Masters Preview: Full Field Rankings 1-89, With Blurbs and Info On Every Player In The Field At Augusta National

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It's the most wonderful time of the year: Major Championship Season. What better way to prepare for the Masters than by learning about each and every player in the field? Use this full field ranking to help you win your wagers, office pool or simply be a more informed viewer. It goes without saying but this is one man's subjective ranking, and predicting golf tournaments is the ultimate exercise in futility. You've got plenty of reading to do so I'll let you get started now. Happy reading, and Happy Masters week. 

89. Jose Maria Olazabal
Age: 58 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 34
Best Masters finish: WIN, 1994, 1999
Won his first Masters the same year this author was born. One of the all-time best short games and still plays a pretty full schedule on the senior circuit. Made the cut in just one of his last eight Masters starts and as the course continues to lengthen, it’s a tougher and tougher ask. A magical history at Augusta with the two victories but that was then and this is now. 


88. Jasper Stubbs (a)
Age: 22 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: Rookie

Was a surprise winner at the Asia-Pacific Amateur and is still ranked outside the top 350 in the world amateur rankings. “The Masters is something every kid’s ever dreamed of,” he said after the win. “It’ the one tournament that every golf wants to play in their life and now that that’s going to be a reality for me, I’m speechless.” He’s just really, really happy to be there. 

87. Fred Couples
Age: 64 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 38
Best Masters finish: WIN, 1992

Oft cited as one of the ol’ timers who seems to find a way to stay competitive at Augusta long past his playing prime but it’s been rougher shedding since. He missed the cut in four straight before making it last year and finshing T50. He’s a beloved figure in the world game and still plays pretty full time on the Champions Tour but Father Time remains undefeated…unless you’re Bernhard Langer. He’ll definitely play that Tuesday practice round with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas and he’s popular company at the Champions Dinner. He’ll be a fixture at Augusta National for decades to come; the question is how many of those will be as a player. He’s gotta make it to 40, so at least one more year for sure. 

86. Neal Shipley (a)
Age: 23 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: Rookie

Runner-up to Nick Dunlap at last summer’s U.S. Amateur is a fifth-year senior at Ohio State, where he transferred after starting his college career at JMU. There, he studied quantitative finance and graduated in three years. At Ohio State, he’s got his masters in data analytics. Told Golf Magazine he’s already played 100 holes at Augusta this year. 

85. Vijay Singh
Age: 61 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 30
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2000

Has played three events on the Champions Tour this year and hasn’t finished top 15 in any of them. Four missed cuts and a WD in his last five Masters appearances. He’s a legend of the game and will always hold the distinction as the one guy to knock Tiger Woods off the No. 1 ranking in his prime. 

84. Mike Weir
Age: 53 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 24
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2003

He’s watching more golf than he’s playing now in his role as International captain for the upcoming Presidents Cup. No top 10s in five starts on the PGA Tour Champions this year and has missed the cut at eight of the past nine Masters. 

83. Santiago de la Fuente (A)
Age: 22 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: Rookie

University of Houston senior from Mexico won the Latin America Amateur Championship to earn his spot and took an early scouting mission to Augusta with Joaquin Niemann. Ranked No. 23 in the college rankings. 

82. Stewart Hagestad (a)
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: T36, 2017 

A so-so college player at USC has morphed into one of the great mid-amateurs of all time. Won his third U.S. Mid Am title last summer at Sleepy Hollow in New York to earn his third Masters appearance and his seventh major appearance. Won the Azalea Invitational in his last start and enters as the No. 11 ranked amateur in the world—by far the highest-ranked mid-am. 

81. Zach Johnson
Age: 48 Data Golf Ranking: 177 Masters appearances: 19
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2007

“Full Swing” didn’t do him many favors with how it portrayed his captains-pick process. This is a very, very different golf course from the Augusta he won on in ‘07 at one-over par, and he’s just not long enough to really contend with the youngin’s anymore. Lost top-20 finish on the PGA Tour came in Feb. 2023. 

80. Danny Willett
Age: 36 Data Golf Ranking: 245 Masters appearances: 9
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2016

It’s been a turbulent ride since he win in 2016. Dropped outside the top 400 in the world in the immediate aftermath but fought himself back into relevance with some big wins, including the DP World Tour Championship in 2018, the BMW PGA Championship in ‘19 and the Alfred Dunhill links in 2021. Many of the struggles have been caused by a nagging shoulder injury that he finally opted to have properly fixed with surgery just after this year’s PGA Championship. He hasn’t played a competitive round since September. 


79. Christo Lamprecht (a)
Age: 23 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: Rookie

6-foot-8 senior at Georgia Tech is the top-ranked amateur in the world and held the lead after the first round of last year’s Open Championship. He faded as the week wore on but it was another reminder of just how good the top college players are. Won The Amateur Championship to get his spot in the field. 

78. Luke List
Age: 39 Data Golf Ranking: 89 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: T33, 2005

Played his first Masters way back in 2005 after finishing runner-up to Ryan Moore in the U.S. Amateur. Had to wait 17 years to make that drive down Magnolia Lane once again and is back in the field two years later thanks to his win last fall at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He swings it beautifully but has struggled throughout his career with the scoring clubs. A T2 at the Genesis has him flying high in the FedEx Cup but he comes in off three missed cuts in his last four starts, with the fourth being a 56th place finish out of 69 at Bay Hill. Lives in Augusta. 

77. Camilo Villegas
Age: 42 Data Golf Ranking: 390 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters finish:T9, 2013

Was impossible not to get emotional when he won in Bermuda last fall just a few years after his daughter, Mia, lost her battle with a terminal illness. He hasn’t played a single major since 2015 and will be feeling all the emotions as he drives up Magnolia Lane. Golf wise, it’s been Struggle Bus since that win with no finishes better than T50 in 10 starts since.

76. Grayson Murray
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 200 Masters appearances: Rookie

His life was spiraling out of control—a motorcycle accident left him “lucky to be alive”—before he addressed his alcoholism. It’s made all the difference, as he presents an entirely different person than the man he was five years ago. Won his first event after regaining PGA Tour status at the Sony Open to get to his first Masters. No top-20 finishes in seven starts since. 

