Masters 2012: Early-Round Sleepers Who Will Surge on Moving Day

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Phil Mickelson of the United States hits a shot on the first hole during the second round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

With Friday's action coming to a close and many big-name contenders atop the leaderboards, many sleepers are still in position to make a surge toward the final pairing on Saturday's "Moving Day." 

Like we've come to expect, the leaderboards are filled with top players like Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, but also feature less-known players such as Henrik Stenson and Jason Dufner.

In a jam-packed leaderboard at the 2012 Masters, let's take a look at some players currently out of the mix that will surge on Saturday toward contention for the green jacket.

Phil Mickelson

It's hard to classify whether or not Mickelson has been a sleeper at this point with his following and a strong finish Friday, but he was close to being an afterthought in the field after a 2-over 74 on Thursday.

Mickelson has birdied the 18th hole in both of his first two rounds, despite there being nearly more bogeys than pars on the final hole so far. His lengthy birdie putt to close out Friday is going to give him the momentum needed to make a big run on Saturday.

With Tiger Woods struggling to get back into contention, Mickelson could become the fan favorite if Woods falters down the stretch in this year's pursuit of the green jacket. 

As the course's conditions potentially become worse throughout the weekend, Mickelson should be able to use his experience on the course as an advantage and become a real contender to win his fourth Masters in the last eight years. 

Zach Johnson

Johnson had a strong 2-under performance Thursday, but inconsistency in the form of double bogeys doomed his Friday round. He fell back to even-par heading into Saturday.

Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, will be able to benefit from increasingly windy conditions if the weather cooperates with his style of play. These same conditions were a big part in helping Johnson run away from the field in his Masters victory just five years ago.

He hasn't made much noise since that win, and it's only a matter of time until his flashbacks from 2007 glory translate to his play. 

Matt Kuchar

Currently the No. 18 golfer in the world, Matt Kuchar has stayed within striking distance in the first two rounds of Augusta National this weekend and is poised to break out on Moving Day.

He stayed in it Thursday with a 1-under 71 and he has not bogeyed since the fourth hole in his opening round. Kuchar looks to take an even-par 72 Friday into the clubhouse. 

As we've seen in years past at Augusta, some early-round surprises tend to falter on Saturday as the elite players make their way toward the top of the standings. Despite not being very well-known, Kuchar has been as high as No. 6 in the rankings and boasts elite-level talent to make a late-round run.