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Davison's Five Long Shots to Watch at the 2024 Masters

The Masters starts on Thursday, and you have your usual tournament favorites like Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm. However, there are some underdogs with great odds who should de getting looked at more than they are. Without further ado, here are five of those underdogs who should be getting more love before the tournament.

No. 1 Corey Conners

Even though he hasn't won this season (or even had a top-10), Conners has been solid to start 2024. He is rounding into form at the right time, as he has had three top-25 finishes in his last three starts. Conners hasn't missed a cut this season, and he has only finished outside the top 50 once, so he has been solid, if unspectacular.

Conners’ history at Augusta National is excellent, especially for a player his age. He finished in the top 10 for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, peaking with a T6 finish in 2022 before missing the cut last year. He clearly likes the course, and that bodes well for him. He thrives with his short game, which will be a huge asset at Augusta National.

Conners has been in contention entering Sunday here before, and while he didn't play particularly well in the final round in 2021 or 2022, he has the experience and game to win. He doesn't get into trouble often, but when he does, he plays smart, which will be necessary to contend.

No. 2 Sungjae Im

Im is another player with a solid track record at Augusta National, having finished T2 in his first appearance in 2020 and adding a T8 finish in 2022 and a T16 finish in 2023. He has been hit-or-miss to start the season, with three missed cuts in 10 events, but he started the season with a T5 finish at the Sentry, and he added a T18 last month in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, a course that tends to play somewhat similar to Augusta National.

Im knows how to win, and while he hasn't won since 2021, he has had 18 top-10s and three runner-up finishes since that most recent win. Im is a solid player who likes to play conservatively, and that bodes well this week, as the course usually plays as a tough course that doesn't like to give birdie opportunities apart from the Par-5s.

Suppose the tournament does turn into a shootout, Im has shown that he can keep up, as his T2 finish in 2020 came at 15-under, which would have won the tournament in all but six other Masters, and it also ranked as the lowest total in tournament history for a runner-up. Im knows the course, and he has already shown that if he enters Sunday in contention, he can be a force to be reckoned with.

No. 3 Akshay Bhatia

Bhatia is the PGA Tour's most recent winner, having won the Valero Texas Open this weekend in a playoff over Denny McCarthy. Bhatia will be making his first Masters appearance, and no Masters rookie has won since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. However, Bhatia has been playing extremely well after missing three straight cuts a month ago, following those three up with a T17, a T11, and his win over the last three weeks.

Fatigue may plague Bhatia, as this is his sixth tournament in as many weeks, but it didn't bother him last week, and he comes into the tournament as one of the hottest players on tour. This season, Bhatia has played in 10 events, and he has four missed cuts, but out of his other six starts, his worst finish is the T17 at the Valspar Championship. Bhatia has either missed the cut entirely or gone into Sunday in contention this year, and there is no reason to expect this week to be any different.

Augusta National sets up well for Bhatia, as he is known for his accuracy and putting prowess. If Bhatia were to win this week, he would not only be the first Masters rookie to win since 1979, but he would also become the fourth left-handed Masters Champion after Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson.

No. 4 Keegan Bradley

Bradley has had a career resurgence over the last two years, in part due to his usage of the AimPoint putting technique, and the 2011 PGA Champion is looking to add another major championship trophy to his resume. While he has never cracked the top 20 at Augusta National, he has only missed one cut in seven appearances. Last year, after missing three straight Masters, he finished T23, though he was just seven strokes away from a tie for second place.

Bradley has traditionally played well in majors, but the Masters is the only one of the four in which he has never placed in the top 20. He has also played well to start the year, with a playoff loss at the Sony Open being the highlight. If Bradley finds himself in contention on Sunday, he could easily become a major champion again.

No. 5 Taylor Moore

Moore broke through and won his first PGA Tour event last March at the Valspar Championship, and last year, he went into Sunday at the Masters with a chance of a top-10 before falling apart and finishing T39. This year, Moore has been solid to start the year, with no missed cuts in nine starts, and his last two starts have been his best; first, a T12 at the Valspar Championship and then a T2 finish at the Texas Children's Houston Open where he was part of a five-way tie for second that also included Scottie Scheffler, Thomas Detry, Alejandro Tosti, and Tony Finau. 

Moore showed last year that he has the ability to contend at Augusta National, even if he didn't end up with a good finish to show for it. He went into Sunday under par and two strokes outside the top-10, shooting a 78. If he can get back into contention on Sunday this year, he should be able to learn from his mistakes last year and put up a better fight.

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