75. Charl Schwartzel
Age: 39 Data Golf Ranking: 262 Masters appearances: 14
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2011

He’s got a couple of runner-up finishes in recent months at LIV Jeddah and the Alfred Dunhill Championship on the DP WOrld Tour, but Data Golf’s not too impressed given they don’t peg him as a top 250 player in the world. Won the inaugural LIV Golf event in London—a solid trivia nugget to keep in mind, as well as his being the only player to win the Masters by birdieing the final four holes. 

74. Lee Hodges
Age: 28 Data Golf Ranking: 91 Masters appearances: Rookie

Alamaba grad won his first PGA Tour event by seven shots on a pillow-soft TPC Twin Cities layout in the 3M Championship. No top-10 finishes since for the Alabama grad and he’s 137th in strokes gained overall. Making the cut would constitute a successful week for this debutant. 

73. Gary Woodland
Age: 39 Data Golf Ranking: 125 Masters appearances:11
Best Masters finish: T14, 2023

No single person in the field will be more grateful to be walking the fairways than Woodland, who’s been through a nightmare the last year or so. Started knowing crippling anxiety, fear and memory loss sometime last year but doctors couldn’t pinpoint the issue until a scan showed a growth on his brain. That was causing him, a very happy and confident person, to deal with harrowing thoughts of death and not being to remember what club he’s hitting. Stepped away from the game after brain surgery in September and returned in January. Posted his best finish since that comeback with a T21 in Houston two week ago. No top-10s in 11 career Masters appearances. 

72. Peter Malnati
Age: 36 Data Golf Ranking: 123 Masters appearances: First

Took some heat for getting a sponsor’s invite into Pebble Beach as most felt he only got it because he’s on the PGA Tour policy board. To his credit he finished a solid T14 that week then won the Valspar Championship a few weeks back to get into the Masters for the first time at 36. With his bucket hat, yellow golf ball and demonstrative body language he’s anything but boring to watch and for an unassuming kid from Indiana this week will be like a dream. X’s and O’s wise, it’s a big golf course for him and he’s missed the cut in the three majors he has played in. 


71. Bubba Watson
Age: 45 Data Golf Ranking: 197 Masters appearances: 15
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2012, 2014

He’s spoken openly about feeling it’s almost time to move into a more managerial role on LIV Golf, and he doesn’t have a top 10 in his last 12 starts on that tour. And, keep in mind, that’s out of 50ish players each time. 

70. Lucas Glover
Age: 44 Data Golf Ranking: 57 Masters appearances: 9
Best Masters finish: T20, 2007

Caught fire in the throes of summer—you might recall his very, very sweat shirts—to post to wins and three other top-6 finishes in a five-event stretch. He’s made more headlines with his commentary than his play recently, as he’s entered his self-proclaimed “get off my lawn” phase of life and has called the new signature events a selfish money grab. His best Masters finish came 16 years ago and he doesn’t have a top-10 major finish since 2009.

69. J.T. Poston
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 35 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: T34, 2023

A very steady player who continues to cash check after check on the PGA Tour. Still looking for his first breakout week in a major, as his best attempt in 12 career starts is a T34 at last year’s Masters. He’s a country boy from Hickory, N.C. and played his college ball at Western Carolin

68. Ryo Hisatsune
Age: 21 Data Golf Ranking: 78 Masters appearances: Rookie

Promising young Japanese player making his first-ever major championship start thanks to a special exemption from Augusta National. Was rookie of the year on the DP World Tour last year and got his PGA Tour card through by being one of the top 10 DP World Tour players in last year’s rankings who wasn’t already exempt. Started his PGA Tour career off with three consecutive made cuts and appears to have the goods to cut it in the United States. 

67. Adam Schenk
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 65 Masters appearances: Rookie

Last year was the finest of this Indiana boy’s career—he racked up seven top-10 finishes and got to the Tour Championship for the first time. Best finish in 10 starts thus far this year is a T17 in Phoenix. His approach play has been putrid this year and that’s not a pattern you want heading into Augusta’s discerning green complexes. 

66. Rickie Fowler
Age: 35 Data Golf Ranking: 103 Masters appearances:
Best Masters finish: 2, 2018

A resurgence last summer was capped by a victory in Detroit, his first in over four years, and his buddy Zach Johnson gave him a Ryder Cup pick because of it. He has been very, very average since, and that might be too friendly. His best finish in his last nine PGA Tour starts is a T35 out of 70 players at Riviera, and he missed the cut at Valero just last week. This will mark his first Masters appearance since 2020 and he does have a solo second in 2018 to draw back on but there is little evidence to suggest his game is anywhere near good enough to contend. For the season he’s 171st in strokes gained off the tee and 146th in strokes gained approach. 

65. Ryan Fox
Age: 37 Data Golf Ranking: 126 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters finish: T26, 2023

A late bloomer from New Zealand who climbed his way up the professional golf ladder and has made the transition to playing in the U.S. full time. Masters debut last week went solidly with a T23 finish. Made just three cuts in seven starts this year with no finishes better than T35. He hits it a long way but he’s hit just 44% of his fairways. Augusta could be a sneaky good fit, then, with how wide it can be and how it allows players to scramble. 

64. Kurt Kitayama
Age: 31 Data Golf Ranking: 70 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters finish: CUT, 2023

“Quadzilla,” as he’s known by his Las Vegas crew friends, might be the best nickname on tour. Beat Rory McIlroy to win Bay Hill last year and has played solid if unspectacular golf this year. Hits it a very, very long way and will look to see the weekend after missing it in his first try. 


63. Cameron Davis
Age: 29 Data Golf Ranking: 108 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters finish: 46, 2023

Closed with a 65 at Oak Hill to finish T4 in the PGA Championship and sneak back into the Masters for the second time. Big Aussie player might not be a household name in the United States but played very well in the fall and spent considerable time inside the top 50 of the world rankings. Best finish in seven starts thus far on the PGA Tour is a T18 at Bay Hill. Made his Presidents Cup debut at Quail Hollow in 2022 and given the exodus of International Team talent that’s gone to LIV there’s a good chance he’s on the team in Montreal. A good showing in the Masters can go a long way toward that goal. 

