The Masters: The dark horses who can challenge for this year’s Green Jacket

The favourites don’t always have their own way at Augusta National so the door could be open for someone further down the betting this week

It's easy to look at the front of the betting for this year's Masters and find it difficult to believe that the winner will come from outside the top six in the market.

After all, Augusta National has been a happy hunting ground for the very elite of the game.

A trawl through the history books shows legend after legend slipping their arms into the famed Green Jacket.

Jack Nicklaus won it six times, Tiger Woods five and Arnold Palmer four.

Dustin Johnson was World No.1 when winning last year and that followed Tiger's emotional win in 2019.

But the Masters can produce surprises.

England's Danny Willett was a shock winner in 2016. And even recent champions such as Sergio Garcia (2017), Patrick Reed (2018) and Bubba Watson (2012) were further down the betting than their pedigree suggests.

Looking at the current betting, there are five players at 12/1 or below in the betting - Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan SpiethJustin Thomas and Jon Rahm.

There's also plenty of quality names between 16/1 and 33/1.

But how about those at 40/1 or higher? Here Planet Sport Golf looks at those capable of giving the very big guns a run for their money.

Cameron Smith (40/1 BetVictor)

After all the heartbreaks for Greg Norman, Adam Scott lifted the Aussie curse by winning the Green Jacket in 2013.

Now, Smith looks like becoming the second Australian to triumph at Augusta National. He showed his chops with tied fifth in 2018 and then became the first player in Masters history to shoot all four rounds in the 60s last year, finishing runner-up.

He'll arrive in good form again after a top four at Riviera and a pair of top 20s in Florida. A wonderful short game means he'll cope better than most on this course.

Paul Casey (40/1 BetVictor)

Experience counts for plenty at Augusta National and Casey has plenty of that. And not just in terms of appearances but in good finishes: he has five top-10s.

Casey was runner-up in the PGA Championship last year and took victory at the Dubai Desert Classic in January. It won't be lost on the Englishman that Willett and Garcia both won that event before capturing the Green Jacket a few months later.

With a trio of top 10s in his last three PGA Tour starts and a strong record on tough courses, Casey could be a big contender.

Sungjae Im (40/1 BetVictor)

The Korean made a sensational Masters debut in November, firing 66-70-68-69 to finish tied for second. He said the course suited him visually and he couldn't wait to get back there.

There are legitimate claims that the course will play much tougher in 2021 but having won last year's Honda Classic with 6-under, Im has the mental fortitude to dig deep and thrive.

Now in the world's top 20, Im is still going a little beneath the radar but he could change all that this week.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (50/1 BetVictor)

Pure and simple, Fitzpatrick is one of the form horses heading to Augusta National. And his course record offers further encouragement.

In five strokeplay events from January to March, the Englishman posted finishes of 17-5-11-10-9. That included a trio of top 11s in Florida which is often a good pointer to Masters success.

He's posted 5-under 67s in three of his last five Masters and has made every cut there as a pro with a best of tied seventh when the course played tough in 2016.

Tommy Fleetwood (55/1 Unibet)

The English challenge is a strong one this year and Fleetwood is very much a part of that given his combination of current form and slightly hidden course form.

He was swinging the club well when making the last eight of the WGC Dell Match Play and that followed on from a top 10 at Bay Hill just two starts earlier.

Although his Masters form is solid - 19-36-17 the last three years - he's been in the top 10 after 54 holes twice in that run. He's also gone round in 66 (R2 in 2020 and R3 in 2018) on two occasions which is impressive.

Scottie Scheffler (55/1 Unibet)

The big-hitting American is already making a big splash in the top events despite this being just his second season on the PGA Tour.

Scheffler challenged for victory on his PGA Championship debut in 2020, eventually finishing in a tie for fourth, and then rocked up at Augusta National for his first Masters and posted T19.

A run to the final of the WGC Dell Match Play two weeks ago further cemented his reputation as one of the game's rising stars and Augusta looks a good fit for him.

Corey Conners (80/1 BetVictor)

Mike Weir became the first Canadian to win the Green Jacket in 2003 and Conners looks capable of flying the maple leaf with pride this year.

The 29-year-old played his first Masters as an amateur in 2014, missing the cut, and then took T46 on his first visit as a pro in 2019. He continued that forward trajectory with an impressive T10 last year.

He'll return on the back of third at Bay Hill, seventh at Sawgrass and 14th in last week's Texas Open.

Bubba Watson (80/1 Unibet)

A Masters leaderboard usually features one or two past winners and Bubba could be the one to remind us why Augusta National is still his playground.

The winner in 2012 and 2014, Bubba, along with Phil Mickelson and Weir, showed us that left-handers thrive at this venue and a fifth and 12th in two of the last three years, shows he's still a force at The Masters.

His current form is patchy but Bubba did win his group at the recent WGC Dell Match Play so could be coming to life again at the perfect time.

Abraham Ancer (80/1 BetVictor)

He's yet to win on the PGA TOUR but the Mexican is knocking at the door and boasts solid form after a run of three straight top 25s, the latest after a good weekend in Texas.

What helps him stand out is a recall of November's Masters when, on debut, he opened 68-67 to earn a piece of the halfway lead before a 69 put him second with 18 to play.

The pressure got to Ancer that time as he dropped back to T13 but most of the memories were positive and he looks an outsider worth keeping an eye on.

Justin Rose (90/1 Unibet)

Rose came agonisingly close to winning the Green Jacket in 2017 before being pipped by Sergio Garcia whie he was also runner-up in 2015.

With five top 10s and seven other top 25s he's very much in the "course horse" mould and his prep for this year's event looks interesting.

The 2013 US Open winner has decided to put his entire focus on the event, skipping regular PGA TOUR events and playing several practice rounds at Augusta in the last three weeks. His current form is patchy but few know their way around this course as well as Rose.

READ MORE: Butch Harmon on Rory McIlroy's Masters chances

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