As The Masters moves closer to getting underway, there are generally a few names that separate themselves from the rest of the pack with respect to the feasibility of taking home a green jacket. Often times, the winner of an event of this magnitude is someone that managed to fly under the radar. I’ve tried to determine the three sleepers with a chance to pull off a victory at Augusta National this year.
Martin Laird is probably still riding the high from just getting into The Masters. He took advantage of the last possible chance to qualify by winning the Valero Texas Open last week. The track sets up well for his preferred right-to-left ball flight. His best finish here was a T20 in his debut in 2011. Laird will be looking to continue the momentum from his nine under par final round in Texas last week. He’s 17th in total driving, 36th in greens in regulation and but 139th in strokes gained – putting. He’s going to need to get the short stick going if he wants to have a chance this week.
Even though Rickie Fowler is one of the bigger names on the PGA Tour, he fits the criteria of a sleeper pick because he’s not getting much consideration as a serious contender this week. That could be a mistake. He was in seventh place at the midway point of his Masters debut in 2011 before eventually falling off and finishing T38. Shooting 76-74 in your first weekend at Augusta is understandable, so he gets a pass there. He’s coming off of a tie for third at his last start, which came at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Fowler is currently eighth on Tour in scrambling and in inside of the top 25 in both scoring average and strokes gained – putting.
Before this week, Matteo Manassero was the youngest golfer to ever play The Masters when he made his debut in 2010 at 16 years old. He was also the low amateur that year. This is his first trip back to Augusta since then. He’s still a teenager but has been playing with impressive consistency lately, having made the cut in 13 consecutive starts worldwide. He’s not very long, which could be a problem. Manassero is hoping that his scrambling ability can negate his lack of length.