62. Thorbjorn Olesen
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 88 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters finish: T6, 2013

He’s had quite the journey in the game. The Dane made the 2018 Ryder Cup team as a promising young player then had a major setback when he was charged, then acquitted, of sexual assault and being drunk on an airplane. He’s won three times since May 2022 on the DP World Tour. Finished T6 in the Masters as a 23-year-old—perhaps that had some role in him getting a special exemption into the tournament this year, because I’m not entirely sure why he got one otherwise.

61. Nick Dunlap
Age: 20 Data Golf Ranking: 143 Masters appearances: Rookie

Became the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1993 when he held off Sam Burns to win the American Express. That got him into all the signature events and he ade the no-brainer decision to leave his sophomore season at Alabama and cash in. He’s also the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and would’ve been in the Masters even if he hadn’t won. Understandably he struggled a bit in the immediate aftermath of that win; his world changed overnight and his attention was surely being pulled in many different directions. Nice to see him post a T11 finish in Houston, then, for his first top-45 finish in six starts since that historic victory.

60. Adrian Meronk
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 61 Masters appearances: Rookie

The big Pole felt he should’ve made the Ryder Cup team and said the snub was a reason he went to LIV Golf. He would’ve had full PGA Tour membership this year through his play on the DP World Tour had he not made the jump but opted for the surefire cash. Posted top-10s in his first three LIV starts but needs to play very well this week to keep getting into majors. But he knew that going in. 

59. Tom Kim
Age: 21 Data Golf Ranking: 38 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters finish: T16, 2023

Performed excellently in the majors last year with a T16 in his Masters debut, a T8 at the U.S. Open and a T2 at the Open Championship. Added his third PGA Tour title at the Shriners in the fall but hasn’t been up to snuff in 2024 with no top 10s in eight starts and T62-T52-MC in his last 3. His putting has been very, very poor—he’s 143d in strokes gained putting and 140th in three-putt avoidance, always an important stat for Augusta National. 

58. Nicolai Hojgaard
Age: 23 Data Golf Ranking: 66 Masters appearances: Rookie

Luke Donald put a ton of faith in the young Dane by selecting him with a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup. He went 0-2-1 that week but gained a ton from the experience. Won the biggest title of his young career at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and started his PGA Tour rookie season with a solo second. Not done much of note since then. 

57. Matthieu Pavon
Age: 31 Data Golf Ranking: 47 Masters appearances: Rookie

He’s the posterchild for the new pathway from the DP World Tour to the PGA Tour. Ten years ago a player like him, a Frenchman, might never have made the jump. But he was presented the opportunity thanks to his play in Europe and he has run with it, winning at Torey Pines and finishing solo third at Pebble Beach. An excellent, excellent putter. 

56. Erik van Rooyen
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 59 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: CUT, 2022

A dream finish in Mexico last fall for his second PGA Tour win, shooting 28 on the back nine just days before his college teammate succumbed to a battle with cancer. Now working with Sean Foley and their relationship is part swing coach, part life coach. Missed the cut in his last six major starts and has a WD/CUT record in the Masters so he’ll be rearing to go for this one. 


55. Adam Hadwin
Age: 36 Data Golf Ranking: 42 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters finish: T24, 2018

He’s got the LIV guys to thank for dropping out of the world rankings as he just barely earned a spot by being in the top 50. Has three top-10 finishes this at the American Express, Genesis Invitational and Valspar Championship. One of a host of Canadians trying to impress fellow Canadian captain Mike Weir and make the International team for the Presidents Cup in Montreal. One top-10 finish in 22 career major starts. 

54. Emiliano Grillo
Age: 31 Data Golf Ranking: 48 Masters appearances: 3
Best Masters finish: T17, 2016

Back at Augusta for the first time since 2019 thanks to his win at Colonial last summer. He hasn’t missed a cut yet in nine starts this year and has had some good finishes—T14 at Pebble, T8 at Bay Hill—in signature events. Not sure he has the top-level gear to keep up with the worldbeaters but a top 20 is certainly in the equation. Made the weekend in all three Masters starts. 

53. Phil Mickelson
Age: 53 Data Golf Ranking: 432 Masters appearances: 30
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2004, 2006, 2010

His T2 last year might’ve been the most surprising major finish by any player since…his win at the 2021 PGA Championship. Lefty turns 54 in June and, judging by his play on LIV and the advanced stats there is little reason to believe he can make a run. But that was the case last year, too, and he conjured up a magical final-round 64. Still hits it plenty far enough and has made a few tweaks recently to his game. He’s using the LAB putter that has grown in popularity and has a new caddie on the bag after his brother called it quits. “Jon Yarbrough,” Mickelson said of his new caddie, “is the best green reader I’ve ever seen. I’m so excited to work with him and I’ve already learned a lot.” 

52. Tiger Woods
Age: 48 Data Golf Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 25
Best Masters finish: WIN, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019

Said last December that he thought playing once a month in competition would be realistic. Fast forward four months and he’s played one round and eight holes total in competition in 2024. He’s completed just two 72-hole official tournaments since the car accident 39 months ago. That’s just way, way too little golf for anyone to be ready to compete against the Scotties and the Rorys and the Rahms. When Tiger won the 2019 Masters it came at the tell end of a pretty meaty stretch of play: he teed it up 18 times in 2018 and the Masters was his sixth start of 2019. So, why hasn’t he played? Has he been so busy with the new PGA Tour Enterprises stuff that he hasn’t been able to practice? Did he know once-a-month was overly ambitious but said it anyway to give the Tour some juice? Did something happen physically between Riviera and now that kept him from playing in the Players, because the flu he said made him WD from Genesis surely would’ve healed long ago. There is little reason to believe he has any chance besides the fact he is Tiger Woods this is Augusta National. He’d set a new Masters record by making his 24th consecutive cut. 

51. Sepp Straka
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 67 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: T30, 2023

Took a big step last year in making the European Ryder Cup team, which he essentially locked up by finishing T2 at the Open Championship. Born and raised in Austria, he moved to Valdosta, Ga. as a teenager and played his college golf at…you guessed it, Georgia. Missed four of eight cuts this year and still searching for his first top 10 of the season.

50. Harris English
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 30 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters finish: T21, 2021

The rare PGA Tour player who’s ranked higher by Data Golf (30) than the OWGR rankings. It speaks to his consistency—he posts a ton of finishes in the 7th-25th range, including in seven of his last 10 starts. A very solid and dependable ball striker but not much Masters success to speak of in four attempts. 

