The Entire Masters Field Ranked 1-88, With Info On Each And Every Player In The Field At Augusta
Happy Masters Week! Major championship season is back, and to get you ready for the year's first major I've ranked each player in the field, 1-88. I've also written little blurbs to catch you up on what each guy's been up to in the nine months since the Open Championship, and to offer my take on their chances. Fom Tiger to Phil, Rahmbo to Sandy Lyle and everyone in between.
Use it to inform your bets. Use it to win your office Masters pool. Use it to simply be a more informed viewer, because sports were cool even before we all gambled on them. Or don't use it at all. Read all words, all billion of them, or read only some of them, or read none at all. There are no rules.
Without further ado…
88. Sandy Lyle
Age: 65 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 42
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 1988
Played his final PGA Tour Champions event a few weeks ago and shot 18 over par for three rounds, so this could get ugly. This will mark his final appearance in the Masters, and it’s probably the right time—he’s missed the cut in each of the last eight.
87. Larry Mize
Age: 64 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 39
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 1987
This will also be his last drive up Magnolia Lane, and he'll call it quits after playing in his 40th Masters. The 1987 champ has missed the cut in each of the last five years and hasn't played a competitive round of golf since August.
86. Jose Maria Olazabal
Age: 57 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 33
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 1994 and 1999
Two-time Masters champion is among the best short-gamers of all time. Doesn’t play much competitively anymore but did tee it up a few weeks ago in the PGA Tour Champions event in California and finished near dead-last.
85. Matthew McClean (a)
Age: 30 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First
An optometrist by trade but a professional amateur in recent months, this will mark his seventh competitive start of the year, more than a good portion of pros in t. Won the all-Irish final of the U.S. Mid-Amateur to earn his spot. The 70th-ranked amateur in the world.
84. Fred Couples
Age: 63 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 37
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 1992
Called Phil Mickelson a ‘nutbag’ a few weeks ago and will now dine with him during the Champions Dinner on Tuesday, so that’s something. Now been 31 years since his lone major championship victory, and in the years since he’s been the fan favorite of all fan favorites. Rickie Fowler before Rickie Fowler. He’s oft-cited as one of those Masters lifers who seems to contend no matter his age, but the truth is Father Time has had the upper hand in recent years—he’s missed the cut in each of his last four Masters starts.
83. Harrison Crowe (a)
Age: 22 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First
Aussie won the Asia-Pacific Amateur to book his trip to Augusta National. He’s had some nice victories back home in Australia, including the New South Wales Open and New South Wales Amateur titles, and ranks 32nd in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings. Will almost surely turn professional after he plays the Open Championship later this summer.
82. Vijay Singh
Age: 60 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 29
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2000
Still working as hard as a man half his age and still very competitive on the PGA Tour Champions. But, you know, Father Time and its 18-0 record. Been five years since he’s played the weekend at Augusta, but he certainly still has the speed to do it should he play nearly perfect.
81. Aldrich Potgieter (a)
Age: 18 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First
Became the second-youngest winner of the British Amateur last summer and has kept up that momentum, adding the African Amateur and the prestigious Sage Valley Junior Invitational to his trophy case. At 18, he’s already the No. 32 amateur in the world and profiles as a highly promising junior for South African golf.
80. Mike Weir
Age: 52 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 23
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2003
His decline was a rather steep one—the game kept getting longer and, as he aged, he couldn’t quite keep up. Still plays a full time schedule on the PGA Tour Champions so his game should be sharp enough. But this is a lot of golf course for him.
79. Ben Carr (a)
Age: 22 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First
Big-hitting Georgia Southern senior got all the way to the U.S. Amateur finals—and did so with former PGA Tour player Will Wilcox on the bag. Finished second and first in his last two college events but doesn’t play against top-level competition that the bigger programs do. Grew up in Columbus, Georgia, near the Alabama border and less than a 4-hour drive from Augusta. Doesn’t get much better for a Georgia lifer.
78. Mateo Fernandez de Oliviera (a)
Age: 23 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First
Finished second in the Latin America Amateur Championship in 2022 to barely miss a Masters berth, so he did one better by winning the LAAC in January to lock up a tee time at Augusta National. From Argentina, he’s top 30 in the world amateur rankings and is currently a senior at Arkansas, which has produced two winners on the PGA Tour already this year: Nicolas Echavarria and Taylor Moore. Says Echavarria of Mateo’s game: “he’s got the short-game of a top 20 player on tour.”
77. Kazuki Higa
Age: 27 World Ranking: 81 Masters appearances: First
Won the Japan Tour’s Order of Merit in 2022 to get a spot into the field. Guys who’ve done that—played well in Japan to get spots into majors—have not fared well at all, and he missed the cut by five at last year’s Open in his first major start. Also missed the cut last week at the Valero Texas Open, and it wasn’t close.
76. Bernhard Langer
Age: 65 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 39
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 1985 and 1993
Truly an ageless wonder, his longevity and senior-tour success is just as much a part of his legacy as his in-his-prime accomplishments, which include being No. 1 in the world and winning two Masters. Won a record-tying 45th(!) title on the PGA Tour Champions in February to tie Hale Irwin’s all-time record, and he shot his age with an opening-round 64 in the process. Often cited alongside Couples as one of those guys who continues to play well no matter their age but Couples he, too, has recently struggled on the beefed up course, missing the cut in both of his last Masters starts.
75. Zach Johnson
Age: 47 World Ranking: 316 Masters appearances: 18
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2007
His best playing days are behind him, and he’s focusing his efforts on his Ryder Cup captaincy for the American side this year. Still makes plenty of cuts on the PGA Tour (six of eight so far this season) but has missed the weekend in his last six major championship starts. You do wonder if the game has space for an accuracy first, second and third player like him moving forward, but that’s a conversation for another time.
74. Sam Bennett (a)
Age: 23 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First
Reigning U.S. Amateur champ can club twirl with the best of them, and he’s definitely rockin’ with a certain moxie. Returned to Texas A&M after that win at Ridgewood CC for a fifth and final year of college golf, hoping to win the PGA Tour U rankings and get an immediate PGA Tour card. Currently sits fourth in those standings, which would get him Korn Ferry Tour status. So committed to the Aggies that he turned down a sponsor’s invite into the Genesis Invitational at Riviera to play a college event in Hawaii. Which, of course, he won. A full two-and-a-half years older than Tom Kim.
73. Gordon Sargent (a)
Age: 19 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First
Picked a great year to win the NCAA championship (as a freshman!), because this is the first year the Masters has extended an invite to the reigning college champ. The Vanderbilt sophomore is the top ranked player in college golf on the top-ranked team in college golf with a scoring average of 68.35. His worst round of the year so far is 72. As promising as a prospect can be, and now gets his chance to show it on the game’s biggest stage. He and Bennett are your two favorites to win low amateur.
