6 Outsiders to Follow at the Masters
Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography
Featuring an exclusive field of 92, The Masters is the most coveted of invitations, one that provides an opportunity to become part of history. And it may even the "easiest" major to win - assuming one likes the golf course. When most of the aging past champions and amateurs are discounted, the number of possible contenders drops further, setting the viewing public up for a contest between the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm, the tournament favourites, while eyes will also be on Rory McIlroy and defending champion Tiger Woods.
However, looking beyond the world's top 20 players, we have picked out six names who could upset the odds and triumphantly place their arms inside that iconic Green Jacket on Sunday.
The two-time winner has shown encouraging form of late, posting strong finishes in both the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship, following candid discussions regarding his struggles with anxiety, something that the 42-year-old is now managing effectively. Powerful and artistic with a golf club in his hands, Augusta National could once again be the perfect canvas for the champion of 2012 and 2014.
Notably, Fuzzy Zoeller remains the last rookie to win on debut at the Masters, but if that record is ever to change, this year may well be the most likely opportunity. Much attention is rightly placed on the shoulders of Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, but Scottie Scheffler has been a hugely impressive performer on the PGA Tour, including a tie for fourth place finish at the PGA Championship in August. Missing the US Open at Winged Foot due to a positive COVID-19 test, the 24-year-old American is making that drive down Magnolia Lane for the first time - and could make some noise.
It doesn't seem right to consider the Australian an outsider, but at 41st in the Official World Golf Ranking, that's where the former number one stands in the game. However, the 33-year-old's record at Augusta National is superb, including a runner-up in 2011 and third place in 2013. He was also right in contention during the extraordinary finale last April, and boasts a scoring average of 71.27 from 33 rounds. Day is one to watch.
Likewise, in the recent past, the popular Californian would be among the tournament favourites, but without a top ten finish since January, he has slumped to the fringes of the world's top 50. So, what suggests that this could finally be his time? Nothing, really, aside from his most recent results here, including a hard-fought runner-up to Patrick Reed in 2018 and a strong performance last April. You just never know.
Playing some of the best golf of his career at Harding Park, Casey was desperately unfortunate not to secure that elusive major at the PGA Championship, only to be denied by the brilliance of Morikawa. The 43-year-old plays with a relaxed perspective and boasts a consistent record at Augusta - including five top tens. Will this be his moment? Probably not, but he will surely play well and be a factor at some point over the four days.
The Irishman's past results at the Masters are uninspiring, which is somewhat surprising considering his touch and imagination, which should connect with Augusta National. However, this time he's in Georgia as a major champion, the holder of the Claret Jug. That should provide added confidence - and he'll relish the Thursday and Friday grouping with Tiger Woods and U.S. Amateur winner Andy Ogletree.
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