The 2017 Masters offers golf enthusiasts a crowded field, with many returning champions, fan-favourites and ascending stars to watch for the on the day. While many veteran and recent followers of the sport are tipping world number one Dustin Johnson to win following his quiet, craftsman-like win at last year’s US Open by three strokes and his victory at WGC-Mexico Championship sealing his place in history as the first player to win all four WGC crowns, there are players who have never stood on the podium at a major who deserve your attention in Augusta. Read on to learn a bit about some we’ve got our eye on.
One of many major hopefuls flying into Georgia in the best shape of their career, Matsuyama has gained a lot of attention in recent months thanks to some sterling performances at WGC-HSBC in China last October and a successful title defence at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in March, winning it for the second time in as many years, joining a very small and illustrious circle including Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller. Entering the championship newly elevated to the world number four ranking, Matsuyama is one to watch.
An elder statesman of the game, Westwood at 43 hopes to join the ranks of some of the game’s senior figures including Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player who have clinched a majors win over the age of 40. Finishing joint runner-up at last year’s Masters with Jordan Spieth – a ferociously popular and exceptionally talented golfer more than two decades younger than him – the Englishman hopes to finally convert his 74th major championship appearance into a win. While currently ranked at world number 54, Westwood remains a significant threat.
Amongst the most exciting golfers to emerge in recent years, Spaniard Jon Rahm looks set to impress at his first ever US Masters event. Turning pro less than a year ago in time for the 2016 Quicken Loans National in June, he walks into Augusta already a decorated golfer, winning the Ben Hogan award twice in the last two years and the 2015 Mark H. McCormack Medal. A magnificent long-distance hitter, Rahm could easily do some damage on some of Augusta’s longer holes, which could see him out of Amen Corner looking very strong.
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