The 2021-22 golf season has been ticking along nicely since October, but as winter quickly turns to spring, things are really starting to heat up — and we aren’t talking about the weather! That’s right, the Masters, the first major tournament of the year, is just a matter of days away and by no sooner than Sunday, April 9th, we’ll have another name etched on to the winners’ board in the iconic Augusta National club house.
Every player that makes the trip down the famous Magnolia Drive over the next couple of days will be hoping to leave the hallowed grounds of the Georgia-based course donning a coveted Green Jacket. And while the Masters 2022 betting odds are favouring the likes of Spaniard Jon Rahm and American Justin Thomas, it is often those least expected that are holding the Masters Trophy aloft at the end of play on Sunday.
That said, let’s take a look at some of the golfers who have caused an upset at Augusta over the last decade or so. Read on to find out more!
2016: Danny Willett
If you were to ask someone to name an English winner of the Masters, most would probably answer with the legendary Nick Faldo. That’s not to take anything away from Danny Willett’s success in 2016, when he became just the second Englishman to win the Masters, but he just isn’t the first name that would typically spring to mind.
125/1 to win the Green Jacket prior to the tournament getting underway, it wasn’t until late in the final round that Willett actually took the lead. In fact, it looked like Jordan Spieth was going to defend — boasting a five-shot lead over the Englishman with just six holes left.
But the American imploded at the dreaded Amen Corner and Willett took advantage, carding three birdies on the six remaining holes and an overall score of five-under par — a three-shot lead over Spieth and compatriot Lee Westwood at the top of the final standings.
2011: Charl Schwartzel
Spieth wasn’t the first person to capitulate on the back nine at the testing Augusta, and he certainly won’t be the last, as Rory McIlroy suffered a similar fate at the 2011 edition of the Masters — shockingly finishing tied for 15th after going into the final round with a four-shot advantage.
While the Northern Irishman, who was only 21 at time, was unable to hold his nerve in the final round, South African Schwartzel was as cool as cucumber — birdieing the final four holes to impressively card a final round of 66, his lowest score of the week, to hold off the challenge of Australian duo Jason Day and Adam Scott to win by two strokes.
50 years on from his fellow South African Gary Player’s victory, Schwartzel was a 50/1 chance before tee-off time on the first day. But it seems that the 2011 Masters will always be remembered for McIlroy’s meltdown, which must still haunt him to this day.
2021: Hideki Matsuyama
The host of this year’s Champions Dinner, after winning the 2021 renewal of the Masters, Hideki Matsuyama is faced with the difficult task of defending his Masters title this year, a feat only three players — Jack Nicklaus, Faldo and Woods — have achieved.
Funnily enough, it was Dustin Johnson who was heavily tipped to add his name to that list last April. The American wiped the floor at the rescheduled tournament in November 2020, recording a record 20-under over the course of the four days, and the general consensus was that he’d do the same just six months later.
However, with Johnson missing the cut, the door was open for a new winner to swoop in and Matsuyama took a grip on proceedings. The 50/1 shot flew up the leaderboard in the third round, scoring seven-under, and taking a four-shot lead into the Masters Sunday.
Despite carding one over on the final day, Matsuyama won by one shot clear of Will Zalatoris — becoming the first Japanese native to win one of golf’s four majors.