McDowell says fearless rookies will be a Masters threat

Reuters| Updated: Apr 07, 2014, 19:19 PM IST

Newyork: Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell believes a rookie could burst from the pack and win this week`s Masters for the first time since Fuzzy Zoeller`s shock victory on his Augusta debut in 1979.

With Tiger Woods absent injured, the tournament is expected to be one of the most open for years and Northern Ireland`s McDowell would not be surprised to see some of the game`s lesser lights stealing the limelight.

"Some of the rookies today have a great chance," McDowell said in his BBC column.

"I played with Harris English a few weeks ago at Bay Hill. There`s a kid making his Augusta debut and if he was on the leader board 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."

First-timer Zoeller famously won the 1979 Masters but it has not happened since at a tournament which usually ends with a big-name champion.

"The belief level globally now for a young professional is so much better than it used to be," McDowell said.

"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."