10 Masters outside bets who could cause a shock at Augusta
Dustin Johnson is aiming for his fourth consecutive victory, Rory McIlroy is trying to complete the career Grand Slam while Jordan Spieth is looking for Masters redemption at Augusta National. But which of the lesser-known players should fancy their chances?
1. Jon Rahm
It is enshrined in Masters folklore that no Augusta rookie has won since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. But Rahm, the 22-year-old Spaniard who lost out to Dustin Johnson in last month’s World Matchplay final last month, has the talent to change that.
2. Justin Thomas
Surely a maiden major title awaits Thomas, already a triple winner on tour this season. The one doubt is over his temperament: during his final-round 72 at the recent World Golf Championship in Mexico, he was far too prone to tantrums.
3. Tyrrell Hatton
From relative obscurity, the Englishman has risen at rapid pace to become the world No 15. His scoring average this year is second only to Rickie Fowler’s and he has a level of putting mastery that could prove a match for Augusta’s glassy greens.
4. Adam Hadwin
The Canadian shot to prominence by winning this season’s Valspar Championship in Tampa, against players of the calibre of Henrik Stenson and Charl Schwartzel, and is known for his impressive composure over pressure putts.
5. Hideki Matsuyama
At 25, Matsuyama represents Japan’s best hope of finding its first major champion. Few besides Dustin Johnson can rival his form of late, which brought five victories in two months at the end of his last year. His putting can occasionally be suspect.
6. Marc Leishman
While Leishman is best known for his involvement in the 2015 Open play-off at St Andrews, he has enjoyed a resurgence over the winter and beat Rory McIlroy in Orlando to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
7. Tommy Fleetwood
It is a sign of golf’s capricious fortunes that Fleetwood, on his first visit to Augusta, is being given better odds than Danny Willett, the defending champion. The Southport player, who won in Abu Dhabi this year and came second in Mexico, will relish his prospects.
8. Francesco Molinari
A wonderfully fluid golfer when his game is firing, the Italian appears to be peaking at the right time. After a couple of seasons in the boondocks, Molinari has secured three top-10s in some of the best PGA Tour fields in 2017, and has rediscovered his consummate iron play.
9. Byeong Hun-An
While this Korean prodigy has only won once on tour, it happened to come at the BMW PGA, the flagship European event. He can still be errant off the tee, but waywardness is not always a problem at Augusta, where the rough is more forgiving than most.
10. Angel Cabrera
It is mystifying why the giant Argentinian – nicknamed ‘El Pato’ (‘The Duck’) for his flat-footedness – is so often overlooked, given he won the Green Jacket in 2009 and lost out in a play-off to Adam Scott four years later.