April 9, 2019 / 6:34 PM / 3 months ago

2019 Masters: Rating the Rookies

The gravity of the event and the nuances of Augusta National are the driving factors behind only three rookies winning the green jacket in the 82 Masters contested since 1934.

Mar 17, 2019; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Eddie Pepperell on the 18th green during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Ten professionals among the 87-player field will be making their Masters debuts this week.

There are few household names, but plenty of talent that could make some noise this week. Rating the rookies in this year’s field:

Eddie Pepperell, England (World Golf Rank: 40): Pepperell first popped onto the worldwide scene by posting the low round on Sunday at last year’s Open Championship. He made another final-round run at The Players last month, again showing that he can handle the biggest stages. We like the 28-year-old’s game — and mental makeup — to be hovering around the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Matt Wallace, England (36): Some will recall Wallace’s hole-in-one at last year’s PGA Championship. But the Englishman is well known on the European Tour after posting three victories in 2018. His form hasn’t been stellar since a solo second at the Dubai Desert Classic in January — a T6 at Bay Hill being his only other top-10 this year. But Wallace’s game garners a lot of respect from fellow players.

Lucas Bjerregaard, Denmark (43): Other pros had hinted at the Dane’s all-around game before he slayed Tiger Woods en route to a semifinal showing at the WGC-Match Play event last month. He missed the cut last week and fatigue has to be a concern after a busy stretch in the U.S. for the European Tour star.

Keith Mitchell, United States (60): It’s understandable that Mitchell’s results have tailed off since winning his first PGA Tour event at The Honda Classic and then posting a T6 the next week at Bay Hill. He went T47 at The Players before failing to advance out of the group stage at Match Play. Mitchell has a lot of game and, more important at Augusta National, length to spare.

Corey Conners, Canada (84): Talk about a whirlwind turn of events. Conners had to Monday qualify just to be in last week’s field at the Valero Texas Open. He then went on to win the event and secure the final spot in this year’s Masters — along with a slew of other perks. He’s an unlikely contender but should at least be playing with nothing to lose.

Aaron Wise, United States (67): In the field courtesy of his victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson last year, there is little to suggest that Wise is prepared to make a run this week. He has four missed cuts in his past seven starts and only one top-20 result. His swing is highly inconsistent at the moment, which was on full display during his Match Play loss to Woods.

Andrew Landry, United States (128): Landry admitted losing some focus after winning his first PGA Tour event at last year’s Valero Texas Open. He didn’t make the cut in his title defense, which has been fairly standard of late. He has five MCs in nine events in 2019 and hasn’t posted a top-20 result since last July.

Adam Long, United States (108): Another first-time winner this season at the Desert Classic, Long promptly missed his next five cuts. On the Web.com Tour this time last year, Long will no doubt enjoy the pageantry and the azaleas, but sticking around for the weekend would be considered a significant accomplishment.

Kevin Tway, United States (98): It has been going steadily downhill for Tway since beginning the 2018-19 season with a victory at the Safeway Open. That includes six consecutive missed cuts dating back to February.

Michael Kim, United States (330): How does the world’s 330th-ranked player make his way into the Masters field? By winning last year’s John Deere. Since then, Kim has missed 13 of 18 cuts, including all eight in 2019. He tied for last in the limited-field Tournament of Champions and missed two more cuts prior to that.

—Derek Harper, Field Level Media

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