49. Sungjae Im
Age: 26 Data Golf Ranking: 56 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters finish: T2, 2020


Quietly tumbling down the world rankings and he’s struggled with his iron play this year. He’s a paint by numbers kind of guy who isn’t the most comfortable altering trajectories and shot shapes so he can, at times, struggle in the wind. Best finish in his last nine starts is a T18 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. His T2 finish at the 2020 Masters deserves an asterisk of sorts, as does everything that year given how soft and different the golf course played. He has been solid in each of the past two Masters (T8 and T16) but this is the first extended down period he’s really had in his career. 

48. Patrick Reed
Age: 33 Data Golf Ranking: 77 Masters appearances: 10
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2018

Finds himself at something of a crossroads in his career. His major exemptions from his 2018 Masters win expired at the end of last season and so, as of right now, he’s only exempt into this one. He’s played plenty of Asian Tour events in search of world ranking points—so much for playing less and spending more time with family, eh?—but sits outside the top 100 and risks missing the PGA Championship, which would be the first major he hasn’t played in since 2013. Certainly knows his way around Augusta National with three other top-10 finishes to go along with that victory, including a solo fourth last year. 

47. Nick Taylor
Age: 35 Data Golf Ranking: 49 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters finish: T29, 2020

He’s had two awesome, very cool, sick wins since the last Masters. Sank a 72-foot eagle putt last summer to become the first Canadian to win the Canadian Open since 1959. In February he birdied three of his final four holes to get into a playoff at the WM Phoenix Open then birdied both playoff holes to deny Charley Hoffman a Cinderella victory. With all the LIV defections impacting the International team he’s a virtual lock to represent Canada on home soil in the Presidents Cup and this former world No. 1 amateur is playing the best golf of his career. 

46. Byeong-Hun An
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 32 Masters appearances: Rookie
Best Masters finish: T33, 3017

Back at Augusta for the first time in four years thank to a resurgence made under the guidance of swing coach Sean Foley. He’s absolutely smashing the ball off the tee—he ranks 13th in driving distance and 25th in strokes gained tee to green—but ball striking has never been the problem, and he’s actually in the positive on the greens this year. It’s a good formula that has him up to 7th in the FedEx Cup standings. No major top 10s in 27 career attempts.

45. Stephan Jaeger
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 36 Masters appearances: Rookie

Managed to hold off the Goliath that is Scottie Scheffler to win the Texas Children’s Open, pick up his first win and get to the Masters for the first time in his mid 30s. He’s done a ton of work on his golf swing over the past five years and has transformed from one of the shorter hitters to one of the longer ones. A T3 at Torrey Pines and in Mexico to go along with that victory already this year. 

44. Eric Cole
Age: 35 Data Golf Ranking: 33 Masters appearances:Rookie 

Gets his Masters debut at 35 after a decade-plus of grinding on the mini tours before a late-career breakout. The reigning Rookie of the Year hasn’t yet won on the PGA Tour but made posted three straight finishes of T3 or better in the fall at just the right time, to cement his spot in the year-end top 50 of the world rankings and book his spot at Augusta. How amazing that drive up Magnolia Lane will feel given the grind he persisted through. Made the cut in both the majors he did get into last year, highlighted by a T15 at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, and he’s a very steady player who doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. That’s a nice formula in major championships. 

43. Justin Rose
Age: 43 Data Golf Ranking: 94 Masters appearances: 18
Best Masters finish: 2, 2017

His playoff loss to Sergio Garcia still stings, as he’d be the first to tell you. Enjoyed a resurgent 2023 that saw him return to the winner’s circle at Pebble Beach and play elder statesmen at the Ryder Cup. The form has not been nearly as good this calendar year; he doesn’t have a top 10 in seven starts and comes in off back-to-back missed cuts at Bay Hill and the Players. Now lives back in London and is spending tons of times on airplanes hopping the Atlantic. 

42. Keegan Bradley
Age: 37 Data Golf Ranking: 51 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: T22, 2015

He’s become a true fan favorite over the last few years—a hugely popular winner at last year’s Travelers Championship and now has the general public on his side after Full Swing didn’t do Zach Johnson any favors. Won his very first major championship start 13 years ago but has just three top-10 finishes in his 40 major starts since. Missed the cut at both the Players and the Valspar coming in as he’s struggled with the putter. A huge gap between his OWGR ranking (No. 18) and his Data Golf ranking (No. 51), which is usually indicative of some not-so-good current form as Data Golf more heavily relies on recency. No top 20s in seven career Masters appearances. 


41. Chris Kirk
Age: 38 Data Golf Ranking: 46 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters finish: T20, 2014

Won the first event of the year at Kapalua with a flagged 5-iron on 17 to cap off a final-round 65. The syrupiest of tempos, his playing partner that day Akshay Bhatia said he “hardly looked like he had a pulse.” That’s his style—lowkey, trusts his draw and doesn’t get too high or low. Played solidly (T23) last year in his first Masters start since 2016. Another Georgia Bulldog. 

40. Corey Conners
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 24 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters finish: T6, 2022

A bit of an Augusta specialist, he’d posted three straight top-10 Masters finish before an MC Hammer at least year’s tournament. A lovely ball striker from Canada who has some extra motivation this year given the Presidents Cup on home soil. His two PGA Tour wins have both come at the Valero Texas Open, the week before the Masters, so there’s clearly some comfort playing in APril. You do wonder if he has the mettle or the nerve on the putting greens to hole the putts necessary to win majors. Hasn’t really put himself in contention to win one and has actually squandered a few strong opening rounds. He’s got a remarkably consistent statistical profile: he’s gained strokes both off the tee and with his approach in 12 consecutive events but lost ground putting in nine of his last 11. For the season he’s 11th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 146th in putting, which is how it’s been the last couple years. A decent bet for a top 20 finish but he would be a stunning winner. 

39. Taylor Moore
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 53 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters finish: T39, 2023

He’s certainly trending. Tied for second in his last start in Houston and was T12 at the Valspar before that one. Hasn’t missed a cut since the Open Championship last year. Didn’t have much success in his first year playing the majors, mising two cuts and going T39 at the Masters and T72 at the PGA Championship. 

