Who is Most Likely to Win Their First Major at The Masters
To win any major championship for the first time would produce a lifelong memory not easily forgotten.
To triumph in The Masters for your inaugural major, however, now that’s even sweeter.
There will be plenty of players dreaming of their first taste of major glory to happen at Augusta, and there are a few who have a genuine shot at turning that dream into reality.
Below, we’ll explore four players who we believe have every chance of becoming a major championship winner for the first time at The Masters.
Sungjae Im may not have showed a lot of promise at the other major championships, but his T2nd finish during the winter 2020 version should be sufficient enough evidence that he has the game for Augusta glory. Sure, the conditions were vastly different due to the timeframe it was played in, but he still navigated the same 72 holes as everyone else that week. Yes, missing the cut during the 2021 season may weaken this argument, but Im is such a laser-like golfer that we can put that down to an off-day (or two).
Victory here would mark the third of his PGA Tour career, which isn’t too many - especially with the likes of Scheffler winning three times in five starts. Of course, the American would be regarded as the exception there, but more wins may have been expected from Im by now. However, we must remember that he is still - remarkably, may we add - only 23 years of age and the South Korean could play in 20+ more Masters. This will surely be a week he is targeting and when you possess a game like Sungjae Im, you’d be pursuing victory at most events.
Approximately 12 months ago, we explored what had happened to Patrick Cantlay after a difficult few months. Less than eight months later and the American had won three titles - including the alluring Tour Championship. Now, $15 million better off, we may start to ask similar questions after a lacklustre start to the season. In all fairness, the same could be said about Jon Rahm and the previous season’s world’s number one and two look uncomfortable currently. Still, Cantlay is due a major, alongside Xander Schauffele, and it’s unfathomable that neither have achieved this feat.
Cantlay’s poor form can be linked to his playoff loss to Scottie Scheffler for the Phoenix Open, which the majority of the golf world expected him to secure. From there, A T33rd finish at The Genesis Invitational was followed by a missed cut at The Players. He didn’t set the world alight at the WGC-Match Play and thus, why are we including him? The bigger question is: how important is form heading into an event of this magnitude? If we look at Hideki Matsuyama last year, his run up to The Masters, from the Phoenix Open onwards, was T42-Cut-T15-T18-Cut-T42-T30 and then the victory. Whilst form is evidently important, it really isn’t the be-all and end-all - which is good news for Patrick Cantlay.
There’s a very strong chance that Xander Schauffele is the greatest golfer to not have won a major on tour right now, but again, Cantlay is just as good. At the age of 28, there will be no panic about his absence of major victories, but as the clock continues ticking, those questions will only increase in prevalence. As of right now, Schauffele is in a good position, with four PGA Tour victories and a gold medal that only the smallest percentage of professional golfers can say they’re earned. However, if he’s winless in majors during the next two or three seasons, it will be a completely different scenario.
We all know how good these guys are. It’s unbelievable until you see it in the flesh; ripping drives 350+ yards and finding greens from 270 yards away. So, considering the general standard of golf has increased significantly, it’s also a lot harder to win a major - let alone get anywhere near Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18. Also, if Schauffele is most likely to win anywhere, it’s at Augusta. A T2nd finish in 2019 was supported by a T3rd position last year, so he’s occupied every part of the top three other than becoming champion. This year, however, we think he can certainly go one better and become the major champion that has long been expected.
Strap in my fellow Europeans, it’s going to be a wild ride with so many Europeans at this year’s Masters. Out of all of them, Thomas Pieters looks to be among the most threatening and he’ll be desperate to get his first major under his belt. Two top 10 finishes - including one at Augusta - during his major career is promising reading, although he missed the cut the last time he was here in 2018. Having won the Portugal Masters in 2021 and then the Abu Dhabi Championship this year, he’ll be heading to Georgia with confidence firmly flowing through his bloodstream.
As a hot-headed professional, we can’t be overly sure how he might react to a bad break or a controversial ruling, but when you have the swing of the Belgian’s, success is rarely far away. A win at The Masters would also mark his first success on American soil, and it wouldn’t be too surprising if the floodgates opened after this potentially historic weekend.
It’s unbelievable that these four golfers are yet to win major championships, although they all have time on their side to correct that.
At the age of 23, Im will have plenty more opportunities but Pieters, having recently turned 30, will be desperate to claim his first.
Do you agree with our list or do other non-major champions stand a greater chance of victory?
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