72. Danny Willett
Age: 35 World Ranking: 91 Masters appearances: 8
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2016
Lost a tournament in the most brutal fashion possible in the fall, three-putting from five feet to hand the Fortinet Championship to Max Homa. Game fell off a cliff after his 2016 victory but he’s steadily fought his way back and is playing well enough to keep his PGA Tour card. Comes in off five consecutive made cuts.
71. Kevin Kisner
Age: 39 World Ranking: 48 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters Finish: T21, 2019
His relative lack of distance means he has to have everything else dialed to compete with the world’s best. He’s made some significant changes in the last six months, splitting with longtime swing coach John Tillery and trying the cross-handed chipping method at the match play. Kiz hasn’t been sharp this year and the recent results are not pretty: four missed cuts and a 75th place finish in his last five starts. He hasn’t broken 70 on the PGA Tour since February and now goes to a golf course that has only gotten longer and longer, which does not play into his hands. Born and raised and resides just across the South Carolina border from Augusta in Aiken, S.C.
70. Kevin Na
Age: 39 World Ranking: 92 Masters appearances: 11
Best Masters Finish: T12, 2021
Enjoyed his best stretch as a pro in his late 30s, winning four times between July 2018 and January 2021, making the 2021 Tour Championship and then promptly cashing in with LIV Golf. Notched his first top-10 in a LIV event in Tucson, so that’s something. He also has a sneaky good recent history at Augusta, going T13/T12/T14 in the last three Masters. One of the harder players to forecast this week. This could absolutely be his last-ever major championship appearance.
69. Cameron Champ
Age: 27 World Ranking: 194 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters Finish: T10, 2022
Had to double-check how he got into the field as his name doesn’t pop up much on big-time leaderboards these days. The answer: he finished tied for 10th at last year’s Masters, and he’s finished T32 or better in each of his four Masters starts. Has the power to subjugate any golf course, and, it should be noted, has three wins and is still just 27 years old. But he simply has not developed the type of well-rounded and consistent game necessary to cut it against the game’s best. Comes in off three consecutive missed cuts—but again, he seems to find some birdies every year at the Masters.
68. Brian Harman
Age: 36 World Ranking: 28 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters Finish: T-12, 2021
Two runner-up finishes in the fall have him flying high in the FedEx Cup and world ranking, but you won’t find many who believe Brian Harman is the 28th best player in the world. (Data Golf has him at 47th, probably a better indicator). His best finish in seven full-field stroke play events this year is a T-32 back in January. One of seemingly dozens of Georgia Bulldogs in the field, he’s made the cut in two of his four Masters appearances. Two top-10 finishes in 26 career major starts.
67. Francesco Molinari
Age: 40 World Ranking: 125 Masters appearances: 11
Best Masters Finish: T-5, 2019
He’s in the last year of his exemptions into the majors for winning the ‘18 Open Championship, and he needs to turn it around quickly if he’s to continue playing the three stateside ones. There could well be a 30 for 30 on his back-nine collapse in the 2019 Masters—not just for how integral it was to the Tiger Woods story, but because it began a precipitous fall. He’s had a few good weeks since, most recently a T14 at Bay Hill, but he simply has not been the same player since that fateful Sunday.
66. Scott Stallings
Age: 38 World Ranking: 61 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters Finish: T27, 2012
After a hard-to-believe mishap sent his invite to the wrong Scott Stallings, the right one did indeed get that famous piece of paper and ensure his first trip back to Augusta since 2014. Caught a little heater last summer and capped it off with a solo second at the BMW Championship, which got him into the Tour Championship and all four majors the following year. Still searching for his first top 10 this season.
65. Bubba Watson
Age: 44 World Ranking: 215 Masters appearances: 14
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2012, 2014
The Range Goats captain is a two-time Masters champion (and Georgia Bulldog) and, as such, etched into the fabric of the club. Missed most of last season with a knee injury but has returned for the first three LIV events of the year—he’s finished 40th in two of them and 28th in the other. No bueno. Still, we have to factor his Masters history into the forecast. At least a little bit.
64. Charl Schwartzel
Age: 38 World Ranking: 209 Masters appearances: 13
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2011
Will live in the history books forever not just for his four-birdie finish to win the 2011 Masters; he’s the first-ever individual champion for LIV Golf, winning their debut event last summer in London for by far the biggest payday of his career. He’s been T26 or better in each of the last three Masters including a third career Masters top 10 last year. Did not show well in LIV’s first two events but did fare better last week in Orlando.
63. J.T. Poston
Age: 29 World Ranking: 49 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: CUT, 2020
Won for the second time on the PGA Tour at last summer’s John Deere Classic. He’s been pretty hit or miss the year, with seven top 25 finishes in 14 starts to go along with five missed cuts. Statistically, he’s been bang average—he’s gained a total of .213 shots on the field in his 37 measured rounds, for an average of .006. Best finish in eight career major starts is a T40 at the 2021 U.S. Open, and he missed the weekend in his previous Masters appearance.
62. Phil Mickelson
Age: 52 World Ranking: Masters appearances: 29
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2004, 2006, 2010
Makes his return to the Masters after skipping last year’s in the fallout of his “scary motherfuckers” comments. Phil has lost a ton of weight and insists his game isn’t far off but, at 52, it’s hard not to view this recent drop in form as potentially permanent. Has just one top-10 finish in nine LIV Golf starts and has finished 27th, 32nd and 41st thus far this season. Tournament organizers did him a solid by not scheduling him for a pre-tournament press conference; we only wish they would’ve included him wearing a GoPro at the Champions Dinner as part of the deal. If there’s a course where a guy in his 50s can summon old magic it’s Augusta, and it’s wide enough to tolerate his foul balls. What a scene it would be if he could make a run. Playing in his 30th(!) Masters.
61. Thomas Pieters
Age: 31 World Ranking: 43 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T4, 2017
A different cat, he didn’t love traveling throughout the U.S.—said on the Fore Play podcast that he got deeply homesick and missed the camaraderie on the DP World Tour. Thus, when LIV called he jumped on the opportunity to sign a last-minute deal just in time for the 2023 season. A former can’t-miss kid, he won the 2012 NCAA individual title at Riviera and finished T4 on his Masters debut in 2017. Knows full well that this could be his last Masters, and he’s accepted that reality because he feels what he’s doing now makes him happier. Hard to argue with that.