38. Sergio Garcia
Age: 44 Data Golf Ranking: 95 Masters appearances: 24
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2017

Comes in off good form on LIV, losing a playoff to Joaquin Nieman and Mexico to start the season and just yesterday to Dean Burmester at Trump Doral. He’s got 23 career top-10 finishes in majors and it was the magic 23rd that finally got him across the finish line. He’s had zero major top-10s since that 2017 Masters title (23 starts) and 14 missed cuts, and he’s missed the weekend in four of his last five Masters appearances. 

37. Austin Eckroat
Age: 25 Data Golf Ranking: 69 Masters appearances: Rookie

Another product in the long assembly line of Oklahoma State players on the PGA Tour, he played alongside Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff and Kristoffer Ventura (who will likely be on the PGA Tour next year) on the 2018 national championship winning team. Won his first PGA Tour event in commanding fashion at the Cognizant Classic at PGA National and shot 29 on his front-nine on Sunday of last year’s U.S. Open to finish T10. A player on the rise. 

36. Si Woo Kim
Age: 28 Data Golf Ranking: 26 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: T12, 2021

Making his eighth Masters appearance at 28 and with four PGA Tour victories to his name he’s quietly building an excellent resume. Off to a very solid start this year—hasn’t missed a cut in nine events and has six top-25 finishes, including a T6 at the Players Championship. Made the cut in each of his last seven Masters starts. He’s a value play in daily fantasy formats. 

35. Jake Knapp
Age: 29 Data Golf Ranking: 98 Masters appearances: Rookie

A breakout star from the early part of the season, he’s developed quite the following for his incredible swing and Cali-bro vibes. His move is part John Daly, part Fred Couples—the club nearly bounces off his neck in his backswing but he moves through the impact zone with such grace and balance it’s hard to believe he’s swinging hard enough to reach 190 mph ball speed…but he is. Won his first PGA Tour event at the Mexico Open despite hitting just two fairways on Sunday and that’s sort of a theme. He’s not the straightest hitter in the world but that’s okay at Augusta. Has exceptional raw ability and he can overpower the par 5s. I’ve got a hunch he’ll play well this week. 

34. Adam Scott
Age: 43 Data Golf Ranking: 31 Masters appearances: 22
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2013

More than a decade removed from his Masters victory he remains a constant fixture on Tour and played some lovely golf toward the end of last year through February. He hasn’t been very good in the majors recently with no top 10s since the 2019 U.S. Open. That’s 16 straight without a top 10. 


33. Collin Morikawa
Age: 27 Data Golf Ranking: 7 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters finish: 5, 2022

His first major championship season under the guidance of swing guru Mark Blackburn, who he’s been with since opting to part ways with childhood coach Rick Sessinghaus. He’s top-10’d in each of the past two Masters but has not had a good season thus far. Missed the cut at Bay Hill, which was hard to do, took T45 at the Players, needed an up-and-down birdie to avoid missing the cut at the Valero Texas Open and shot four over for the weekend. He doesn’t subscribe to the belief that you have to draw the ball to win at Augusta and says he draws his driver zero times per year (on purpose). Won two majors in his first eight tries and, at 27, still has so many opportunities in front of him. This doesn’t seem like one of his best ones.

32. Denny McCarthy
Age: 31 Data Golf Ranking: 41 Masters appearances: Rookie

Perhaps the finest putter on god’s green earth, he was a two-time All American at Virginia and is a bit throwback in that he’s hitting his prime in his 30s. Enjoyed the best year of his career last year by far and is into his first Masters despite not yet winning on the PGA Tour. Couldn’t have played much better on Sunday in birdieing his final seven holes to chasedown Akshay Bhatia and force a playoff only to fat a wedge in the playoff and hand over the victory. He’s a fiery competitor and that will sting but he should take tons of positives from that week. Watching him roll the rock on the purest greens in the world should be a treat. 

31. Min Woo Lee
Age: 25 Data Golf Ranking: 50 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: T14, 2022

Social media’s favorite player with his Let Him Cook tagline and I-like-to-go-fast sunglasses/mustache combo. He hits the ball fast, too. Really fast. He’s been one of the best drivers of the ball during his rookie season on the PGA Tour. Already a proven winner in Europe he’s had success in majors before with a top five at last year’s U.S. Open. He loves the big moment and views himself as an entertainer as well as a golfer. Has struggled with both his iron play and his putting but has been hard at work at both over the last few weeks and recently made a tweak to his putting grip that he’s hopeful could spark a turnaround. A T2 at the Honda Classic is by far his best finish thus far this year. 

30. Sam Burns
Age: 27 Data Golf Ranking: 14 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: T29, 2023

Enjoyed a very nice West Coast Swing, where he was able to overcome a hugely disappointing loss to amateur Nick Dunlap in Palm Springs—he rinsed his tee shot on the par-3 17th to tumble out of contention—by following that up with three more top 10 finishes, two of which came in signature events. He’s been one of the best putters on the planet since he came on tour and has gained ground on the field putting in eight straight starts. That can be interpreted positively (you need to putt well at Augusta) or negatively (you can’t rely on your putting on a weekly basis as it’s highly volatile given the binary nature of results, miss or make). No real major championship success to speak of. It’s still early, but he’s got just one top 25 finish in 14 major starts. 

29. Matt Fitzpatrick
Age: 29 Data Golf Ranking: 16 Masters appearances: 9
Best Masters finish: T7, 2016

A puzzling start to the year. Managed to miss the cut at both the Genesis Invitational and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which wasn’t easy to do, then bounced back by birdieing the final four holes at the Players for a solo fifth finish. He’s been a steady performer in majors and has made the cut in 11 of the last 12 and has two career top 10 finishes in the Masters, including last year. Perhaps some of the struggles were due to one of the bigger head-scratcher stories in a while: a player of his fastidiousness, who charts every shot and does whatever it takes to gain 1%, forgot he had put extra weight in his driver and couldn’t figure out why he was hitting it all over the place. Loves everything about Augusta National and tends to putt very well on the slippery Bentgrass greens.


