It's become obvious who the favorites are to win the 2023 Masters this week at Augusta National Golf Club, and those golfers will often be the center of discussions all week. It's no secret that Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm have a good chance to capture the first major of the year. What you might not know is who could sneak past them and swipe the green jacket if one of the superstars of the sport stumbles.
These are players who have been playing terrific golf throughout the year (remember, most Masters champions come into the week striking the hell out of the ball in the months leading in) but may be flying under the radar because they aren't big names or people haven't been paying much attention to them down the stretch.
Their odds may be deflated compared to their actual opportunity to win the biggest tournament of the year to date, and there are several of them. Here are some that stand out to me heading into Masters week. Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
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2023 Masters sleepers
Jason Day (33-1): Day has arguably been the fifth-best player in the world so far in 2023, but I bet most folks haven't noticed that. He (narrowly) qualifies for our "nine of the last 11 Masters winners have been at 1.70 strokes gained tee to green or better in the three months prior to the Masters" statistic, and Day's history at Augusta National is excellent. Has everything -- five top 10s in his last six starts -- been building toward a run at the Masters? At 33-1, it's worth finding out.
Corey Conners (75-1): There have only been two players who have finished in the top 10 at each of the last three Masters. One is 14-1 to win the tournament (Cameron Smith), and the other is 75-1 (Conners). There's value to be had with somebody in the top 15 this year of Masters participants in terms of overall ball-striking. And while I don't actually think Conners is going to win a major championship this year, I feel fairly confident that -- depending what happens atop the leaderboard -- he's shorter than 75-1 on Saturday evening.
Cameron Young (30-1): A total menace who has two top-fives in his last three major championship starts and was the best player for the first four days at the WGC-Dell Match Play two weeks ago.,Young is sixth in the world this year in ball-striking among Masters participants. He might actually be the best driver on the planet. That wouldn't mean much if he couldn't back it up with iron play (especially at Augusta National), but he's seventh in that category as well. There's a fearlessness to Young that will play well if he's in the mix on Sunday afternoon as he seeks for not only his first major but his first PGA Tour win as well.
Patrick Reed (80-1): The case for Reed, who hasn't played on the PGA Tour since moving over to LIV Golf last summer, is that no matter what his form, he plays well at Augusta National. He's one of just two golfers over the last 11 Masters who have been outside that "gaining 1.7 strokes per round from tee to green" group mentioned earlier who has won the Masters. (Hideki Matsuyama is the other.) Reed also has two top 10s since his triumph in 2018 and will be mega juiced this time around because of how much rhetoric there will be about the league in which he now plays. Is he going to win? Probably not. Is 80-1 worth a look? Absolutely.
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Min Woo Lee (125-1): Lee played in the final pairing at the Players Championship in March alongside Scheffler and is a total electric factory. He holds the front nine scoring record at Augusta National (30!) and finished T14 in his debut at this tournament a year ago. I could not be more in on the Min Woo era, and if the putter cooperates, we could have another Players Championship situation on our hands.
Justin Rose (75-1): Remember when Rose was the en vogue pick at the Masters every year? Perhaps he should be again. He won at Pebble Beach two months ago, finished T6 at The Players and has -- count 'em -- six top 15 finishes in his last nine starts at Augusta.
Russell Henley (80-1) and Thomas Pieters (175-1): Both have a strong history at Augusta, and at those numbers, they are worth a flyer. (I'm basically just including them to say I did had them as sleepers when they're among the final few pairings on Sunday afternoon.)