60. Bryson DeChambeau
Age: 29 World Ranking:149 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: T-21, 2016
His bodily transformation and lightning-rod personality dominated headlines for two years, but it’s been rather quiet on the Bryson front since he made the move to LIV Golf last summer. Said at the beginning of this year that he’d revamped his diet because, in stunning news, housing half a dozen protein shakes per day wasn’t great for his gut health. Was once a walking billboard for a comically large roster of sponsors but these days the only logo you’ll see on him is the Crushers’. He has just two top-10 finishes in eight starts on LIV Golf, both of which were T10s. Famously said that Augusta National is a par-67 for him given his ability to drive the 3rd green and reach all four par 5s in two, but he still hasn’t been able to better the T-21 he posted to win low amateur honors in 2016. Missed the cut at last year’s Masters but did finish T-8 at the Open Championship, and without that finish he’d have slid even more in the world rankings than he has.
59. Gary Woodland
Age: 38 World Ranking: 99 Masters appearances: 10
Best Masters Finish: T24, 2011
Feels like he’s a constant topic of conversation on Golf Gambling Twitter, which means he’s at least showing signs of a resurgence. He can be maddening to watch play golf—he seems to play so much better than he scores. Case in point: he ranks 13th in strokes gained off the tee, 17th in strokes gained approach, 200th in strokes gained around the green and 196th in putting. And now he heads to Augusta National, where he’s yet to better his T24 debut in 9 tries since. Let’s hope he hits it really, really close.
58. Billy Horschel
Age: 36 World Ranking: 24 Masters appearances: 8
Best Masters Finish: T17, 2016
Finished T4 at this 2013 U.S. Open in his first major championship start as a pro and has failed to finish inside the top 15 in his 34 tries since. Not playing particularly well at the moment, he missed the cut in three of his last four stroke-play starts before going 3-0-0 in group play at the match play to advance to the round of 16. He’s 145th in strokes gained tee to green this year. I’d avoid him this week.
57. Alex Noren
Age: 40 World Ranking: 42 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T62, 2022
The grittiest of grinders, he’s often the first one on the range and last to leave, still working hard at it at 40 years old. Had some really solid finishes bookending the New Year with a T4 in Houston, a T2 at the DP World Tour Championship and a T5 in Abu Dhabi, which is why he’s so high in the world ranking. The problem is, he hits almost exclusively cuts—if you’re familiar with his dramatic pre-shot rehearsal, you’ll know how hard the Swede moves left through impact—and Augusta tends to favor those who can shape it right to left. As such, he’s got two missed cuts and a T62 in three Masters appearances.
56. Sepp Straka
Age: 29 World Ranking: 32 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: T30, 2022
Needs a good year to become the first Diet Coke-drinking, Georgia-raised, Southern-drawl having member of the European Ryder Cup team. (His German is flawless, too). Two runner ups in 2022 pushed him way up the world ranking to make that a possibility. Has not played well at all this year outside of a T5 at the Honda Classic, the tournament he won, so clearly he loves that golf course. Made the cut in his debut Masters last year.
55. Sergio Garcia
Age: 43 World Ranking: 153 Masters appearances: 23
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2017
Has played nicely in LIV Golf events, but it’s hard to contextualize what that says about his game at the moment. Making his return to the Masters as the captain of the Fireballs for the first time, and he’ll be rubbing shoulders with Rory McIlroy for the first time after saying Rory’s “lack of maturity” ended their friendship. He runs hot, and he’ll certainly feel some extra motivation to play well this week given the happenings of the last few years. Has missed the cut in 13 of his 21 starts in major championships since winning the 2017 Masters, including three of the last four years at Augusta.
54. Jason Kokrak
Age: 37 World Ranking: 83 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T14, 2022
Won three times in a 13-month stretch and then cashed in on that success by signing a deal with LIV Golf, which surely provided the financial security he’s wanted through golf. Hasn’t done much of note since making the jump and desperately needs a strong showing if he’s to get some precious world ranking points and get into the rest of the year’s major championships. Though, given his prior comments, I’m not sure he’d be too bothered if he didn’t.
53. Mackenzie Hughes
Age: 32 World Ranking: 54 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T40, 2021
Don’t let a strong match play showing distract you from the facts: his last five stroke-play starts have yielded three missed cuts, a T50 and a T61. The Canadian does have two wins in his career, and he’s often a threat in weaker-field events on gentler setups when he gets hot with the putter, but he wouldn’t seem to have the ball striking chops to hang with the world’s best for four consecutive days in a major championship.
52. Harold Varner III
Age: 32 World Ranking: 57 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: T23, 2022
Another LIV Golfer who’s staring at the very real possibility of this being his last Masters, as he’s in this via his year-end world ranking. Been middle of the pack in all three LIV starts this year and there’s really not much more to go off here—he’s played just four tournaments since August. Showed nicely in his Masters debut last year with a T23.
51. Russell Henley
Age: 33 World Ranking: 37 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: T11, 2017
Ended a five-year winless drought with a victory at Mayakoba in the fall. That’s his only top 10 on the season in 11 starts, and his putting has been his Achilles’ heel throughout his career—he ranks 189th in strokes gained this year, so it’s more of the same—and guys who don’t put well don’t win green jackets.
50. Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Age: 31 World Ranking: 41 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: CUT, 2022
He’s won twice on tour, both at the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch in Texas. Has missed the weekend in six of his eight major championship appearances but he’s a much-improved player over the last couple years and now sits inside the world’s top 50.
49. Seamus Power
Age: 36 World Ranking: 35 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: T27, 2022
It wasn’t too long ago he was toiling on the mini tours; he’s now a two-time winner on the PGA Tour with a great chance of making the European Ryder Cup team, particularly so if Luke Donald and co. turn their back on the LIVers. Absolutely feasted on the fall season, winning in Bermuda and then going T3 at Mayakoba and T5 at the RSM Classic, so his seventh-place standings in the FedEx Cup is admittedly a bit inflated. Last two stroke-play starts haven’t been great—he was 12 over for four days at Bay Hill and missed the cut badly at the Players.
48. Taylor Moore
Age: 29 World Ranking: 50 Masters appearances: First
Late-ish bloomer who didn’t get his PGA Tour card until 28. Spent a few years on the Korn Ferry Tour, his raise hamstrung by a few near-misses, COVID, and a collapsed lung that sidelined him for months. Arkansas grad has been offered a trip to Augusta National a few times but always declined, believing that his first time playing the golf course should be in preparation for the Masters. A first PGA Tour victory at the Valspar Championship, where he went 64 for 64 putting inside 7 feet, ensured that he’ll indeed get his dream first look at golf’s Mecca.