28. Russell Henley
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 15 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: T4, 2023

The advanced metrics are high on him. Not going to win the Player Impact Program but he’s made the Tour Championship in each of the last two seasons and last I checked style points don’t matter on the leaderboard. He’s very consistent, hardly ever misses a cut and has historically been a very good iron player. Hung around for most of last year’s Masters en route to a T4 finish, his lone top 10 in 36 career major starts. Yet another Georgia Bulldog in the field.

27. Tyrrell Hatton
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 12 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: T18, 2021

Made the jump to LIV Golf to join Jon Rahm’s team after yet another excellent year on the PGA Tour. Off to a good start on LIV, too, making $833k last week for finishing T4 out of 54. There’s also this: he really, really doesn’t like Augusta National. He’s gone full machine gun after missing a putt on the 13th and has called the setup unfair, claiming it doesn’t properly reward good shots. He’s a fiery character and it doesn’t take much to set him off. A course like Augusta, with its mumps and bounds, tests his patience. Perhaps that’s a reason he doesn’t have a top 10 in his last 15 major starts. 

26. Jason Day
Age: 36 Data Golf Ranking: 30 Masters appearances: 12
Best Masters finish: T2, 2011

He’s made some headlines this year with his threads, leaving Nike for streetwear-influenced golf brand Malbon, and his pants have drawn some strong opinions on both sides. The game is in a solid spot, however—he notched back-to-back top 10s at Pebble Beach and Riviera and finished T2 in the last major championship he played. Nearly won his debut at the masters and finished solo third two years later, but he hasn’t played as well around Augusta in recent years. His last three Masters have yielded two missed cuts and a T39. 

25. Akshay Bhatia
Age: 22 Data Golf Ranking: 73 Masters appearances: Rookie 

What a journey to the Masters it’s been. A child prodigy, he played the Walker Cup at 17 but then opted to zag when everyone else zigged by eschewing college golf and turning pro straight out of high school. People dunked on him in the years after for what they felt was a poor decision but he won on the KFT and earned his PGA Tour card at 21, and he showed exactly what he’s capable of dominating a very solid field last week in San Antonio…dominating everyone except Denny McCarthy, that is. McCarthy birdied his final seven holes to force a playoff only to lay the sod over his first wedge shot in that playoff, but even the playoff wasn’t without drama as Bhatia needed treatment for his shoulder after appearing to tweak it while fist-pumping. Let’s hope his 22-year-old tendons and muscles are elastic. Now he’s a young, upcoming lefty playing Augusta National for the first time. An extremely high, top-5-in-world upside and I’m pumped to watch him play the Masters for the first time. 

24. Justin Thomas
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 23 Masters appearances: 8
Best Masters finish: 4, 2020

He’ll have some questions to answer about the surprising split with his caddie, Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay, on the eve of the Masters. Had a dreadful year in the majors last year with three missed cuts and a T65 in the one weekend he did see, but still made the Ryder Cup team and didn’t play terrible in Italy. Seemed to have found his form toward the tail end of last year into the beginning of ‘24 with five straight finishes of T6 or better but he’s taken a half-step back since, missing the cut at Riviera and the Players and taking T64 at the Valspar. He’ll have Matt Minister, who used to caddie for Patrick Cantlay, on the bag. 

23. Max Homa
Age: 33 Data Golf Ranking: 11 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters finish: T43, 2023

Finished the year by winning the Nedbank in South Africa and started off with two top-15 finishes but you get the sense he expects to be contending every time he tees it up and he hasn’t quite done that yet this year. His major record pales in comparison to how he’s played on the PGA Tour and it’s doubly curious given he’s won on major-style golf courses in Quail Hollow, Riviera and Torrey Pines.He did, however, pick up his first major top 10 at the Open Championship last year and he has every physical and mental tool you could ask for. Yet to break 70 in 12 career rounds at Augusta National. Strange to see him in the negative in strokes gained off the tee (118th on tour) this far into the season given he finished 41st and 25th in that stat the past two seasons. 

22. Tommy Fleetwood
Age: 33 Data Golf Ranking: 17 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: T14, 2022

Played excellent golf throughout most of last summer and through the Ryder Cup and began the year with his seventh DP World Tour victory in Dubai but has been only OK on this side of the pond since. He’s lost ground with his approach play in three of his last four starts. With four top-10 finishes in his last seven major championship starts he’s clearly a player who thrives on demanding layouts that reward flush ball striking and punish big misses, which he doesn’t really hit. Record at the Masters is the worst of the four majors with nary a top 10 in seven attempts. His normal caddie, Ian Finnis, is dealing with an injury so it’s been a rotating cast of characters on the bag in recent weeks.

21. Cameron Smith
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 45 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: T2, 2020


One of the hardest players to forecast going in given the variable that is his health. He withdrew from LIV Miami last week with an illness but did finish T2 in his last start before tha, and the official word from LIV is that he should be fine for next week. Has a game tailor-made for Augusta National; he loves to work the ball around and has an elite short game, and his lack of control off the tee doesn’t hurt him as much there as it does in other majors. No surprise, then, that he’s got a T2 and a T3 at Augusta in his back pocket. Was the world No. 2 when he left for LIV Golf and, with a Players and an Open already to his name, he’s one major away from the Hall of Fame. 

20. Dustin Johnson
Age: 39 Data Golf Ranking: 40 Masters appearances: 13
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2020

The last Masters he’ll play in his 30s, which might make you feel old. Left the PGA Tour gracefully and has flourished on LIV, winning their player of the year in his first season and adding wins in 2023 and another in Vegas earlier this year. Hasn’t been the consistent performer recently that he was in majors in his early 30s when he finished top 10 in five consecutive Masters. Unlike a lot of the other LIV players, he doesn’t seem one ounce bothered by tumbling down the world rankings (he’s into the Masters for life and the U.S. Open through 2026, at which point you have to think he’ll retire to the boat) and hasn’t played a single world ranking event outside the majors since he made the move. He said he wanted to play less, and he’s playing less. 

19. Brian Harman
Age: 37 Data Golf Ranking: 22 Masters appearances: 5
Best Masters finish: T12, 2021

Silenced a raucous Northern English crowd at Royal Liverpool to win the Open Championship by six shots, a remarkable performance. Hasn’t missed a cut since then and has no problems keeping up with the big boys—he’s notched a T5 at the Sentry, a T12 at Bay Hill and missed a birdie putt that would’ve sent him into a playoff at the Players Championship. Seems to relish the moment and, in his late 30s, has finally blossomed into the world-class player his amateur career suggested he might be. Born in Georgia, went to Georgia, lives in Georgia. 

