Masters 2012: 5 Outsiders to Follow

Ewan McQueen@@ewanfootballContributor IApril 3, 2012

Masters 2012: 5 Outsiders to Follow

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    In two days' time, the world's best golfers will tee off at Augusta National Golf Club in the first golfing major of the season, the Masters.

    Running since 1934, the Masters continues to grow in popularity every year, and the 2012 event promises to be a classic.

    With the buildup hitting a fever pitch, golf fans are predicting who will walk away with the Green Jacket come Sunday. Names such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald continue to be the favorites for collecting the main prize come Sunday evening in Georgia.

    However, I want to take a look at five possible golfers who have the potential to spring a surprise upon the golfing world as they look to take the jacket off of last year's winner, Charl Schwartzel.

Jason Day: The Hot, Young Australian

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    One of the hottest talents to emerge in the world of golf in 2011 was the Australian Jason Day. He finished second in two majors, the Masters and the U.S. Open in a sensational season.

    You might find it odd for someone who finished runner-up last year at Augusta to be considered an outsider, but that's exactly what Day will be.

    He isn't being mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, but this is a man that finished above all of them last year.

    He's blessed with great confidence and a sparkling touch around the greens, something that is so vital at Augusta.

    Day might be slow around the course, but don't be surprised to see him in contention come Sunday.

K.J. Choi: The Experienced Korean

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    Arguably the greatest Asian golfer ever, K.J. Choi will be lining up in his 10th successive Masters come Thursday.

    His record at the Masters is inconsistent to say the least, but in the last two years, he has finished in the Top 10 on both occasions, finishing in ties for fourth and eight, respectively.

    He is a machine off the tee and won't be fazed by the length of the Augusta National for one second.

    His mental ability is second to none, and he is desperate to finally win a major after years of trying.

    The former power lifter could make history on Sunday, becoming the first Asian to win the Masters.

Keegan Bradley: The First-Timer

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    Keegan Bradley may be about to challenge Augusta National for the first time, but that is no reason to rule him out.

    It is true that since 1935, there has only been one debutant winner of the Masters, that being Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

    However, Bradley, like other first-timers, will be brimming with confidence and will be keen to put on a good showing.

    His form coming in is very solid as well, with Top 25 finishes in all of his finishes this year, including consecutive Top 10 finishes in his last two starts.

    Bradley is certainly worth an each-way bet, and of course, he knows how to cross the finish line in a major championship.

Padraig Harrington: The Major Winner on the Hunt Again

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    Irishman Padraig Harrington comes into the Masters totally devoid of confidence. Why on earth, then, am I tipping him to do well?

    Well, Harrington might be past his best, but he is still a three-time major winner. Write him off at your peril.

    In 12 Masters appearances, he has three Top 10 finishes, although he has missed the cut on his last two visits.

    Harrington's ability around the greens is still of a superb standard, and I would put him near the top on the list of golfers I would trust to hole a six-foot putt to win a major.

    The odds are stacked against him, but Harrington is someone who could well be the master of surprise this week in Georgia.

Angel Cabrera: Been There, Got the Green Jacket

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    Angel Cabrera is currently sitting at 100/1 in the betting odds, which in my eyes, is far too high.

    It's only three years since the Argentinian won at Augusta, edging out Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry in a three-man playoff.

    He made a solid defense of his title the next year, finishing in the Top 20 before coming in seventh last year.

    The 42-year-old also has three other top finishes at Augusta National and loves the course.

    His length hasn't lost much of its distance even in his 40s, and his mental attitude is a match for everyone.

    In 2009, Cabrera was helped into his green jacket by South African Trevor Immelman, winner in 2008.

    Perhaps 2011's South African winner Charl Schwartzel will have to help Cabrera into a new green jacket come Sunday.