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Leonard: 4 who could win first major at Masters
0409MastersDay
Jason Day, of Australia's son Dash holds up a ball after putting on the ninth hole during the Par 3 contest at the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, April 8, 2015, in Augusta, Ga. - photo by Chris Carlson

Masters first round

When: 3 p.m. Thursday

Where: Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta

TV: ESPN

It’s inevitable. You’ll hear plenty about Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods this week.

McIlroy is aiming for his first Masters win and the career Grand Slam, which would give him five major victories overall. Woods is playing for the first time since February, while going for his fifth Masters victory and 15th major.

While those two have earned the right to be in the spotlight, I want to take a few minutes to bring your attention to some other top-notch golfers who could secure their first triumph in a major this week at Augusta National. Here are four who fit the bill:

Jason Day

World ranking: 5

Why he could wear green jacket: Day has finished in the top five in six out of his past 11 tournaments, including a February victory at the Farmers Insurance Open.

The Australian has also recorded five top-five finishes at majors since 2011, including a tie for second at the 2011 Masters and a tie for third at the 2013 Masters.

Day has regularly put himself in contention at majors and been consistently high in the world ranking. His breakthrough seems more a matter of when than if.


Dustin Johnson

World ranking: 7

Why he could wear green jacket: Since a personal leave of absence late last year, Johnson has jumped right back into action with feast-or-famine results. In addition to a Cadillac Championship win (a World Golf Championship) in March, Johnson has a tie for second, a tie for fourth, a tie for sixth and two missed cuts.

Even though he missed the Masters cut a year ago, Johnson tied for fourth in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.


Rickie Fowler

World ranking: 13

Why he could wear green jacket: Fowler would have gained much more notoriety for his quartet of top-five major finishes in 2014 if not for the fact that McIlroy won two majors.

Fowler tied for the runner-up spot at both the U.S. Open and British Open in 2014. He isn’t the most consistent golfer, but if he’s on his game, he’s talented enough to add some green to his wardrobe.


Brooks Koepka

World ranking: 19

Why he could wear green jacket: Koepka jumped onto the radar with his tie for fourth at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. He finished tied for 15th in August at the PGA Championship.

Koepka then won the Turkish Airlines Open in November and the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.

It would be quite a story for Koepka to prevail in his Masters debut.

 

Clark Leonard: cleonard@gainesvilletimes.com; 770-718-3418; twitter.com/SportTimesClark

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