18. Patrick Cantlay
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 8 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: T9, 2019

He hasn’t properly contended for a major the way you’d expect a player with his non-major resume to. But he’s quietly on a pretty solid run in them: four top T14 finishes or better in his last five major starts, including a T14 at last year’s Masters. He’s had his hands very full spearheading the new direction of the PGA Tour but can clearly compartmentalize has he’s managed to stay inside the world top 10 despite all those Zoom meetings. Played well on the West Coast, as he’s wont to do, but didn’t do much in FLorida with a T36 (out of 69) at Bay Hill and a T68 at the Players Championship. Continues to be among the best drivers of the ball on tour but has struggled with the iron play this year. Gets his first crack at Augusta with Joe LaCava on the bag. He’s had some success around that course. LaCava, that is. 

17. Cameron Young
Age: 26 Data Golf Ranking: 19 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: T7, 2023

Still looking for his first PGA Tour win despite seconds on seconds on seconds, including in his most recent start at the Valspar. He can look borderline joyless on the golf course and has been through quite the carousel of caddies in just a few years on tour. His game is an electric one that can overpower courses and yield tons of birdies; he’s got four finishes of eighth or better in his last sven major starts, including last year at Augusta. There is no doubt his good is good enough to compete with anyone and he ranks in the top 20 in both strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approach. It’ll come down to how he putts. 

16. Tony Finau
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 24 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters finish: T5, 2019

No longer a young gun as he creeps toward 35 and still looking to tick off that first major championship. It’s funny the way his pattern has sort of flipped; from 2018 through May 2021 he posted nine top-10 major finishes in 13 starts but zero PGA Tour wins. Since then, he’s won five times on the PGA Tour but not posted a single top 10 in a major. Long been viewed as one of the longest hitters on tour but he’s actually gotten shorter relative to his peers as the years have passed and significantly so. Comes in off a T2 in Houston and has three top-19 finishes in six Masters starts. Flying very much under the radar. 

15. Sahith Theegala
Age: 26 Data Golf Ranking: 13 Masters appearances: 1
Best Masters finish: 9, 2023

Electric Masters debut last year—he chipped in from long of 16 green on Sunday in very Tiger-like fashion. Won his first PGA Tour event in the fall in Napa and has been very solid again this year with three top-10s, including at the Players and Bay Hill. His weakness is the big, wild miss of the tee but you’re not going to lose balls at Augusta and he loves himself a recovery shot. Sort of the righty Bubba Watson, if that makes sense, but not as long and with a better short game. Bubba, I hear, has done just fine at Augusta. 

14. Jordan Spieth
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 20 Masters appearances: 10
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2015

He was in vintage neurosis form last week in San Antonio at 4-over par through 15 holes, barking Michael Greller’s ear off…and then making a hole-in-one on 16, a birdie on 17 and catapulting up the leaderboard on Friday, then going on an adventure that involved a storm drain, a roof, tree roots and about four different rulings on Saturday. It’s never a dull watch and he maintains that he is playing way, way better than he’s scoring despite missing the cut at both the Player and the Valspar.  Augusta could be the perfect place for him to get right as no one’s played the course much better over the last decade: a win, two seconds, two thirds and a fourth-place finish. He says he’s close, and he played solid last week. It’s just enough reason to believe again. 

13. Viktor Hovland
Age: 26 Data Golf Ranking: 5 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters finish: T7, 2023

Played the best golf of his career toward the back half of last year, winning the BMW and Tour Championship for his first FedEx cup title. Kept up that form at the Ryder Cup, going 3-1-1…then split with his coach, Joe Mayo, who helped overhaul his short game. Strokes gained around the green isn’t a super trustworthy stat as it doesn’t account for all the intricacies of a short-game shot—what the lie is, where you want to leave it, etc—but he is 183rd so far this year in that category, losing nearly a full shot per round to the field. Yikes. He’s struggling. Of course, it’s all relative when you’re talking about a player of Hovland’s caliber, but just one top-10 finish in five starts on tour this year isn’t up to standard. He’s taken three weeks off since the Players as he’s always preferred to iron out the kinks in his game at home away from competition. Finished in the top 20 in all four majors last year and played in the final pairing in two of the last five. He’s at the point of his career where the only thing really missing is a major championship. He’ll get it done, but the game is not where it needs to be at the minute. 

12. Will Zalatoris
Age: 27 Data Golf Ranking: 60 Masters appearances: 2
Best Masters finish: 2, 2021

Missed all four majors last year as he recovered from back surgery and it took him some time to find footing back on tour again. But he did just that during the west coast swing, going T13 at the Farmers, T2 at Riviera and following it up with a T4 at Bay Hill. Used the extending absence to get comfortable with the broomstick-style putter and rolled it well in those top finishes but did not putt well at all in his last two starts, a missed cut at the Players and a T75 in Houston. He’s a world-class ball striker and it has suited him well in majors with six finishes of T8 or better in his last nine starts, including a solo second and a T6 at the Masters. The question, as always, is how well the putter will hold up on Augusta’s ski-slope greens. 

11. Bryson DeChambeau
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 21 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: T21, 2016

Won twice on LIV last year, including shooting 58 at the Greenbrier, and had three straight top-10 finishes coming into the Miami event. As such, Data Golf is still quite high on him. Complicated history at the Masters—his debut as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion couldn’t have gone much better, finishing T21 and winning low amateur honors. But he’s yet to better that finish in six subsequent appearances and has missed the cut at each of the last two. Entered as the favorite in 2020 and famously said the course is a par 67 for him only to flame out of contention after a curious lost ball on the third hole. He seems to be in a much healthier, better place in his life and doesn’t come in with nearly the same attention he did back in his PGA Tour days. 

