Three outsiders who could land a Major Championship surprise in 2022

Who can make an elite level breakthrough in 2022? We take a closer look.

When casting a glance towards the Major Championships of 2022 it's easy for the eye to be drawn by players in the top 10 of the world rankings.

Jon Rahm (number one) and Collin Morikawa (two) are the obvious most-likely winners. Both have made Major breakthroughs in the last two seasons and golfers who win multiple Majors (as seems likely in both their cases) do so in quick time.

Rory McIlroy won his four in 14 starts, Jordan Spieth three in 13, Brooks Koepka four in eight.

All three of those players will also be hoping to revive their Major quest in 2022 and will have plenty of backers in each of the four chances they have.

Meanwhile, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland will attract plenty of attention as most-likely-first-time Major winners.

But what of rather more left-field suggestions?

Let's investigate key championship trends to identify plausible outsiders for 2022 Major glory.

Testing the thin air

In 2021 Phil Mickelson stunned the golfing world to win the PGA Championship at 200/1 and Hideki Matsuyama was available at 45/1 to win the Masters.

Mickelson's triumph was really quite outlandish, hinted at only by one excellent round in his preceding start.

But Matsuyama fitted a pattern, because 23 of the last 28 winners of Majors had been in the mix at least one of their previous three Major Championship starts - either finishing top six or lying top six with 18 holes to play.

For the year's first Major that flags up plenty of likely candidates, plus a lot of less favoured names.

Perhaps the most intriguing is that of Canada's Corey Conners who was fourth with 18 holes to play at the Open before finishing T15th.

Moreover, he enjoyed a year of growing comfort at the top level. He also finished top 10 at THE PLAYERS Championship and top 20 at the PGA Championship, the Olympics and in the FedExCup playoffs.

What's more, Conners has a fine record at Augusta National. Back in 2015 he got off to a ropey start as an amateur, carding an opening 80 but he hinted at what was to come by responding with a 69.

His first pro visit started much better - he spent the first two days inside the top 20 before finishing T46th. He improved to T10th in 2020, playing especially well after a poor first round.

Last year he was tied sixth heading into the final round before finishing tied eighth.

He's 66/1 for the 2022 Masters.

The Maxwell factor

The PGA Championship will be hosted by Southern Hills Country Club, a venue with a layout designed by Perry Maxwell who was also responsible for Colonial Country Club, the regular host of the Charles Schwab Challenge.

The latter course is famous for its many doglegs and the fact that big-hitters rarely take the driver out of the bag. In fact, back in 2007, Tiger Woods revealed that Southern Hills had a similar dynamic - the many doglegs had him hitting "a lot of long irons or even fairway woods" from the tee.

That points us to Jason Kokrak, third at Colonial in 2020 and the winner there in 2021. Moreover, Kokrak is flush with confidence right now, having landed three PGA Tour wins in his last 29 starts.

You could add victory in the QBE Shootout earlier this month to that tally. Not only did he play like a man now used to winning, but he wouldn't be the first golfer to win late in the year and kick on to win a Major the following year. Silly season events have a funny habit of gifting a player more confidence.

His Major performances were less impressive than Conners' in 2021, but he did feature in the top 20 at three of them at some point in the week.

Seaside skills

Collin Morikawa surprised the world by winning the 2021 Open with very little linksland experience, but he also revealed (and proved) that he is a fast learner: in finishing T71st at the Scottish Open the week before his triumph he had seen what he was doing wrong and even changed his technology to aid his cause.

Playing the Scottish Open has become a key element in creating a winning Open strategy and the players know it - more will schedule a stop there in 2022, partly as a consequence of the event joining the PGA Tour.

So backing a player likely to play in that event, with links nous, and also winning form in links-like conditions seems a good start.

Aussie Lucas Herbert is now a winner on the European and PGA Tour, and he's finished tied fourth in the last two Scottish Opens - so he'll get in the field if he wants to (which seems very likely).

His first win on the European Tour came at a very blustery Emirates GC in the Dubai Desert Classic and his maiden victory on the PGA Tour late in 2021 was by the ocean in Bermuda - once again when the wind was wrecking the hopes of others.

Both of those results read well for the Open.

So does the fact that he has those two top four finishes at The Renaissance Club, and that he has also finished tied seventh at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

A win might be a push, but at three figures there is plenty of juice in this each way price.

Herbert is priced at 100/1 for the 150th Open.

READ MORE: Spotlight on: 2021 FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay in the 2022 Major Championships

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