Augusta may be a rookie-mangler but Walker can lead the way

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No one is a good driver the first time they ever sit behind the wheel of a car. By the same token, Masters rookies might as well adorn L plates when they tee it up at Augusta, just to prepare everyone else for a potential crash.

The Augusta National is not a course that a wet-behind-the-ears golfer simply rocks up to and dominates, not even Tiger Woods.

That fact is further illustrated by the damning stat that only three men have managed a Masters victory at the first attempt in the history of the tournament.

When you consider that no first-timer has conquered all at Augusta since 1979, it seems remiss to slap a load of dough on a virgin claiming the green jacket.

In 2014, the urge to do just that is stronger than ever. 24 fresh-faced rookies, six of which are amateurs, descend on Magnolia Lane to compete in the year’s first Major. That’s the highest number since the inaugural event.

The quality of the candidates is strong too, with 11 of the 18 pros occupying the top 50 in the world golf rankings. But, while they may have the right to be a confident bunch, the odds suggest Augusta National will bash that out of them.

That’s why betting on the top rookie market is a far more intriguing proposition. The three market co-leaders, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Harris English, are available at 11/2 (all three are 50/1 to win outright) but it’s the 15/2 on Jimmy Walker that appeals most.

The world number 24 has won three PGA titles since October and leads the FedEx Cup standings. He’s racked up 11 top-25 finishes in his 13 appearances this season and, with the wet weather extending Augusta’s length, has the long-game (302 yards per drive on average) to survive.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.