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Rookies Who Could Win The 2024 Masters

By: | Mon 08 Apr 2024

No debutant has won The Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller achieved the feat back in 1979.

Augusta National is a unique golf course that presents special challenges. It takes time to get to know its nuances and subtleties, and that is why so many first-timers come to grief.

As usual there are plenty of debutants in the field this week. But there is a different feel this time around. 

Here, we assess the chances of the Augusta rookies with the best chance of causing an upset.

Ludvig Aberg

Ludvig Aberg

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

It is almost impossible to believe that Aberg will be teeing it up in his first major. He has won on both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour and starred for Europe as a captain’s pick at the Ryder Cup in Italy. He is a wonderful driver of the golf ball, is a magnificent iron player and knows how to get the ball in the hole. But winning a major at his first attempt? That may be stretching the point even for this kid.

Wyndham Clark

Clark held off Rory McIlroy to win the US Open last year. He has won three times in less than a year after employing the services of a sports psychologist who has changed his approach to the game. By his own admission, Clark’s temper regularly got the better of him. But he is now in a good place and is full of confidence. He nearly won The Players Championship despite not being at his best. He has a genuine chance.

Eric Cole

Cole is the son of Bobby Cole and Laura Baugh and spent years stumbling around the mini tours before finally gaining his PGA Tour card and last season he produced a succession of top-10 finishes that saw him named rookie of the year. He is a fine ball striker and putts well but he is still looking for his first PGA Tour success and The Masters will surely be beyond him.

Nick Dunlap

Dunlap won the US Junior Amateur in 2021 and added the US Amateur in 2023. In winning the American Express he became the first amateur in 33 years to win on the PGA Tour - and he did so in style. He turned professional immediately afterwards but has struggled to replicate that form since then. Still only 20 years of age, I expect him to struggle.

Austin Eckroat

Eckroat is a hugely underrated 25-year-old American who was a world-class amateur, representing the USA at the Walker Cup. In May 2023, he was runner-up at the AT&T Byron Nelson and two months later finished tied 10th at the US Open. He made his breakthrough by winning the Cognizant Classic in 2024. Will do well to make the cut at Augusta.

Nicolai Hojgaard

Still only 23, Hojgaard has won three times on the DP World Tour. He finished last season by claiming the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, beating a world-class field. He is now playing full-time on the PGA Tour and there have been some promising performances but winning The Masters on debut is highly unlikely to happen.

Ryo Hisatsune

Hitatsune won three times on the Japan Challenge Tour in 2020 and 2021 and last year won the French Open on the DP World Tour. At just 21 years of age, the Japanese golfer seems to have a huge future ahead of him, but Augusta is just part of the learning process for him.

Jake Knapp

Knapp played on the PGA Tour Canada from 2016 to 2019 and again in 2022, winning three times. He played on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020, 2021, and 2023, finally earning his PGA Tour card in 2023. In February 2024, he won the Mexico Open. He hit just two fairways in the final round, becoming the first PGA Tour player since 1983 to hit two or fewer fairways in his final round and win. And that’s why he has no chance at Augusta.

Peter Malnati

Malnati’s victory at the Valspar Championship got him into The Masters and was one of the most emotional wins seen for many years. At 36, this was just his second PGA Tour success. He has had some strong words to say about LIV Golf and will have many people rooting for him at Augusta, including your correspondent. Sadly, it may all be too much for him.

Matthieu Pavon

The French golfer has been a revelation this year. His victory at the Open de Espana in October helped him to secure a PGA Tour card. What he has achieved is beyond even his expectations. He won the Farmers Insurance Open and came close to adding the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He then returned to the DP World Tour and finished fifth in Singapore. You just never know…

Stephan Jaeger

Another first-time winner, at the age of 34, German player Stephan Jaeger held off none other than Scottie Scheffler to land the Houston Open and claim his place in the field at Augusta National but he has no real pedigree when it comes to the majors. Making the final two days will be an achievement.

Akshay Bhatia

The last man in with his victory at the Texas Open. It was the 22-year-old American’s second success. He is a mercurial talent with a swing that possesses many moving parts and that means he is inconsistent. Winning in successive weeks is a huge ask and will certainly be beyond Bhatia, but he will be fun to watch!

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