With such an exclusive field at The Masters, a number of excellent players are going into the tournament with much higher odds than they would get at most events. The big risk-taking types would be especially well-served giving an extra look to the following 10 players, our sleepers for the week:
1. PATRICK CANTLAY
Once among the most hyped prospects in golf, Cantlay had played Augusta just once, finishing as the low amateur in 2012. Went AWOL for several years due to injury and personal tragedy, but has re-established himself as a legitimate threat as a professional over the past two seasons – not missing a cut in 21 starts in that span, with six top-10s and a victory in November’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. A major championship talent who carries himself like a professional, Cantlay feels destined to win a green jacket someday.
Odds: 80-1 | World Rank: 35
2. KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT
Hands-down Thailand’s best professional golfer, Aphibarnrat has been playing everywhere, and playing well with three worldwide victories since December. His game is starting to translate better to the PGA Tour as well, as the 28-year-old has tallied T5 finishes at the last two WGC events, the Mexico Championship and the Dell Technologies Match Play. Has only played The Masters once, posting an impressive T15 in 2016, and that was in spite of a third-round 77. His putting has been a strength all season, and he led the WGC-Mexico field in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
Odds: 100-1 | World Rank: 30
3. XANDER SCHAUFFELE
Augusta typically is not forgiving to first-timers, but the reigning PGA Tour rookie of the year showed he could compete against any field when he won both the Greenbrier Classic and the Tour Championship last year. Busting onto the national scene when he was a surprise contender at last year’s U.S. Open, Schauffele is the epitome of a shot-maker and is arriving in good form, finishing in the top 20 of his last four events.
Odds: 80-1 | World Rank: 26
4. PAT PEREZ
It is not often that a player ranked inside the world top 25 can be classified as a “sleeper”, but strangely enough, Perez is coming into The Masters with odds in the triple-digits. He has been in a bit of a slump since finishing T4 at the 2018-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions, but he has a win in each of his past two seasons. And in 2018, he ranks 6th in driving accuracy, 6th in greens in regulation, and 5th in birdie average. His 2017 Masters start was his first in eight years, and he looked good, finishing a respectable T18 and playing both weekend rounds under par.
Odds: 125-1 | World Rank: 19
5. SI WOO KIM
The 22-year-old from South Korea has one of the strangest games on Tour. He is bad most weeks, often very bad, but he has shown a penchant for the big stage, winning last year’s PLAYERS Championship, his second career victory in just two seasons as a professional, in addition to contending at last year’s U.S. Open. In his last action, Kim was tremendous at the WGC-Match Play, emerging from group play as the lowest ranked member of his pool which included Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, and Webb Simpson. Had he not been unfortunate to draw Justin Thomas in the round of 16, he could have gone even further.
Odds: 250-1 | World Rank: 51
6. THOMAS PIETERS
The young Belgian shone brightly for the European squad at the 2016 Ryder Cup, but has been inconsistent on both the PGA and European Tours since. Pieters has the length to flourish in Augusta, and made the most of his Masters debut last year, posting rounds of 68 on Friday and Sunday to finish T4. He has been a mild disappointment that past two years, but has a clear affinity for the big stage, and The Masters is the biggest stage there is.
Odds: 66-1 | World Rank: 46
7. KYLE STANLEY
The reigning Quicken Loans Champion has played The Masters just once, missing the cut in 2012, but has been re-born since that victory at TPC Potomac, and is in exceptional form as of late, with three consecutive top 25s in tournaments with very strong fields. Most recently, Stanley flourished at the WGC-Match Play, knocking a red-hot Paul Casey out in a sudden-death playoff to reach the round of 16, where he ousted Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, before losing a close quarterfinal match to Justin Thomas. Ranking 3rd on Tour in driving accuracy and 6th in greens in regulation, Stanley does not often get himself into trouble, which makes him a sneaky-good bet at Augusta.
Odds: 200-1 | World Rank: 44
8. JIMMY WALKER
Coming off a dismal 2017 season that was imputed mostly to struggles arising from Lyme disease, the 2016 PGA Champion Walker seems to finally be coming back around, making five of his last six cuts, including a T8 at Pebble Beach. Even in the lethargic condition he was last season, Walker still managed a respectable T18 finish at Augusta, and has made the tournament cut in each of the past four years, with a best result of T8 in 2014. If he posts decent rounds on Thursday and Friday, do not be shocked if Walker hangs around longer than expected. He knows how to win on the big stages.
Odds: 150-1 | World Rank: 97
9. BERNHARD LANGER
A two-time Masters Champion, it is not often that a 60-year-old is proffered as a legitimate major champion threat, but most 60 year olds are not Bernhard Langer. The German legend has 36 wins on the Champions Tour, and has finished first or second on the Champions Tour money list over the past eight seasons, failing to reach that milestone only during an injury-shortened 2011 season. Yes, the competition there is not what it is on the PGA Tour, but as recently as 2014, Langer has a T8 Masters finish. He will not top the charts in driving distance this week, but he is still an elite putter, and that makes him a threat anywhere.
Odds: 500-1 | World Rank: 1929
10. JOAQUIN NIEMANN
It seems unlikely that a 19-year-old amateur would make significant noise at The Masters, but Joaquin Niemann is not your average amateur. The Chilean star has an enormous lead on his competition atop the World Amateur Golf Rankings, a position he has held for the past 45 weeks. Do not be surprised if it takes him amazingly little time to look like he has a place among the professionals.
Odds: 500-1 | World Rank: 1524