47. Adam Svensson
Age: 29 World Ranking: 55 Masters appearances: First
Part of a pretty strong Canadian contingent on tour these days. Won the RSM Classic in the fall to get into the Masters, and this will mark his first start in a major championship. Cut out alcohol from his life when he lost his PGA Tour card in 2021 and rededicated himself to the sport, so driving through those gates will surely be extremely gratifying.
46. Ryan Fox
Age: 36 World Ranking: 36 Masters appearances: First
The Kiwi is a rare breed in golf these days: a late-bloomer who’s playing his best ball in his mid 30s. Won twice on the DP World Tour last year to vault into the top 50 in the world rankings, which has gotten him into a number of events in the U.S. this year. Took T14 at Bay Hill, T27 at the Masters and T17 at the Match Play, so he’s clearly not having too much trouble adjusting. “This is the dream, right, to get on the PGA Tour, play against the best players in the world,” he told me at the Players. “If you asked me two or three years ago when I was struggling, I would’ve told you I’m quite happy in Europe. But after last year, I wanna be out here.” A few more solid finishes could get him his card. Absolutely mashes the ball with a very homemade swing, and he could absolutely feast on the par 5s.
45. Abraham Ancer
Age: 32 World Ranking: 30 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T13, 2020
Mexico’s top player was No. 20 in the world when he made the jump to LIV Golf, making him one of their higher-quality signings at the time of the deal. He’s mostly avoided any blowback for his decision given his reputation as something of a Renaissance Man with a full plate of off-course pursuits. His best finish in eight LIV starts thus far is an eighth-place in Boston but he did start the year with a win the Asian Tour’s Saudi International, which is how he’s avoided the dramatic slide down the world rankings that most of his fellow LIVers have experienced. That, and he was solid in both majors he played in after making the jump last year—T9 at the PGA Championship and T11 at the Open. Missed the cut in last year’s Masters.
44. Si Woo Kim
Age: 27 World Ranking: 39 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: T12, 2021
Still just 27, he’s making his seventh Masters start and picked up his fourth PGA Tour win at the Sony Open to start the year. Showed some serious fire at the Presidents Cup, going 3-1 overall for the week and taking out Justin Thomas 1 up in the first singles match on Sunday. This has been his most consistent year on tour yet, with just one missed cut in 12 starts, and he’s a very respectable 22nd in strokes gained overall. Looking for his first top 10 in a major in 24 tries and we see no reason why it can’t be this week, as he’s made the weekend in five straight Masters appearances.
43. Adrian Meronk
Age: 29 World Ranking: 56 Masters appearances: First
The 6’6” Pole won twice on the DP World TOur, including a very timely W in December, to finish inside the top 50 (only just) at year’s end. He’s been playing more in the U.S. with the goal of getting his card through non-member points and made the cut at Riviera, the Honda Classic (T14) and lost a three-man playoff to get into the knockout rounds at match play. One of two Eastern Tennessee State University alumni in the field alongside Seamus Power.
42. Harris English
Age: 33 World Ranking: 44 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T-21, 2021
Played the best golf of his career in 2021 to earn his way onto that year’s Ryder Cup team only for a long-standing hip issue to flare up at the worst time possible. Finally bit the bullet and got surgery to replace a torn labrum in his right hip that had been an issue since his days at Georgia. Still working out the kinks and hasn’t been as consistent as he was pre-surgery, but a T-2 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational catapulted him far enough up the world rankings to get back to the Masters. This will be just his fourth appearance at Augusta, which feels low given how long he’s been relevant on the PGA Tour.
41. Tiger Woods
Age: 47 World Ranking: 1001 Masters appearances: 24
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019
Where to begin? In hindsight, his one-under 71 to open last year’s Masters looks even more preposterous: a man on one leg, who hadn’t played a competitive tournament in 18 months, making the cut on the hardest walking golf course on Tour. That week took a ton out of the 15-time major winner, and he’s played in just three events since. Because his game gets dissected with forensic-level analysis every time he tees it up, it feels somewhat lost that he’s made the cut in three of the four events he’s played in since the accident, all against elite fields. Riviera was his most promising week yet—he shot better over the two weekend rounds than he did over the first two rounds, and a Saturday four-under 67 was remarkable in how easy it looked. It had you wondering: can this guy actually win again? The problem is he hasn’t played since, his body keeping him out of the Players, and he simply can’t play his way int competitive-sharpness shape like he did in 2018 and 2019. Arrived for his customary chip-and-putt stroll with Joey LaCava on Sunday and, by all accounts, looks solid. But there’s a long time to go before this golf tournament starts, and an even-longer time to go before it finishes, and we’ve yet to see proof that he can string four good rounds together.
40. Keith Mitchell
Age: 31 World Ranking: 46 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: T43, 2019
Outfit-wise, he’d blend in quite well in the 1985 Masters field, and we mean that as a compliment. Sweet-singing Georgia grad—yes, another one—can ball strike with anyone and had a great West Coast swing, taking fourth at Pebble Beach and fifth at Riviera, two very demanding tracks. Ranks seventh on tour in strokes gained off the tee and first in the more old-school “total driving” stat.
39. Tyrrell Hatton
Age: 31 World Ranking: 17 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: T18, 2021
A unicorn of sorts in professional golf: the ultra-rare player who has criticized Augusta National. Said last year that he doesn’t enjoy playing the course at all: "Yeah, but you can hit good shots here and not get any reward for it," Hatton said after shooting 79-80 on the weekend and pretending to shoot the 13th green with a machine-gun . "It's unfair at times. I don't agree with that." Played extremely well in the Florida Swing, finishing fourth at Bay Hill and second at the Players, and his ball striking has been terrific—he ranks inside the top 10 in both strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained around the green. He has all the game to compete at Augusta, but it’s always harder to roll with the punches in a major when you hate the golf course you’re playing on.
38. Kurt Kitayama
Age: 30 World Ranking: 20 Masters appearances: First
Overcame a triple bogey to emerge from a stacked leaderboard and win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a life-changing victory and his first on the PGA Tour. He’s one of the shortest players in the field at 5’7” but he’s built like a running back—Xander Schauffele shared that his boys call him Quadzilla—and is thus among the longer players on the PGA Tour. Missed the cut in his only stroke-play start since Bay Hill but was surely running on fumes. Spent most of his professional career in Europe, where he won three times, so he’s played the other three majors at least twice each. But this ain’t the other three majors
37. Min Woo Lee
Age: 24 World Ranking: 47 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: T14, 2022
He’s long been identified as one of the most promising up-and-comers and the Players Championship felt like his proper debut on a world stage—he was solo second heading into Sunday before a four-over 76 saw him fall from contention. Still, that was good enough to get him inside the world’s top 50 and snag one of the last invites to the Masters—an invitation he showed off while wearing some David Duval shades. There’s a star quality to this kid with his world-class stingers and his athletic and modern swing that produces cruisy ball speeds in the high 180s. Tied the first-nine scoring record at Augusta with a six-under 30 on Sunday of last year’s Masters only to come home in 40.
