10 sleepers to watch at Augusta National

Rickie Fowler walks along a fairway during a practice round prior to the start of the 2013 Masters.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – It’s easy to identify the favorite for this year’s Masters. We like to go deep here at Golfweek.com, though.

Therefore we give you this list of 10 “sleepers” to consider.

Here are the criteria: a player must be ranked outside the top 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking and never have finished in the top 10 at Augusta National to appear on this list. Enjoy:

• • •

1. Bill Haas

Official World Golf Ranking: 29

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 37

Haas has made the cut in all three starts here, though he has finished no better than 26th. He’s having a steady season in 2013, having finished in the top 10 in five of nine starts, including in his past two events.

• • •

2. Rickie Fowler

Official World Golf Ranking: 28

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 26

Hard to call him a sleeper because of the attention he attracts, but he fits the criteria. Fowler, No. 28 in the Official World Golf Ranking, has made the cut in both of his Masters appearances, finishing 38th and 27th. He was in seventh halfway through his debut in 2011 while playing alongside the young-guns grouping of Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. Fowler is coming off a third-place finish in his last start, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

• • •

3. Henrik Stenson

Official World Golf Ranking: 41

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 41

Stenson, former winner of the WGC-Accenture Match Play and the Players Championship, is back among the world’s elite after a few lean years. He has finished in the top 10 in his past two starts – a T-8 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and runner-up at the Shell Houston Open. Stenson was in contention at last year’s Masters, sitting in sixth place through 54 holes, before a final-round 81.

• • •

4. Fredrik Jacobson

Official World Golf Ranking: 46

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 24

Jacobson has finished in the top 20 in two of his three Masters starts. His strong short game is well-suited for Augusta National’s challenging putting surfaces. Jacobson has finished in the top 25 in six consecutive PGA Tour starts entering this week.

• • •

5. Scott Piercy

Official World Golf Ranking: 38

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 52

The 34-year-old is making his Masters debut, but his length leaves many people liking his chances at Augusta National. After a nice start to the season – three top-15s in his first four events, including a third-place finish in Phoenix – he has struggled, missing the cut in his past two starts and shooting 21 over par in those four rounds.

• • •

6. Richard Sterne

Official World Golf Ranking: 49

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 80

There has to be a young South African on this list, right? Charl Schwartzel won here in 2011, and Louis Oosthuizen lost a playoff last year. Sterne, 31, is back among the world’s elite after several injury-riddled years. He started this year with a runner-up in Dubai and victory at the European Tour’s Joburg Open. He finished 12th in his last PGA Tour start, at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, before returning home to play two Sunshine Tour events. Sterne finished 25th in his Masters debut in 2008.

• • •

7. Martin Laird

Official World Golf Ranking: 56

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 106

Laird qualified for his third consecutive Masters, barely. He shot a final-round 63 to win the Valero Texas Open and punch his ticket to Augusta National. Augusta National favors a right-to-left ball flight, and Laird relies primarily on a fade, but he has made the cut in his two appearances here, including a T-20 in his debut in 2011. Another Scot, Sandy Lyle, is on the short list of players to win the Masters after winning the previous week.

• • •

8. Matteo Manassero

Official World Golf Ranking: 47

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 34

Manassero’s lack of length may make a title tough to come by, but his consistency is impressive. He’s making his first Masters appearance since finishing T-36 as an amateur in 2010. He has made the cut in 13 consecutive worldwide starts.

• • •

9. Ryan Moore

Official World Golf Ranking: 45

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 28

Moore’s good play at Augusta National started in his amateur days. He played here twice before turning professional and made the cut both times, including a 13th-place finish in 2004. He also has played here twice as a professional, making the cut both times. He has finished no worse than 45th in his four appearances here. Moore won his second PGA Tour title late last year, but he has been a bit erratic this year.

• • •

10. Michael Thompson

Official World Golf Ranking: 44

Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: 226

The Alabama product is making his first appearance at Augusta National since playing as an amateur in 2008. He barely missed the cut after taking a one-stroke penalty when his ball moved on the 15th green in the second round. Thompson earned this year’s invitation with his runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Open. He also won the recent Honda Classic and followed it up with an eighth-place finish at the Cadillac Championship.

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