5 Golfers Who Can End Wait for Major Glory at Augusta
Tiger Woods has hit his form at the perfect time as he aims to secure his fifth Masters win in a couple of weeks.
His win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday and a subsequent return to the number one spot in the World Rankings have been enough for bookmakers to expect him to finish atop the leaderboard in the opening major of the year.
Woods odds to win his 15th major are just plus-350 (7/2), giving him an 18 percent chance to be on top when the final round concludes on April 14 at Augusta National.
However, a strong field will assemble in Georgia, with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson among the favorites to add to their trophy cases. There is also the usual multitude of top players who will be looking to make a name for themselves on golf's biggest stage.
Here are five PGA challengers ready to make their presence felt on the Augusta leaderboard as they look to end their wait for glory in a major.
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Arguably one of the most improved players last season; Brandt Snedeker stormed to the 2012 FedEx Cup title and gained a prize of $10 million in winning the Tour Championship.
It was his consistency throughout 2012 that saw him climb the rankings to his current position of fifth.
Having posted two superb scores in the first two rounds of the Open Championship last July in Muirfield, Snedeker dropped off in the closing stages, but has shown a real ability to make birdies. If he can hold his nerves while repeating the same sort of heroics he showed in tying for third in the 2008 Masters, then he could well be a major challenger to the field leaders.
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Matt Kuchar kicked off his 2013 campaign with a sublime victory over Hunter Mahan in the final of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Mariana, Ariz.
The consistent American will attempt to notch his first major victory at Augusta and a repeat of his form in Arizona will see him become a huge challenger in the Masters.
Although he had two top-10 finishes in the majors last year (Masters and Open Championship), it was at Augusta that Kuchar posted his best effort, trying for tied two shots behind Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson. The Florida native is hoping that this will be the year to improve again and could be a genuine sleeper pick at odds of plus-3300 (33/1).
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Adam Scott will often be remembered for his capitulation in the 2012 Open Championship as he let a comfortable four-shot lead slip away with four holes to play in the final round to finish second behind Ernie Els
However, his partnership with caddie Steve Williams has proven to be the catalyst for some stronger displays from the Australian. If he can hold it together for the full four days at the Masters, he could end his wait for a major in 2013.
Having tied for second in the 2011 Masters, Scott showed he can perform admirably at Augusta and wasn’t disgraced in finishing eighth at last year’s event. He cannot be discounted at this year's event.
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A total of 39 professional titles emphasizes Lee Westwood’s ability, but the Englishman is still waiting for that elusive first major success.
He would enjoy nothing more than putting on the green jacket on the evening of April 14.
Placed in the top three of all four majors during his career, it is understandable why Westwood has been often been labelled as "one of best golfers without a major win". His best finish in the Masters came in 2010 when he finished second.
There's no question that Westwood's consistency is conducive to the course and he is once again a likely candidate to be in the Masters' running come the final round.
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Like Westwood, Justin Rose is another English player who has notched a plethora of top-10 finishes in major championships, but failed to go that extra step and lift one of the coveted crowns.
His fifth-place tie in 2007 highlights his abilities at Augusta and if everything comes up right for the 32-year-old, he could feature prominently at this year's event.
Westwood showed in being the catalyst for Europe’s sensational Ryder Cup victory that he excels on the biggest stage. If he can get his putter working over the whole four days, then he could well be looking to challenge the top of the leaderboard.
Rose finished second to Tiger Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to add to his two other top-10 finishes from four events played this year and heads to the Masters in fine form.