2020 Masters picks, odds: Five first-timers who can win the green jacket at Augusta National

Famously (or infamously), first-time participants at the Masters have not thrown on a green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller did so in 1979. Many have tried, but not even Tiger Woods succeeded (he won in his third attempt after two misses as an amateur). 

There are many ways in which this has to be a perfect storm of events. You need to be talented enough that you’re probably playing the Masters at a young age but not so talented (or lucky) that you get into it as an amateur. Winning the Masters as an amateur is more or less an impossibility in golf’s current landscape.

Interestingly, there are actually a number of golfers who — amid of myriad circumstances — align nicely with how you would envision a first-time participant pulling off what only Zoeller (1979), Horton Smith (1934) and Gene Sarazen (1935) have done over the last 85 years. Let’s look at them in order of how likely they are to win the Masters.

Official World Golf Ranking | Odds via William Hill Sportsbook

1. Collin Morikawa (No. 4 | 25-1): The PGA Championship winner is the rare golfer who has won a major before competing in his first Masters. Because Morikawa never qualified as an amateur and because he had not yet turned pro last April and also because COVID-19 bumped this year’s Masters to November, he’s less a rookie turning up to his first trek around Augusta National and more a seasoned vet who is — checks notes — the No. 4 golfer in the world. Can Morikawa win two of the three majors in 2020? He can. He’s that good. But this one will be even tougher than that PGA Championship. Morikawa’s putter is his weak spot, and Augusta National’s greens are a tad more difficult to navigate than that of Harding Park.

2. Matthew Wolff (No. 14 | 33-1): He could just as easily be in Morikawa’s position coming into his first Masters with a major under his belt. Hell, he could have two majors under his belt. Wolff could not make a putt on Sunday afternoon at the PGA and then got housed by a red-hot Bryson DeChambeau at the U.S. Open. He finished in the top five at both majors, and of all the golfers on this list, he will benefit most by length at Augusta National. 

3. Sungjae Im (No. 23 | 66-1): He’s ranked ahead of Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson going into his first Masters. And while he would have been considered much more of a threat in the spring when he was winning and contending seemingly every week, he still has a much higher chance of winning than your traditional first-time Masters contender.

4. Scottie Scheffler (No. 30 | 6-1): Heading into the U.S. Open, he was probably one of the five or six hottest golfers in the world. Then he tested positive for COVID-19. Still, he’s again among those who’s had much more experience than he otherwise would have because of a delayed Masters date. He’s still looking for win No. 1 on the PGA Tour so this would be an extremely rare occurrence, but it’s certainly in play with how well he strikes the golf ball (Data Golf has him top 12 in the world from tee to green over the last three months).

5. Cameron Champ (No. 71 | 9-1): He’s probably the least likely of the bunch, but still he competed at the PGA Championship and has the length to roll at Augusta National. Champ has played over 50 PGA Tour events and already has two wins and four appearances at majors. He’s emblematic of this list, which, for a variety of reasons has far more experience, success and talent than a normal crop of first-timer golfers at the Masters. Whether that results in a win or even in contending for a win remains to be seen, but it certainly provides some intrigue heading into the last major of the year.


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