36. Adam Scott
Age: 42 World Ranking: 38 Masters appearances: 21
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2013
Couldn’t beat the Fore (Three) Man Scramble at The Yards, so factor that into your analysis as you will. Didn’t play a single fall event as, at this point in his career, he likes to take an extended trip back home to Australia. Made the cut in each of his six starts since but has failed to produce even a single top-20, which he’s so far down the FedEx Cup standings at 139. Has just one top-10 at the Masters since becoming the first Aussie to win it in 2013, but he hasn’t missed the weekend at Augusta since 2009.
35. Louis Oosthuizen
Age: 40 World Ranking: 120 Masters appearances: 14
Best Masters Finish: 2, 2012
Said at his introductory LIV press conference that he was already thinking about calling it quits on the PGA Tour, so you do wonder what the motivation levels are like at this point in his career. He’s always been a guy who’s preferred driving a tractor around his farm to playing, and now with all the money in the world, he can certainly afford to take his foot off the golf gas and onto the tractor pedal. And yet, it was just two years ago that he went T2-2-T3 in the year’s final three majors. He did, however, come back down to earth with a WD in last year’s Masters, a T60 in the PGA and missed cuts in both the U.S. Open and Open Championship.
34. Mito Pereira
Age: 28 World Ranking: 53 Masters appearances: First
LIV’s marquee offseason signing blew the PGA Championship in dramatic fashion, forgetting how to swing a golf club and block-slicing a drive into the water for an eventual double bogey. Netflix, of course, was all over it, and he was one of the stars of season one of Full Swing. You do wonder if he’d still be on the PGA Tour had that ball stopped short of the water, though he’s said teaming up with his compatriot Joaquin Niemann (and all that money) was too good to pass up. He’s into this major by way off his T3 at Southern Hills and banked some nice work ranking points in the winter, finishing runner up at the Dunlop Phoenix and T6 at the Saudi International, and has played mostly well in the three LIV events.
33. Tom Kim
Age: 20 World Ranking: 19th Masters appearances: First
Only the true golf sickos (not to brag) had heard of him last year, back when he went primarily by Joohyung. He then shot to prominence over the summer, first with a T-3 against a stacked field at the Genesis Scottish Open then with a victory at the Wyndham Championship to get himself into the FedEx Cup playoffs. His performance at the Presidents Cup turned him into a super star—for his golf, yes, but more so the unbridled joy with which he plays golf. Has missed just two cuts in his first 22 PGA Tour starts and now gets his very well-earned debut in the biggest golf tournament in the world.
32. Corey Conners
Age: 31 World Ranking: 28 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters Finish: T-6, 2022
Don’t tell anyone, but he’s a bit of an Augusta specialist—dating back to 2021, he’s finished T10, T8 and T6 last year. A connoisseur of the push draw, he’s a world-class ball striker but can get ice cold with the putter, as those who watched his painful showing in the Presidents Cup will remember. Comes in off a win at the Valero Texas Open, where he holed a number of key putts down the stretch on Sunday. Hits it so well that he really doesn’t miss many cuts—just five in 25 starts last season, and four in the season before that.
31. Keegan Bradley
Age: 36 World Ranking: 22 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: T-22, 2015
Always been an excellent ball striker, and his recent work with putting guru Phil Kenyon has revitalized his career. Won the Zozo Championship back in October, the most fall event of all fall events that aired while you were sleeping and/or locked in on football. He’s not coming in on the best run of form—missed the cut in two of his three stroke-play starts and went 1-2 at the match play. That, believe it or not, was his first win in the WGC-Match Play in 11 appearances. Has made the cut in five of his six Masters starts but hasn’t been near the lead much. This place, perhaps more than any other, will test his newfound putting prowess.
30. Matt Fitzpatrick
Age: 28 World Ranking: 15 Masters appearances: 8
Best Masters Finish: T-7, 2016
Enjoyed the year of his life in 2022, winning the U.S. Open in dramatic fashion, but he hasn’t been the same player since. It’s been quite the adjustment to life in the spotlight and far more demands of his time and energy, and while he’s tried to downplay the severity of whatever neck problem he’s having, you do wonder if it’s impacting him more than he lets on. Has missed the cut in three of his last four stroke-play starts and has broken 70 just twice in his last 10 starts, both of which were 69s. The culprit has been his iron play, which was a weakness in 2021 before he improved dramatically in 2022. It’s regressed this year as he ranks outside the top 170 in strokes gained approach, losing nearly half a shot to the field each round, and that’s simply not going to cut it if he’s to remain a top-15 player. Been such a consistent performer throughout his career—he’s been ranked in the top 50 for more than six years running—so odds are this is just a blip in the road. But it is indeed a blip.
29. Tommy Fleetwood
Age: 32 World Ranking: 27 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: T-14, 2022
Broke a three-year winless drought with a victory at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa last November, but still chasing that first PGA Tour victory. Had a good chance at it a few weeks back at the Valspar but, as has been the frustrating trend, he couldn’t summon the birdies down the stretch. Ranks 11th in strokes gained overall for the wraparound season, so the game is in a solid spot. Made the cut in each of his last five Masters appearances with a career-best T-14 last year.
28. Hideki Matsuyama
Age: 31 World Ranking: 21 Masters appearances: 11
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2021
Became the first Japanese man to win a major championship in 2021, then won on home soil later that year for good measure at the Zozo Championship. No surprise, then, that he’s an icon in his native country even if the recent results have been pretty unremarkable—he’s been dealing with a neck injury for what feels like forever and withdrew after two rounds of the match play to rest it. Looked fine at last week’s Valero Texas Open, though, and he has an excellent record at Augusta with seven finishes of 19th or better in his last eight tries. His so-so play this year and the injury concerns will scare off plenty of gamblers, and he’s a great value play.
27. Talor Gooch
Age: 31 World Ranking: 58 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: T14, 2022
Might’ve been the most surprising name of the initial LIV Golf signess—surely didn’t command the $100 million+ that the big names got, was 30 years old and steadily ascending the PGA Tour, having reached the Tour Championship in 2021 and posting a solid finish at last year’s Masters. He’s been 14th or better in seven of his nine LIV starts, made the cut in three of the four majors last year and remains a fantastic player no matter the tour he’s playing on.
