A wide-open field makes it extremely difficult to bet on the 2014 Masters. Fortunately, there are a number of intriguing sleepers that could make it worth your time.
Everybody knows about the favorites heading into Augusta, but few of them are safe options to do well.
Rory McIlroy has performed well this year with three top-10 finishes in five stroke-play events, but he still has not won a tournament since 2012. Phil Mickelson has dominated the Masters with 14 top-10 results since 1995, but he has gotten off to a slow start in 2014 and only finished tied for 54th a year ago at Augusta.
Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar are also quality options to finish near the top of the leaderboard. Here is a breakdown of more of the top golfers:
However, the deep roster of competitors will ensure that there will be plenty of surprises as well. Here is a look at the odds for the favorites as well as some sleepers to keep an eye on this week.
via Vegas Insider
Top Sleepers to Watch
Harris English (45-1)
As difficult as this tournament is for everyone, it is even tougher for those who have never been there before. There is nothing quite like the intimidation of standing next to the best in the world on one of the most iconic courses in history.
However, Harris English has been stepping up to his competition all year long and is ready to compete with the best.
The Georgia native won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and has posted a number of top-10 finishes since then. He also defeated McIlroy at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship before ending in the final 16.
Most impressive has been English's consistency. He currently ranks first on tour with a 73.03 greens in regulation percentage, which goes well with his above-average driving ability and solid putting.
The question is if he can handle the enormity of the situation, something that swing coach Mike Taylor has brought up, via Farrell Evans of ESPN:
Physically, Augusta sets up well for Harris. It's just a matter of him not being in awe of everything. He should prepare for this one like he does for all the other tournaments and not get caught up in the whole hooray of it all. That's going to be difficult, but I think he's mentally prepared for it.
If the 24-year-old golfer can stay within himself, he has a chance of leaving with a green jacket.
Jimmy Walker (60-1)
When thinking of players who have performed well to start this season, it would be a mistake to ignore the player who is currently in first place in the FedEx Cup standings.
Another rookie, Walker has already earned three wins this season and has only missed one cut in 13 events.
According to Helen Ross of PGATour.com, Walker and Patrick Reed will each enter their first Masters with three career wins, something that has not been done since Sam Snead in 1937.
Ross also quotes Walker discussing his recent success, "I'm having a lot of fun. It's just validation for me, a lot of years being out here and working hard. And to see it all kind of pay off, that's what I've been waiting for. ... And (I'm going to) keep working hard (because I) want to keep doing it."
Of course, Walker's impressive performances have garnered the attention of some former champions, according to Golf.com:
Bernhard Langer, Billy Casper and Zach Johnson are among the former winners who believe Walker can win it all. If he continues to play at his current level, there is no reason to doubt him.
Hideki Matsuyama (80-1)
Despite his young age, the 22-year-old Hideki Matsuyama has the composure of a veteran. He has performed extremely well in big events in his young career, and this should help him heading into the weekend.
Last year, the Japanese star competed in three majors and finished tied for 10th at the U.S. Open, tied for sixth at the British Open and tied for 19th at the PGA Championship. Although he did not qualify for the Masters, he made the cut twice as an amateur, proving he is not afraid of the moment.
Matsuyama won four events on the Japanese pro tour since the start of 2013, and he continues to improve both mentally and physically. If he keeps this up, there is no denying that he should contend for a major championship as soon as this year.
With a strong drive and consistent putting on the green, the young star has a chance to do extremely well at Augusta.
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