Brendan Steele, U.S.A.
Here’s another big hitter that I love to make a big splash at Augusta National. He’s a 31 year-old golfer from California who is having a big year in 2015 so far.
Steele has made all 11 cuts in tournaments he’s played in this season showing his strong consistency and he has two top 10’s and five top-25’s already this year. Steele finished T-2 in the Humana Challenge and brought home his second top 10 at the Valero Texas Open at the end of March where he finished T-8 after windy conditions brought scores way down.
Steele ranks 13th in driving distance on tour with an average of over 302 yards per drive and while he hasn’t been extremely accurate he can get it done from the rough, something you absolutely need at Augusta National. Most players that can win at Augusta are players like Bubba Watson who has won twice in the past three years. He can hit it long, but can scramble for great approach shots from the rough even when he’s inaccurate from the tee, which is often.
His scoring average, birdie average and eagles are all top 20 on the PGA Tour this season. Steele’s best round on the year is the second round, showing why he’s able to make cuts. He’s 14th in second round scoring average and his putts per second round are second on the PGA Tour. It really only takes one great round at Augusta National to be at the top of the leaderboard as long as you can hold on. Seven of the last 11 winners at Augusta National have finished 10-under par or less (meaning a higher score) including each of the past three years which have been 8-under, 9-under and 10-under.
I like Steele as a guy who will come from the shadows and produce well in his first Masters tournament since 2012. The guy is in his prime at the peak of his career, and now is the team to get it done in the big tournaments and I think you could see Steele has a strong dark horse candidate.
Next: Chris Kirk