26. Patrick Reed
Age: 32 World Ranking: 70 Masters appearances: 9
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2018
He’s been active since last major season—both on the golf course and in the courtroom. Played three times in Asia prior to the start of the LIV season and filed three lawsuits (I think, it’s hard to keep track), one of which resulted in his lawyers serving Rory McIlroy a subpoena on Christmas Eve. Rory didn’t take too kindly to that, leading to the tee flick heard round the world. He might not say so outwardly, but he tends to play better amid drama—he finished second in the event where TeeGate happened—and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him up there come Sunday afternoon, especially after a nice showing at the LIV Orlando event. His short-game remains world class and he has two other top 10s at Augusta in addition to his victory.
25. Shane Lowry
Age: 35 World Ranking: 23 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters Finish: T3, 2022
He’s an old-school player with a golden set of hands, and watching him navigate his way around Augusta en route to a third-place finish last year was a delight. Won the BMW PGA Championship, the DP World Tour’s flagship event, last fall but has been mostly snuck in neutral on the PGA Tour in 2023. The culprit has mostly been the putter; he’s losing nearly half a shot to the field each round and ranks 170th on tour. He’ll want it as windy and firm as possible so this tournament turns into a scramble-fest, where he could shine.
24. Chris Kirk
Age: 37 World Ranking: 34 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T20, 2014
One of the better stories from the non-elevated events was him going for his first win in nearly seven years and first since he stepped away from the game to sort his issues with alcohol and depression, going shot-for-shot with 34-year-old rookie Eric Cole down the stretch at the Honda. Kirk came out victorious for win No. 5 and the Atlanta resident and UGA grad is back to Augusta for the first time in seven years. Made the cut in both his major starts last year including a top five at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills. Leads the tour in proximity on approaches from 125-150 yards and has been very solid with the irons all year.
23. Joaquin Niemann
Age: 24 World Ranking: 26 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T35, 2022
There are plenty of players (and Twitter warriors) who like to say that any animosity between PGA Tour players and LIV golfers is a media creation. Then there’s Joaquin Niemann, who recently told Golf Magazine that he’s extra excited for the majors because “they all hate us.” Left behind a highly promising trajectory on the PGA Tour to join the Latino contingent on LIV Golf—and he brought his countryman and pal, Mito Pereira, along with him after the Presidents Cup. For as impressive as he’s been in non-majors, he’s yet to post a single top 20 finish in 15 major championship starts. By his own admission, he’s never been motivated to change that than this week.
22. Viktor Hovland
Age: 25 World Ranking: 9 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish:T21, 2021
Feels like we haven’t heard all that much from him lately, but he’s quietly putting together a solid year. Has made the cut in all 10 starts and has eight top-25 finishes in those 10, including a T10 at Bay Hill and a T3 at the Players, so it’s trending in the right direction. Weakness has been his chipping throughout his career and while he’s made strides both technically and on-course, the ultra-tight lies and slippery greens at Augusta will be a proper test for just how far he’s come. He hardly ever misses cuts—just 10 total in 85 career PGA Tour starts, and one in 11 major starts—so there’s definitely some value here in formats where making the cut is crucial.
21. Sungjae Im
Age: 25 World Ranking: 18 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: T2, 2020
Already over $3 million in earnings for the year despite not having a proper chance to win yet. He’s been really consistent, making 12 of 13 cuts and racking up points with eight top-25 finishes. Gaining ground in every key strokes gained category and he loves himself some Augusta National—finished joint second in his first try in the November Masters in 2020 and was T8 last year. Overcame an opening-round 75 at the Players to finish T-6, highlighted by a Saturday 64 that was just one off the course record, and he looked solid in just barely missing the knockout rounds at the match play. Won’t back down if he gets a chance down the stretch.
20. Tom Hoge
Age: 33 World Ranking: 25 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: T-39, 2022
The top of the strokes gained approach statistic is always a who’s who of the top players in the world—Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, Jon Rahm and Max Homa are 2-5 on the list. But they’re all looking up at one Tom Hoge, of Fargo, North Daktoa. He won his lone PGA Tour title at Pebble Beach last year and finished T3 at TPC Sawgrass, two of the more demanding approach-play courses in the world, which checks out. He’s No. 25 in the world despite losing shots off the tee, but Augusta’s wide enough to mask some of that driver shakiness. As you might be able to tell, I like his chances for a strong showing.
19. Sahith Theegala
Age: 25 World Ranking: 29 Masters appearances: First
As genuine and down-to-earth as they come, he shined in “Full Swing” and on the golf course in a very impressive rookie season. Feels he’s driving it better than he ever has, stats be damned, and he’s been thinking about this week since the moment he holed out his last hole at the match play. ALready made two scouting trips to Augusta and loves the course—it rewards creativity, which he’s got in abundance, and it’s wide enough to keep his occasional wide miss in play. Still looking for his first PGA Tour victory, and while getting it at Augusta seems a big ask, we love his chances for a strong showing this week.
18. Will Zalatoris
Age: 26 World Ranking: 8 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters Finish: 2, 2021
It’s a classic case of Data vs. Eye Test. The eye test tells you that a man with a cringe-inducing putting stroke can win the masters. The Data tells you that he doesn’t miss shorties that much more than anyone else, that he’s only a slightly below-average putter, and that he nearly won the freakin’ Masters in his first try. He’s in the hyper-elite tier of iron players, and that pinpoint accuracy leads to birdies in major championships—he’s got six finishes of T8 or better in his last nine major championship starts. That’s serious stuff. Trust the data, at least as far as a top-10 finish goes.
17. Brooks Koepka
Age: 32 World Ranking: 111 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters Finish: T2, 2019
His remarkable run in major championships came to an end last year, when he missed the cut in two and finished 55th in the other two. Feels like he’s been saying “this is the healthiest I’ve been in years” for a few years now, and he’s been saying similar things thus far on the LIV Golf circuit, but backed it up last week with a win in Orlando. Now has sneaky won two of his last six starts though there have been some clunkers in between, mostly a 31st in Mayakoba and a 29th in Tucson. Netflix’s “Full Swing” showed the depths of his swing troubles and how miserable playing poorly made him. Told a British newspaper that he’s had this week scheduled as one of the four times he gets a chance to show his former colleagues what he can do, and he’s been in contention to win majors more than anyone else in the past 5 years. Would it truly be a shock to see him back in his comfort zone come Sunday afternoon?
