The Masters: McDowell backs rookie winnerApril, 2014
Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell believes a rookie could win the Masters for the first time since Fuzzy Zoeller’s triumph in 1979.
The Northern Irishman believes the current young crop of golfers are capable of tackling Augusta National with no fear and have the necessary talent.
McDowell has been particularly impressed with American Harris English but the likes of Victor Dubuisson, Joost Luiten and Stephen Gallacher have also showed brilliant form at times during the past 12 months.
“Some of the rookies today have a great chance” McDowell said in his BBC Sport column.
“I played with Harris English a few weeks ago at Bay Hill. There’s a kid making his Augusta debut and if the 24-year-old American was on the leaderboard come the weekend I would not be shocked.
“He’s long, hits his irons very high, very cool, and has a good short game and putter.
“You know he’s got the tools to win around Augusta. These young players are just so well equipped nowadays.
“They are better athletes and they’re fearless. They’re growing up in an era where they’ve watched Tiger Woods do things with a golf ball that seemed impossible.
“The belief level globally now for a young professional is so much better than it used to be.
It could be an amazing week for the game, with one of the new breed making a name for himself and coming out of the shadow “The Zoeller-type first-time, rookie champion could happen in any of the majors now – this one included.
“It could be an amazing week for the game, with one of the new breed making a name for himself and coming out of the shadow of Tiger.
“He has taken the game to new heights but with him absent there’s a real chance for someone else to take the headlines.”
However reigning US Open Champion Justin Rose offered a warning to those playing at Augusta National for the first time.
“I think the general rule is that if you make the cut the first time at Augusta, then that’s a successful performance,” he said.
“Certainly that’s how it was framed in my mind in 2003.
“Just playing at Augusta is an amazing experience for any first-timer. It’s an amazing experience going for the 10th time, to be honest with you.
“It’s one of the few tournaments where you play practice rounds even though you don’t really need to.
“You already know the course and your strategy, but you can’t resist getting out there on that golf course.”
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