Masters 2012 Leaderboard: Matt Kuchar and Biggest Surprises so Far

Thad Novak@@ThadNovakCorrespondent IApril 8, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Matt Kuchar of the United States hits a shot on the fifth hole during the third round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

While many major-championship mainstays have struggled in the 2012 Masters, some lesser-known names have stepped up. With a slew of potential first-time champions vying for the green jacket, will veteran Phil Mickelson triumph after climbing to second place, or will one of the low-profile leaders come out on top?

Of all the unexpected leaders heading into Sunday, this trio has done the most to outplay expectations:


Matt Kuchar

Currently fifth at five shots under par, Kuchar is in decidedly uncharted territory. Coming into this weekend, he had just three PGA Tour victories and none since 2010.

Kuchar had a pair of top-10 finishes in majors in that 2010 season, but Augusta National has never been kind to him in the past. He’s played just three previous Masters, missing the cut once and finishing 24th and 27th in the last two years.


Peter Hanson

Having just joined the PGA Tour as a special temporary member at the end of March, Peter Hanson is showing that his success in World Golf Championship play hasn’t been any kind of fluke. Hanson’s sensational seven under round on Saturday has him on top of the leaderboard heading into the final round.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Peter Hanson of Sweden lines up a putt on the second green during the third round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images


Hanson finished seventh at last year’s U.S. Open, but beyond that performance, his best showing at a major was 16th place. He’s only even played in one previous Masters, missing the cut last spring.


Sean O’Hair

With only two career top-10 finishes in majors, O’Hair is in position to put in his best performance yet. A solid Saturday effort has him at two under par for the tournament, albeit seven shots off the lead.

O’Hair, who has just one win in the last two years, is unlikely to make up quite that big a deficit to take home his first major, but he has to be encouraged by his effort this weekend. After missing the cut in 2011, he’s got a real chance to crack the top five with a good finish today.