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When Sam Burns won the 2022 Valspar Championship on Sunday, he became the second golfer in the last three events to pick up at least three PGA Tour wins before making his debut at Augusta National. Burns' three victories (two Valspars and the Sanderson Farms Championship) have pushed him into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings, but they all came after the 2021 Masters, which means his drive down Magnolia Lane in two weeks will be his first.

Collin Morikawa also won three times (including a major championship) before the oddly-situated 2020 Masters in November. Morikawa finished T44 in his Masters debut before going on to win the Open Championship the following summer.

All of this begs the question: Could a first-time participant at Augusta unlock the Rubik's cube that was once disguised as a nursery?

It's been done before, but it hasn't happened inn a long time. In 1979, Fuzzy Zoeller shot 70-71-69-70 and won in a playoff over Tom Watson and Ed Sneed.

Since that tournament, though, first-timers have not gotten off the schneid. The prevailing narrative is that it takes old-school characteristics like wisdom and mettle and battle-testedness to conquer Augusta in your debut. I'm not sure that's exactly correct, though.

Last year, debutante Will Zalatoris finished one shot out of a playoff as Hideki Matsuyama went on to win. I'll never forget what he said that Thursday after shooting 70 to sit T4 after 18 holes.

"Kind of the joke that I've been saying with my family is if I'm stupid enough to think I can play here, then I'm stupid enough to think I can win it," said Zalatoris. "Like I said, just kind of focusing on the process, and I know that's a very boring media statement that I'm sure you guys hear a lot, but it's what's gotten me here."

Zalatoris isn't the only golfer to have recent first-time success at Augusta. In fact, of the seven golfers who have finished in second place at the Masters since World War II, five of them (Jason Day, Jonas Blixt, Jordan Spieth, Sungjae Im and Zalatoris) have come in the last 10 years.

The anecdote that younger players are more prepared to win when they get on the PGA Tour, which seems to have some statistical roots, also appears to be true at the Masters.

There are 16 first-timers in this year's Masters, but not all of them have an equivalent chance of winning the event. Among those who have qualified, Talor Gooch, Harry Higgs, Tom Hoge and Min Woo Lee are all interesting, but it's Burns that stands apart from the rest. In addition to his No. 10 world ranking, Burns is ranked No. 9 on Data Golf and possess the physical skillset to win a major championship.

He has a pretty spotty history at majors thus far in limited experience. Burns' best finish at a major thus far is a T29 at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. However, he's turned himself into a plus in every strokes-gained category (off the tee, approach, around the greens and putting), and the thing he does best (iron play) also happens to be the most statistic when it comes to winning this tournament.

Perhaps the stronger trait Burns already possesses is that he knows how to win. Many first-timers qualify by getting into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings or maybe qualifying for the previous year's Tour Championship. Not all of them have won, and even the ones that have normally haven't won as often as Burns.

That won't make the pressure feel different on that second nine on Sunday afternoon with the world watching, but it does provide some much-needed confidence for those trying to seal the deal.

"When you're coming down the stretch and you're near the lead and you want to have this belief that you can do it, sometimes it's tough when you haven't done it yet," said Burns on Sunday after winning the Valspar for a second time. "So, I think for me today, it was just only thing I can control is what I'm doing, how I'm reacting to the shots, everything else is out of my control."

What is in Burns' control, like the rest of the field at Augusta National here in a few weeks, is a major championship win. He's unlikely to get it because technically everyone playing is unlikely to get it.

But if recent form holds (we've seen a newcomer finish second in two straight Masters), Burns is the best bet to enter that conversation. And given his game and his growth over the last year, who knows, he might just mess around and become the first player in over 40 years to go out there and win it in his first four rounds ever at the most prestigious tournament in the world.