westwood has hovered around the top of his sport. He has been the European Tour Player of the Year three times and has 37 professional wins to his name. He is still yet to win a major though. Westwood has 12 top-ten major finishes including six top-three finishes. Murray, a fellow Brit, has spent most of the past few years as one of the world’s top players, but he has been denied a grand slam title despite reaching the semifinals of nine majors.


Hunter Mahan, Kevin Durant

Mahan has climbed up the world golf standings quietly with consistency. His game is not flashy and he does not show a ton of personality on the course, but he has skill. Off the course, while Durant is one of the most marketable NBA players, Mahan is a YouTube sensation from the 2011 video, "Golf Boys," and he is married to Cowboys cheerleader/Mavericks dancer Kandi Harris. While Durant has taken the Thunder to the top of the West, Mahan has become the United States' top-ranked player. He might be the nation's best hope come Sunday.


Steve Stricker, Jose Bautista

For the first 16 years of his career, Stricker was an average player. From the day he turned pro in 1990 to the spring of 2006, he won just three titles. Since the 2006 U.S. Open, Stricker has nine titles and five top-ten major finishes. In Bautista's first six seasons, his high in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage were 16, 63 and .420 respectively. In the past two seasons, he had home run totals of 54 and 43, RBI totals of 124 and 103 and slugging percentages of .617 and .608. Both athletes are late bloomers. Both also now want to prove they can be winners.


Martin Kaymer, Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews

Kaymer quickly became a young sensation in 2010, posting top-ten finishes in the U.S. and British Opens before taking home a title at the PGA Championship. By February 2011, Kaymer was the No. 1-ranked player in the world. Since then, he has struggled mightily, winning only one tournament on any tour. Kane and Toews (who really cannot be grouped apart) lifted the Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup, but Chicago has not returned to top form since that June.


Tiger Woods, Tom Brady

No, Brady has not been the center of an adultery scandal, but he has a lot in common with Tiger. Both players were on pace to break records. Brady had three Super Bowl titles by age 27; Woods had 14 majors by age 32. Brady seemed poised to surpass the record of four Super Bowl victories for a quarterback (Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw) and Woods was cruising toward breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors. Both players have had their success thwarted, and the clock is starting to tick on breaking those records. Brady has had chances, losing two Super Bowls in the past five years. Woods has six top-ten finishes since his last major win, but has not claimed the top spot. For both men, the doubters are starting to become louder and louder.


Charl Schwartzel, David Freese

The young Schwartzel was the darling of last year's Masters, coming out of the blue to birdie the final four holes and win his first PGA Tour title at Augusta. Likewise, Freese became an instant superstar in last year's playoffs, as his October featured a 13-game hitting streak, 21 RBI, a two-run triple to tie Game 6 with the Cardinals down to their final strike, and a walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Game 6 to force a Game 7. For both Schwartzel and Freese, the pressure is on in 2012 to prove 2011's stardom was no fluke.


Justin Rose, Josh Hamilton

Like Hamilton, a former No. 1 overall draft choice, Rose was a teenage prodigy. As a 17-year-old amateur in 1998, his fourth-place finish at the British Open had England grinning at its young talent. But 1999-2006 saw tough years for Rose, as he claimed only one top-ten finish at a major and nearly lost his PGA Tour card. In the past few years, Rose has returned to competitive form, and he is poised to prove to his critics he can win the big one.


Webb Simpson, Joe Johnson

Simpson has just two titles in his four and a half year career, and he has never finished higher than 14th at a major. But his consistency (58 cuts and 18 top-tens in the last three years) has raised him near the top of the rankings. Johnson has led the Hawks to the playoffs the past four years, but they have not surpassed the second round in any season. Both Simpson and Johnson have proven they can handle the bottom tier, but have not solved the superstars.


Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning

For so many years, Mickelson was labeled the best player yet to win a major. Finally, after 17 top-ten major finishes, Mickelson claimed his first grand slam event at Augusta in 2004. Mickelson has had success since that Masters, winning three more major titles, but the critics continue to say he needs to win more to boost his legacy. Manning also spent nearly a decade as his sport’s best player without a title until getting his first ring in the 2006 season. He too is looking to strengthen his legacy, now with the Broncos. Also, Manning's legacy as a winner has been overshadowed by the success of Brady. Mickelson has had to deal with the shadow of Woods.


Bubba Watson, Prince Fielder

Both southpaws can hit the ball a mile and both have had decent success. Fielder led the Brewers to the playoffs twice and Watson has two top-ten major finishes. But neither has done enough to get over the hump and win a championship. Does either athlete have the skill to win in the big time or will both only be known for putting on air shows?


Sergio Garcia, Steve Nash

Both athletes have been around for a long time and both once appeared destined for championships. In the 2000s, Nash was the arch-nemesis of Western Conference powerhouses the Lakers and the Spurs, while Garcia consistently fought Woods and Mickelson. Unfortunately for Nash and García, neither claimed a championship in their heyday. Garcia has 17 top-ten finishes at majors, including three runner-ups. Both men are among their sport's best players without (major) titles. Both also seem to be moving farther away from the winner's podium than closer to it.


Rickie Fowler, Alexander Ovechkin

Fowler, the youthful sensation, has swag and does not care what other people think of him. He's exciting and fun with the media, and he has a whole lot of talent. While Ovechkin has struggled in the playoffs, Fowler has struggled in majors, making only one top ten in eight tries.


Zach Johnson, Carolina Hurricanes

After winning a green jacket in 2007, it seems like Johnson dropped off the face of the earth. He has missed six cuts at majors and made only two grand slam top tens since his victory. He has not had a professional victory since May 2010. Similarly, since the Hurricanes' Stanley Cup title in 2006, they have only made the playoffs once and have not cracked 100 points.


Jim Furyk, Ray Lewis

Both Furyk and Lewis have been among the top men in their craft for as long as anyone can remember. Furyk was ranked in the top ten for more than 350 weeks between 1999 and 2010. Lewis has made 13 Pro Bowls since 1997. Each got one championship in the early 2000s (Super Bowl XXXV for Lewis and the 2003 U.S. Open for Furyk), and both have been close to titles since. Both have also reached an age where the final days of their competitive careers may be nearing an end.


Vijay Singh, Miami Hurricanes Football

At the turn of the century, Singh was a one-man powerhouse who kept Woods off balance. From the 1998 PGA Championship to the 2006 U.S. Open, Singh won three majors and claimed 14 17 top-ten major finishes in that span. Since then, he has virtually disappeared, claiming only one professional victory and no top-ten major finishes. Singh did not make a grand slam cut in 2011. In Coral Gables, the U has gone from one of the country's most feared programs to a middle-of-the-road ACC team in the past decade.

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