When the spring sun begins to beat down on the hallowed turf of Augusta National in full bloom, the anticipation for the Masters begins to build. The first major championship of the golf season, there is no better place to tee-off than at the iconic Georgia-based course and every player that makes their way up the famous Magnolia Lane will want to get fitted into a prestigious green jacket before departing Augusta.
That is easier said than done, of course. Many good players have ended their careers without gaining access to the exclusive Champions Locker Room in the famous Augusta club house.
That is the beauty of the pristine course, though. You never know what to expect at the start of Masters week and often it’s somebody from left of field being pictured in a green jacket by Sunday.
So, with just a matter of weeks to go before the world’s best start arriving at Augusta, let’s take a look at some of the players who could upset the betting exchange. Read on to find out more!
Xander Schauffele – 20/1
A player for whom a maiden major must just be around the corner, it’s hard to fathom how Xander Schauffele is entering his sixth year on the PGA Tour without getting his hands on one of the four major tournaments. It’s not for the want of trying, the American boasts eight top 10 finishes — five of which came in successive US Opens — but he just hasn’t been able to get over the line.
Winning Olympic gold back in September should give Schauffele the belief to kick on this year, and with T2 and T3 finished at Augusta over the last few years, the 28-year-old has already proved he can deal with the challenging course. At general odds of around 20/1, he could worth an each-way bet to finish in the top six.
Hideki Matsuyama – 25/1
Whether it’s the pressure of hosting the Champions Dinner or the difficult task of trying to re-enact what do you 12 months ago, retaining the Masters is no easy. In fact, only three golfers — Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo — have managed to add a second green jacket to their wardrobe in successive seasons.
Matsuyama will be keen to add his name to that shortlist of greats after becoming the first-ever Japanese native to win the Masters last year though.
The 30-year-old, who was a 40/1 shot prior to last year’s tournament, was the lowest amateur on his first Augusta appearance in 2011 and finished in the top 10 twice before securing a green jacket last year. He’s won two PGA Tour events since, but injuries have hampered the World No.12’s game recently.
Will Zalatoris – 33/1
You may have to go down to 29th in the World Rankings to find Will Zalatoris’ name, but the 25-year-old American has been making waves in the golfing world over the last couple of years. He was caused a stir when he finished second behind Matsuyama on his Masters debut last April and he has refused to go away — later finishing T8 in the PGA Championship.
PGA Tour Rookie of the Year last season, Zalatoris has carried on that fine form in the early stages of this year — finishing in the top 15 four times already and coming extremely close to landing his first PGA title, losing to Luke List in a play-off at the Farmer Insurance Open in San Diego in January. With three top 10 finishes in his last five major outings, he could be up there again at Augusta.