|The 2012 Masters tees off on Thursday. (John Trainor)|
But here’s a Masters fact: four of the last five winners have been first-timers. They are Zach Johnson (2007), Trevor Immelman (2008), Angel Cabrera (2009) and Charl Schwartzel (2011).
While the 76th Masters is shaping up as a potential Tiger-Rory showdown—with Mr. Mickelson lurking (can we wish for another Tiger-Phil pairing on the weekend ... please, please, golf gods?)—the small field is stacked with players who could steal the moment and visit Butler Cabin on Sunday evening.
Some of them might feel like comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who couldn’t get any respect.
“I think everybody in this room would have to be naïve to think it’s a two-horse race, wouldn’t they?” said Lee Westwood during his Tuesday media gathering at Augusta.
Westwood came excruciatingly close in 2010, finishing second to Mickelson.
“Well, I always felt like I could do it here,” Lee said. “I always felt like the golf course suits my game.”
There’s also World No. 1 Luke Donald. Despite being the top-ranked golfer coming into Masters week, Donald, who finished T4 last year, might feel like an invisible man.
“Obviously Tiger is always the guy that pushes the needle the most, and obviously Rory gets a lot of attention now,” said short-game wizard Donald. “But for me, that’s probably a good thing. I can kind of go about my business and just get on with things.”
There are plenty of other players who can contend if they “get on with things” and handle the final-round pressure like last year’s young guns. Keep an eye on Hunter Mahan, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas, Justin Rose and Kyle Stanley, among others.
It may be no exaggeration to say anyone can win this thing. Well, Larry Mize can’t. But that’s only because Greg Norman isn’t in the field.