2014 Masters Tournament

Golfers Under 25 Years Old Most Likely to Win the 2014 Masters

Mike DudurichContributor IMarch 24, 2014

Golfers Under 25 Years Old Most Likely to Win the 2014 Masters

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    Rory MIlroy will be on a mission to make amends for the Masters that got away in 2011.
    Rory MIlroy will be on a mission to make amends for the Masters that got away in 2011.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Considering how there are no real Masters favorites among the very best of golf's elite, why couldn't a player under the age of 25 win the first major of the season?

    It has been done before, you know. Tiger Woods won his first Masters at age 21 in 1997. The late Seve Ballesteros won the Masters in 1980 at the age of 23. Jack Nicklaus was also 23 when he put on a green jacket for the first time.

    None of the biggest names did much in Florida, unless you consider three good rounds by Rory McIlroy at the Honda Classic and three by Adam Scott in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    The most recent winners on the PGA Tour have been Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Patrick Reed, John Senden and Matt Every.

    Notice the lack of mention of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

    Here are five guys under 25 who have a shot at winning the 2014 Masters.

Jordan Spieth

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    Jordan Spieth will make his first trip down Magnolia Lane.
    Jordan Spieth will make his first trip down Magnolia Lane.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    When Jordan Spieth had the kind of year he did in 2013, a year that included a win, three seconds, nine top-10s, $3.8 million in earnings and a spot on the United States Presidents Cup, he established himself as the ringleader of the PGA Tour's next wave of young guns.

    At the ripe old age of 20, much is now expected of him. He's not hit on all cylinders yet in 2014, but his worst finish thus far is a T34.

    He has the perfect mix of power and finesse to play Augusta well.

Harris English

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    Harris English seems ready to take a step up and contend at a major.
    Harris English seems ready to take a step up and contend at a major.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Here's a guy who will no doubt feel a little more pressure than the rest of the field during Masters week.

    Harris English is a native of Valdosta, Ga., and attended the University of Georgia.

    The 24-year-old has two PGA Tour victories, the latest coming in the OHL Classic of Mayakoba.

    Why can he win the Masters? Because he's averaging 300 yards off the tee, the 18th best average on the PGA Tour.

    Why he might struggle in addition to first-timer nerves? While he's driving the ball a long way, those drives don't always find the short grass (103rd in driving accuracy), and his putter has not been the best club in his bag (128th in strokes gained putting).

Patrick Reed

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    Patrick Reed went to college not far from Augusta National.
    Patrick Reed went to college not far from Augusta National.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Patrick Reed has won three times in the last two years on the PGA Tour. Not bad for a 23-year-old who was born in San Antonio, Texas, and led Augusta College to a pair of NCAA Championships.

    The young man has shown plenty of game, plenty of resolve in winning those three events and is super confident in his ability. He showed that when he outlasted an elite in the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship and pronounced himself one of the top five players in the game in an interview with NBC.

    He averages almost 296 yards off the tee, but the best part of his game thus far is his putting. He's 29th in strokes gained putting, and that will be a nice thing to have going for him on Augusta National's famed putting surfaces.

Russell Henley

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    Russell Henley has shown plenty of promise.
    Russell Henley has shown plenty of promise.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Another native of Georgia who competed at the University of Georgia will be making his first appearance in the Masters.

    Russell Henley won in 2013 at the Sony Open, making birdies on his final five holes to do so. He also putted for birdie on every hole in the second round on the way to a second straight 63.

    He also won the Honda Classic earlier this month, taking advantage of a back-nine meltdown by Rory McIlroy to win a four-man playoff on the first hole.

    Henley has proven to be somewhat of a streaky player in the early part of his career, but his win at Honda came out of nowhere. His previous results had been: T51, MC, MC, T52 and MC.

    And that might be why he could win at Augusta. He may find something in the next two weeks and be red hot when Masters week gets here.

     

     

Rory McIlroy

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    Rory McIlroy's putting will have to be very good to win at Augusta.
    Rory McIlroy's putting will have to be very good to win at Augusta.Associated Press

    This will be Rory McIlroy's last chance to win the Masters as a young gun. He'll turn 25 May 4.

    It would be fitting that he win in a couple weeks, considering all that he's been through since he took Augusta National Golf Club by storm in 2011, shooting 65-69-70 in the first three rounds. But then came the fateful snap hook on the 10th tee, which resulted in a final-round 80.

    Since then, he's climbed to the top of the Official World Golf Rankings, changed club manufacturers, fell back down that mountain and gone through a tortuous swing change, and he seems to be ready to become a major player again.

    Other than blowing a Sunday lead at the Honda Classic, McIlroy has posted several quality starts this year.

    Look for him to be big at Augusta.

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