16. Dustin Johnson
Age: 38 World Ranking: 68 Masters appearances: 12
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2020
It was his defection that threw gas into the already simmering schism in professional golf. DJ’s decision to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, as a perennial top-10 player and multiple major champion in his 30s, gave the upstart tour a massive boost and plenty of other world-class players followed. If Joaquin Niemann’s on one end of the spectrum, wanting to beat the PGA Tour guys especially badly to prove a point, DJ would be the other—he hasn’t spoken negatively about the PGA Tour or its players, nor does anyone seem particularly upset with him for leaving because of how honest he was about his motivation$$$ for doing so. He was the best player on LIV in 2022 and won their season-long points race but got off to a meh start this year, with a 37th-place finish in Mexico and a 13th in Tucson. As such, there’s no longer a super strong case to make for him as one of the world’s finest, but he can flip that narrative on its head with one hot week. He’s got five top 10s in 12 career Masters starts including the record-setting performance in 2020, even if his scoring record deserves a pretty sizable asterisk given the conditions of the course in November. Took T-6 in his last major start at St. Andrews.
15. Justin Rose
Age: 42 World Ranking: 36 Masters appearances: 17
Best Masters Finish: 2, 2017
He still thinks about his near-miss in 2017, and he’s said multiple times that this is the tournament he wants to win above any other. Had a resurgent 2023 after a few years in the wilderness—won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, finished T6 at the Players and ranks 20th in strokes gained overall for the season. After years of an on-again off-again relationship with coach Sean Foley he’s now working with Mark Blackburn. Why? He loved the way Max Homa swings it, and Max Homa’s coach is Mark Blackburn. That’s quite the compliment for Mr. Homa from a former world No. 1, major champion and Olympic gold medalist. Missed the cut at last year’s Masters but has five finishes of T12 or better in the last eight Masters. All signs point to a strong showing.
14. Justin Thomas
Age: 29 World Ranking: 11 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters Finish: 4, 2020
He’s the type to pay attention to such things, so dropping out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in six years will surely sting. It’s not been anything horrific—he’s made the cut in all eight of his starts on the wraparound season—but he has just two top 10s, including a T10 at the Valspar in his last start, and hasn’t really had a chance to win. That’s not going to keep pace with this new Big 3, and he raised some eyebrows by skipping the match play in favor of extra preparation at home. Definitely fits the bill for someone who’d play Augusta well and has top-10 finishes in each of the last two Masters. Really hasn’t been much chatter about him leading up to this week, which should inflate his odds a bit.
13. Cameron Young
Age: 25 World Ranking: 14 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: CUT, 2022
Blessed with excellent speed and balance, he’s got an electric game that produces birdies in bunches. Can play big-boy golf courses with the best of them—he nearly stole the Open Championship at St. Andrews, almost solely with his driver, and took T-3 at the PGA Championship. And yet you still feel he’s not a finished product; missed the cut in the year’s other two majors and recently hired Webb Simpson’s old caddie, Paul Tesori. Their first week together produced a solo second at the match play, including an ability-affirming victory over an in-form Rory McIlroy. If it’s soft, he absolutely has a chance.
12. Max Homa
Age: 32 World Ranking: 6 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters Finish: T48, 2022
Six’s are wild—he arrives at his fourth Masters as a six-time PGA Tour winner and the No. 6 ranked player in the world. As such, simply making the cut at a major no longer qualifies as a good week. There are legitimate expectations given how well he’s played tough courses and how rock-solid he’s been when in contention…at regular PGA Tour events. He’s still missed more cuts (8) than he’s made in majors (5), and his next top ten in one of the big four would be his first. He couldn’t have asked for a better run-up, with two victories already this season and top-14 finishes in six of his last seven starts, including a win, a runner-up and a third-place finish. Ranks third on tour in strokes gained overall, fifth in strokes gained approach and 10th in strokes gained putting. He’ll be a popular pick this week—he’s always a popular pick—and few would object to seeing him slipping on that coat.
11. Sam Burns
Age: 26 World Ranking: 10 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters Finish: CUT, 2022
Played some nice ball out west until he went through what amounts to an equipment nightmare for these famously finicky pros—his driver failed a compliance test at Riviera, which sent him into a panic. “It was like I was starting over—all that confidence I had coming in was just, like, gone,” he said last week on the Fore Play podcast. He finally found another driver he liked at the Valspar and worked hard at his swing with longtime coach Brad Pullin early that week. It’s paid off—he finished 6th at Innisbrook and beat good pal Scottie Scheffler en route to winning the WGC-Match Play, his fifth PGA tour victory in 22 months. Said he felt his debut Masters week was a bit rushed last year and vowed to move a bit slower in his second go ‘round Augusta. Ranked inside the top 30 in strokes gained approach in each of the past two seasons but sits outside the top 170 this year, though those numbers won’t include his week in Austin. Still, iron play is of utmost importance around Augusta, which is why the oddsmakers still aren’t huge on his chances despite his ranking and his recent W.
10. Cameron Smith
Age: 29 World Ranking: 5 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: T2, 2020
Won four times in 2022, including a remarkable come-from-behind victory to win the 150th Open at St. Andrews. He then departed for LIV Golf, making the Australian the league’s top signing in terms of world ranking—he was No. 2 in the world when he made the jump—and poking a serious hole in the theory that LIV is just for past-their-prime guys wanting a payday. His game, however, is not in very good shape—he comes in off a 26th-place finish in Tucson and a 29th in Orlando, both closer to Sihwan Kim than to Danny Lee and Brooks Koepka. His ball striking has been rather erratic, but perhaps Augusta is just what he needs at this moment: a golf course that begs for shot-shaping, that allows him to tap into his creative side and show off that short-game genius. He’s got an excellent Masters record with four top-10 finishes in six starts. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win, wouldn’t be a surprise to see him T45.
9. Jordan Spieth
Age: 29 World Ranking: 16 Masters appearances: 9
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2015
Last year’s Masters felt a low point—his game sputtering, he missed the cut in the Masters for the first time. He then won the next week. Such is the Jordan Spieth experience, which rolls into its second decade at Augusta National. His history here is well-known: a historic performance in 2015, a flagrant collapse in 2016, a final-round 64 in 2018 and a helluva run in 2022. With three finishes of T6 or better in his last five stroke-play starts, the game is certainly in a good enough place to end a six-year major drought and win No. 4. That solid form, combined with his deep connection with the course, has him as the oddsmakers’ top player in the non-Rory/Scottie/Rahm category.
