Of the 87 competitors in this week’s Masters Tournament field, five European Tour members are taking their first steps on the hallowed greens of Augusta National. Here are the five members making their Masters’ bows this week…
Wallace – 36th in the world
A relentless competitor, Matt Wallace’s rise to prominence on the European Tour over the last two years has been nothing short of astonishing. In 2016, he won six times on the Alps Tour, earning his European Challenge Tour card for the following season.
He earned full playing rights on the European Tour after winning his first title at the Open de Portugal, and then went on to have a breakout year in 2018.
Wallace began the season with victory at the Hero Indian Open in March, and won his second event, the BMW International Open, in June. The Englishman made up for missed cuts at both the U.S. Open Championship and The Open Championship at Carnoustie with a tied 19th finish at the US PGA Championship at Bellerive. Pushing for a place in The 2018 Ryder Cup side, he overcame three compatriots, including former World Number One Lee Westwood, in a four-man play-off at the Made in Denmark to win his third title of the season.
An excellent end to 2018, including a tied fifth finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player and a runner-up result at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai saw him finish the year inside the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
He picked up where he left off at the start of this year with a runner-up finish to Bryson DeChambeau at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and then finished in a share of sixth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard in his second regular event on the US PGA Tour.
Pepperell – 40th in the world
Eddie Pepperell started 2018 ranked 133rd in the world but would go on to end the year in 35th place after securing his first two European Tour titles in a memorable season.
The Englishman moved inside the top 100 in the world for the first time in his career after his win at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. He then had two runner-up finishes in the space of seven tournaments – the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and Portugal Masters – before securing his second victory on home soil.
At Walton Heath, Pepperell produced some of his best golf, including three eagles and a hole-in-one as he won the British Masters by two strokes, moving to a career-high 33rd in the world.
He almost stole the show at The PLAYERS Championship on the US PGA Tour last month as he sank an incredible 50-foot birdie putt on the iconic 17th hole, eventually finishing in a share of third place.
With two ‘Masters’ titles already under his belt, could Pepperell add a third to the collection as he looks to rekindle his winning form.
Bjerregaard – 43rd in the world
The Tiger tamer. Lucas Bjerregaard hit the headlines after defeating 14-time Major Champion Tiger Woods in the Round of 16 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play last month, going on to finish fourth in Austin – but his journey to the Masters begins much earlier than that.
The Dane spent the first half of 2018 hovering just outside the world’s top 100 before a stunning run of form culminated with him winning his second European Tour title.
Starting at the D+D REAL Czech Masters, Bjerregaard finished in a share of ninth, then sixth, on home soil at the Made in Denmark, and second at the Omega European Masters. After a tied 20th finish at the Portugal Masters, he held off the challenge of twice-defending champion Tyrrell Hatton and Ryder Cup hero Tommy Fleetwood as he went on to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at The Home of Golf.
A strong finish to the 2018 season, including tied fifth and tied 11th results at the Turkish Airlines Open and Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, saw him rise up the world rankings and he would finish the year inside the top 50.
Now a career-high 43rd in the world, expect big things from the great Dane.
Harding – 49th in the world
One of the world’s most consistent players in 2018, Justin Harding rose an astonishing 627 places in the Official World Golf Ranking after a season which included four victories on the Sunshine and Asian Tours, two runner-up and two third place finishes. The South African moved from 712th to 85th by the end of the year.
Earning his European Tour card after finishing third on the 2018 Asian Tour Order of Merit, Harding certainly made the most of his opportunity with top ten finishes at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and ISPS Handa Vic Open.
Victory at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters saw him rise to World Number 52 and he almost won back-to-back events as he finished second to Guido Migliozzi at the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa the following week. A debut appearance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play guaranteed his trip to Augusta National as he finished in a share of 17th place.
Wise – 67th in the world
A European Tour Affiliate Member for the 2019 season, Aaron Wise earned his place at Augusta National by virtue of his US PGA Tour victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson last year. The 23-year-old made big strides in world golf in 2018.
It took him some time to find his feet on the PGA Tour, but he enjoyed the best two weeks of his career to date in May after finishing second to Jason Day at the Wells Fargo Championship and then winning the AT&T Byron Nelson the following week with a tournament record score of 23 under par.
Since then he finished tied sixth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and in a share of fifth at The Northern Trust before ending 2018 with four successive top-20 finishes.