|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Rookies ready to blaze path through Augusta

  • AUGUSTA, Ga. — Patrick Reed already has proclaimed himself as one of the five best golfers in the world.
    • email print
  • AUGUSTA, Ga. — Patrick Reed already has proclaimed himself as one of the five best golfers in the world.
    Jimmy Walker, Harris English and Jordan Spieth all appear poised to make a run at the 2014 American Ryder Cup team.
    The biggest challenge facing those four and 20 other first-time Masters entrants is history. No golfer has won in his Masters debut since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
    Then again, the Masters hasn't seen a class of rookies this accomplished, maybe ever.
    Reed, who won two NCAA championships at Augusta State, and Walker both have three wins on the PGA Tour. This is just the second time in 44 years that a player arrived at the Masters for the first time with three wins on tour.
    "So 24 first-timers. Definitely shows that whoever is playing their best golf is going to win," Reed said. "Doesn't matter if you've played here once or if you've played here 50 times. When it comes down to it, it's just going to be one of those things that whoever is playing the best is going to walk away with the trophy."
    Walker, Reed and English, a former standout at Georgia, highlight the class; English has two wins since June.
    But none of those three are as highly ranked as Spieth, a 20-year-old prodigy and former Texas standout who is ranked 13th. Spieth won the 2013 John Deere Classic and was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year last year. He was a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup and finished the season ranked 10th on the PGA Tour money list.
    "I think that because of inspiration that guys like Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson) have done, we have watched them win this tournament for numbers of years and have made us want to come here and win this golf tournament," Spieth said.
    Victor Dubuisson is the next Masters rookie behind Spieth in the world rankings. The 23-year-old Frenchman is ranked No. 21 but has yet to make a name for himself in America. He picked up his first European Tour win — the 2013 Turkish Airlines Open — and made his biggest impact in the United States when he made a run through the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February. He beat Kevin Streelman, Peter Hanson, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els before losing to Jason Day in the championship match.
    The three most recent winners on the PGA Tour — Matt Every, Steven Bowditch and Matt Jones — earned their way into the Masters via those victories. PGA Tour winners receive automatic invitations.
    Of the 18 Masters rookies who are pros — six first-timers are amateurs — 15 already have won an event on the PGA Tour or the European PGA Tour. The three who haven't won include Brendan de Jonge, a seven-year tour pro with 22 top-10 finishes, Graham DeLaet, a Presidents Cup pick who had seven top 10s in 2013, and former Georgia Tech standout Roberto Castro.
    Even the amateurs in the field are highly touted.
    The No. 2 amateur in the world — Matthew Fitzpatrick — won the U.S. Amateur to make the field. Chang-woo Lee, Garrick Porteous, Jordan Niebrugge and Oliver Goss are all ranked in the top 13 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
    "My aim is to make the cut," Fitzpatrick said. "That's the aim at the start of the year for me is to make the cut in the majors."
Reader Reaction

      calendar