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Graham DeLaet (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic)

Graham DeLaet

(David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic)

MASTERS

Six first timers at the Masters Add to ...

When Billy Horschel won the Zurich Classic two weeks after the Masters last year he became first on the list of players who earned their first trip to Augusta National. Come Thursday, a record 24 first timers - including six amateurs - will make their debut at the Masters. Only three players have won on their maiden voyage around Augusta National: Horton Smith in 1934, Gene Sarazen the following year and Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. With nearly a quarter of this year's field playing for the first time, the odds have never been better. Here's a look at six Masters rookies who may break the 35 year drought.

 

Associated Press

GRAHAM DELAET

He qualified for his first Masters as a result of making the FedEx Cup Tour Championship and by being ranked among the top 50 players in the world at the end of last year. Excluding the amateurs in the field, the Weyburn, Sask. native is one of only five players to have qualified without winning a PGA Tour event. With four international victories under his belt, three on the Canadian Tour, DeLaet has been poised to pick up the torch from 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir. So far, he has a pair of second place results in 2014 and five
top-10 finishes in 10 events.
Associated Press

JORDAN SPIETH

Qualified for his first Masters after winning the John Deere Classic last season. Has already played in a Presidents Cup and he finished No. 7 in the FedEx Cup. He has a second place result and four top 10 finishes in 11 events so far this year and is among the top 15 players in the world ranking. To put all of this in perspective, he was born a year after Fred Couples won the Masters in 1992. While he has barely made a peep in the two majors he has played, he has been in the mix just about every tournament he has played this year. His patience will be tested at Augusta National.
Associated Press

JIMMY WALKER

Along with Patrick Reed, he's a three-time winner on the PGA Tour this year. Injuries kept Walker from arriving sooner than he did, though there is not a lot of weakness in his game. He’s long and a very good putter. Consider him one of the favourites from this strong rookie
class to make a good first impression.
Associated Press

VICTOR DUBUISSON

Of all the Masters rookies among the top 50 in the world, he is the most mysterious. A European Tour regular, he won in Turkey last year against a strong field that included Tiger Woods. And he is famous for the two shots he hit out of the desert during the final of the Match Play Championship. Uncle Hervé Dubuisson is considered one of France’s greatest basketball players - like the Kobe Bryant of France. His earliest golf memory is at the age of 7 watching Tiger Woods dominant performance at 1997 Masters and deciding at that moment he wanted to be a professional golfer. He is plenty long. He makes clean contact. He putts well enough. This could be a big debut or a short week, and probably nothing in between.
Associated Press

PATRICK REED

He may be a first timer but Reed can lay claim to having already won at Augusta National - twice. Those would be NCAA titles he won while playing at Augusta State. After winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship for his third win in seven months, he rankled some with his
comments that he felt he belongs among the top five players in the world despite never playing in a major championship. Since 1990, only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia had three PGA Tour wins before turning 24. Lost in the hutzpah is that his game is capable of being top 5 in the world.
Associated Press

HARRIS ENGLISH

When compliments start coming from other players - Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell - it’s worth noting. English has two Tour wins in a span of 14 starts and six other top 10 results in 13 starts. He has yet to miss a cut this year. He has a full arsenal of shots, starting with his power off the tee. While he is among a record 24 players playing the Masters for the first time, he is no stranger to Augusta National having played the course every year while attending collage at the University of Georgia. Got his first Masters week off to an ideal start on Sunday, scoring a hole-in-one on the 12th hole from 142 yards out.

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