8. Patrick Cantlay
Age: 31 World Ranking: 4th Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: T9, 2019
He’s the highest ranked player outside the Scottie-Rahm-Rory tier—it’s not past time to make good on that ranking by showing up in major championships. He’s an absolute killer in “regular” PGA Tour events, for sure, but for a player of his caliber and reputation, having just one top-10 finish in your last 13 major starts is simply not good enough. He’s checked all the boxes so far this year and comes in off four consecutive top-20 finishes, highlighted by a solo third at Riviera. Doesn’t get enough credit for how long and straight he hits it and should absolutely be in the conversation for best drivers of the ball in the world—he ranks second on tour in strokes gained off the tee. Held the lead for a hot second at the 2019 Masters before bogeys on 16 and 17 doomed his chances.
7. Collin Morikawa
Age: 26 World Ranking: 12 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters Finish: 5, 2022
Said last year that he learned he can play “Collin golf” and still win the Masters—meaning he can trust his cut and doesn’t have to try to shape shots a certain way just because Tiger Woods did. It worked well last year—he was one half of that electric final-round pairing with Rory McIlroy, and while he couldn’t match Rory’s 64, a closing 67 for a top-five finish definitely didn’t suck. Put in major work and sought outside help on both his chipping (Parker McLachlin) and his putting (Stephen Sweeney) to try to raise his short game to the level of his long game. The early returns were excellent—he built a massive lead at the Sentry Tournament of Champions before a back-nine collapse and finished solo third at Torrey Pines and T6 at Riviera. Bounced back from a missed cut Bay Hill with a solid showing at the Players, and all systems are a go as he seeks his first trophy since the 2021 Open Championship. The question, as always, will be how the putter holds up.
6. Jason Day
Age: 35 World Ranking: 33 Masters appearances: 11
Best Masters Finish: T-2, 2011
Played 11 straight Masters before missing out last year, a low point in a slide that saw him drop all the way to world No. 174. Remade his swing with the help of Chris Como to engineer a move that wouldn’t put so much stress on his back. Took a while to groove that new pattern but it’s clicking this year in a big way—he’s got top 10s in six of his last seven starts and ranks sixth on tour in strokes gained: overall. And all the swing work hasn’t come at the expense of his always classy short game, as he’s 13th in strokes gained putting and second on tour in scrambling percentage. Nearly won his first Masters way back in 2011 and finished solo third in 2013, so he obviously knows his way around Augusta despite missing the cut in 2020 and 2021. His game is in a much, much better spot now than it was then, and he’s firmly in the Dark Horse category.
5. Xander Schauffele
Age: 29 World Ranking: 7 Masters appearances: 5
Best Masters Finish:T2, 2019
Always feels like a trendy pick at the majors, doesn’t he? Has had two legitimate chances to win this tournament, in 2019 and 2021, before a very strange missed cut last year. He finished top 15 in the other three majors of the year and has made the cut in each of his nine starts this year. He’s been held back by his driver this year, ranking 125th on tour in strokes gained off the tee, but Augusta’s width does great things for a man’s confidence off the tee. With nine top 10 finishes and 15 top 25s in 22 career majors starts, the law of averages suggests he’ll stumble into a trophy eventually. His quiet nature, absence from the Netflix show and relatively modest start to the season have him flying just beneath the radar—just like he likes it.
4. Rory McIlroy
Age: 33 World Ranking: 2 Masters appearances: 14
Best Masters Finish: 2, 2022
Was searching for a spark in switching back to an old Scotty Cameron putter and he found one. Looked excellent in reaching the semifinals of the match play and, two tournaments before that, will feel like he should’ve won the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We ask it every year: will this finally be the time Rory gets his green jacket and becomes just the sixth player ever to complete the Career Grand Slam? His game fits Augusta perfectly, with his massive length and towering high-draw ball flight off the tee. If the forecast comes true and there’s rain early in the week, that could well play into his hands as he’s excelled on soaked golf courses in the past. The last competitive round he played at Augusta was an eight-under 64 to finish solo second, his best-ever finish at the Masters, and there are rumblings that he was on absolute fire in his tune-up visits in recent weeks. It’s going to happen eventually…right?!
3. Tony Finau
Age: 33 World Ranking: 13 Masters appearances: 5
Best Masters Finish: T-5, 2019
He’s been a human ATM for the better part of a decade now, and the Winning Floodgates have finally opened in the last 19 months. Won back-to-back starts during the peak of summer on long, soft golf courses in the Midwest. Augusta won’t play anything similar to that, but he’s been remarkably consistent this year on all different types of layouts. Dating back to last falls Cadence Houston Open, which he also won, Finau has finished T-25 or better in 10 consecutive starts. We think of him as a bomber, which he is, but his iron play has been elite this year and he ranks third in the all-important strokes gained approach. With three top-10 finishes in his five Masters appearances, he’ll love his chances to finally bag that first major championship. Doesn’t feel quite right to call a guy who’s won four times in the last 19 months a “sleeper,” but these days anyone who’s not Scottie, Rahm or Rory sort of falls into that category.
2. Jon Rahm
Age: 28 World Ranking: 3 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters Finish: 4, 2018
Let’s rewind to the afternoon of March 2, 2023. Jon Rahm had just polished off a seven-under 65 at brutally difficult Bay Hill. He’d won his prior start over a stacked field at the Genesis Invitational. He’d won three times already on the PGA Tour that season, including two of the first three designated events. He was a clear No. 1 in the world, the alpha dog of men’s golf, and the undisputed Masters favorite. Then…golf happened. He struggled the rest of the weekend at Bay Hill, withdrew from the Players after one round, went 1-2 at the match play and, all the sudden, some of the shine has worn off. Still, he’s been the best player thus far this year and leads the tour in strokes gained overall, is third in strokes gained tee to green and fourth in strokes gained approach. Posted four consecutive top-five finishes at the Masters from 2018-21 but most of those were of the backdoor variety; he hasn’t played Augusta’s back-nine with a realistic chance of winning the Masters yet. It would be a surprise if he didn’t win a major this year, and it’s not often we can say that about a golfer.
1. Scottie Scheffler
Age: 26 World Ranking: 1 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters Finish: WIN, 2022
It’s not just that he wins golf tournaments; it’s the matter-of-fact way he does it. You might find it boring, but it’s the ideal comportment for championship golf. Nothing phases the reigning champion, and, apart from that four-putt on 18 last year, he seems impervious to his position on the leaderboard at all times. Enters the year’s first major as the No. 1 player in the world for the second consecutive year. He has “just” two wins in 2023 compared to the three he had prior to last year’s Masters, but these were arguably more impressive: defending his title at the elevated WM Phoenix Open and cruising past the strongest field in golf to win the Players Championship by five shots. He’s a big guy and hits it a long way, but his greatest strength (apart from the attitude) might be his short-game creativity, and no course highlights that versatility quite like Augusta. He’s one of the three betting favorites, so you might call this pick boring. But that’s what they call Scottie, and he just keeps on winning.
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