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Masters 2024: Scott Van Pelt roasts Curtis Strange for his Masters 'dark horse' pick

April 03, 2024
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Jared Tilton

It's nearly Masters week, which means it's time to hear everyone's picks to win the Masters. There's certainly no shortage of that on GolfDigest.com, where we have our Masters ranking and some bets we're already making. In addition, our staff will be making some predictions, including a "dark horse" pick to win. Which led to a bit of a Slack battle over what exactly constitues a "dark horse."

I threw out Jason Day and was mocked for that. "He's a major champ!" "He's a former World No. 1" came the cries from coworkers. Fine, but he's also only won one PGA Tour event in the past six years, it's been nearly nine years since he won his lone major, and he's listed at 40-to-1 odds to win. Still, I relented and went with Sahith Theegala at 55-to-1 odds, which seemed to satisfy everyone involved. Why am I telling you all this? Because I don't feel bad at all after hearing who Curtis Strange tabbed as his "dark horse."

On a Tuesday teleconference featuring ESPN's Strange, Scott Van Pelt and Andy North, Strange volunteered that Ludvig Aberg was his "Dark horse" to win. Strange admitted he'd gotten some blowback for this from his researchers due to Aberg's meteoric rise from college golfer to Ryder Cupper, but he felt it still made sense.

"I love that you brought him up first," Strange said during the call promoting ESPN's early-round coverage of the year's first major. "He’s my dark horse. In the last week, some of my researchers at ESPN said how can he be a dark horse? I said, well, he’s never played in a major before."

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Alex Slitz

Strange has a point. Major debutants—especially at the Masters where the last rookie to win was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979—don't win often. But it's tough to call a guy who is the second favorite at this week's Valero Texas Open (behind only Rory freaking McIlroy) a dark horse or a sleeper. The 24-year-old Swedish stud won't be sneaking up on anyone anywhere. And SVP couldn't resist taking a little jab.

"I want to say for the record that Curtis has picked the ninth-ranked player in the world as his dark horse," Van Pelt said. "Out there on a really, really wiggly limb."

Sorry, Curtis, but Scott has a point as well. Currently on DraftKings, Aberg is 25-to-1 and only listed behind six players: World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, defending champ Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth. Decent list.

That being said, a lot of announcers (we won't name names) these days don't make any picks. So we appreciate the effort, Curtis.