10. Ludvig Aberg
Age: 24 Data Golf Ranking: 6 Masters appearances: Rookie

The no. 9 player in the much-maligned Official World Golf Ranking and the No. 6 player in Data Golf has to be one of the best and most accomplished major championship rookies ever. Yes, this isn’t just his Masters debut—it’s his first-ever major after he became the first player ever to play in a Ryder Cup before playing in one of the big four. The Swede is an older soul, very measured in his comportment and his playing style and isn’t quite as young as you might expect given he used all his eligibility at Texas Tech. Has made 16 cuts in a row with two wins mixed in, one on the PGA Tour and one on the DP World Tour, and went solo second/T19/T25/8th in the four signature events he’s played in this year. No real holes in his game as he’s comfortably in the positive in every key strokes gained category. Won’t be wowed by the moment given what he’s already experienced and he, along with Wyndham Clark, are two of the stronger contenders we’ve seen in recent years to become the first Masters debutant to win the tournament since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. 

9. Wyndham Clark
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 10 Masters appearances: Rookie

It’s an uncommon career path. A lifelong rank-and-file guy with all the tools that finally gets his mind under control, that’s one thing. But they don’t usually blossom into a top-five player in the world, and certainly not so quickly. Clark is, simply put, a different golfer than he was his first five years on the PGA Tour. It’s not just that his top-gear is now good enough; it’s the week-to-week consistency that he never had. He had no success to speak of in his career at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass coming into 2024 and lost to only one golfer, the same golfer, both times. Data Golf is not as high on him as the World Rankings (he’s No. 2 in those) and there were some really spotty showings in the fall, but it’s hard to argue with the results recently. He expects a ton out of himself every week now, and it won’t be different. Few Masters rookies have ever come in with higher expectations, both from himself and the golfing public at large. It’ll be interesting to see if he sticks with his cut-everything game plan, at least with driver, at a course that historically has favored a right-to-left ball flight. The good news: he can draw both his driving iron (160 mph ish ball speed) and his 3 wood (180 mph ball speed). He should demolish the par 5s; they’ll all be easily reachable and he’s fourth on tour in par 5 scoring average. 

8. Joaquin Niemann
Age: 25 Data Golf Ranking: 9 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters finish: T16, 2023

Earned his special invitation with exceptional play on LIV—he’s won twice already this year—but also by going out of his way to play all over the world in search of world ranking points. He went down to Australia and finished fifth in the Australian PGA then won the Australian Open, and he took T4 in a DP World Tour event in Dubai. Former world No. 1 amateur has been steadily progressing and the next step is to contend in major championships. Historically been a very low ball hitter but he’s become far more comfortable varying trajectories, particularly with the driver, and he believes he can generate enough spin to hold major greens even when he does keep it down. Never been more confident than he is in this moment. He’s hungry, he’s got the opportunity that he asked for, and I expect a very good showing. 

7. Hideki Matsuyama
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 18 Masters appearances: 12
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2021

Been a very strong start to the year for the 2021 champion. The 62 he shot at Riviera is one of the better final rounds in recent memory and he backed it up with a T12 at Bay Hill and a T6 at the Players and he pushed himself up the board on Sunday at Valero. He is striking the ball beautifully and is back to dropping the club if his approach shots are anywhere outside 20 feet. Finished outside the top 20 at the Masters just once in his last nine starts at Augusta. Absolutely has a shot to win another one and a virtual lock to post a solid finish.

6. Shane Lowry
Age: 37 Data Golf Ranking: 27 Masters appearances: 8
Best Masters finish: T3, 2022

Dark Horse. He started the year in the unfortunate spot of not being into the signature events. Got a sponsor’s invite into Bay Hill and finished solo third to catapult himself up the world rankings, and he’s just outside the top 30 benchmark that gets you in automatically. The week before Bay Hill he took T4 at the Honda Classic. Ranks third on tour in strokes gained approach, fifth in strokes gained tee to green and has played Augusta very well in recent years: T25/T21/T3/T16. A hot putter is the last ingredient. All in on Shane this week. 

5. Rory McIlroy
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 3 Masters appearances: 15
Best Masters finish: 2, 2022

This will mark his 10th opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam at golf’s greatest venue and earn his place among the all-time greats. He’s done everything there is to do in world golf since winning his last major, which is coming up on a decade ago. He’s won a bunch of PGA Tour events. He’s won FedEx Cups. He’s starred at Ryder Cups. He’s contended in so, so many majors. But he hasn’t gotten one across, and for a player with his CV the major-or-bust mentality is a cruel reality. He has seven top-eight finishes in his last eight major starts but has missed the cut at the Masters in two of his last three appearances. Those missed cuts, naturally, are split by a solo second finish. He’s gone with a different strategy this year and has played a ton of golf early. The good is there—he made 26 birdies at the Players, and he made a late push up the Valero leaderboard to build some mo’ mo’ ahead of next week—but he’s made a ton of silly mistakes that have killed his chances of contending. Went to Butch Harmon for a lesson shortly after the Players Championship and said Harmon told him the same things he’d been working on but in a different way, and his approach stats were much better en route to finishing solo third. Patience will be the key this week. He wants this so, so badly. 

4. Xander Schauffele
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 2 Masters appearances: 6
Best Masters finish: T2, 2019

He’s got a good case for being the current Best Player Without a Major. Been ruthlessly consistent in the big four, something of a poor man’s Brooks Koepka with 11 top 10s and 19 top-25 finishes in 26 career starts. CHecks every box statistically and his work with swing coach Chris Como has him hitting it significantly further than he used to. Second to only Scottie Scheffler in Data Golf’s ranking as well as strokes gained overall and strokes gained tee to green. Has three top-five finishes in his last four starts but getting into contention has never been the problem with Xander. It’s finishing the job that can be tricky, and his bogeys at 14 and 15 at TPC Sawgrass when he had a great chance to win the Players will have stung. It’ll happen eventually, and he might be a bit undervalued by betting markets. 

3. Brooks Koepka
Age: 33 Data Golf Ranking: 44 Masters appearances: 8
Best Masters finish:T2, 2019 and 2023

Feels like only a matter of time until he gets his green jacket. Said at last week’s LIV Miami event that he’s always felt like he’ll win one because, statistically, it’s the easiest of the four majors to win. Approaching golf’s biggest event, with all its symbolism and history, with such a cold-blooded calculated approach tells you everything about his killer mentality. So-so start on LIV this year and a downright poor showing last week (+7 at Doral) but I really wouldn’t read much, if anything, into that. He was testing a new driver and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes back to ol’ trusty. He’s an all-time great, he’s fully healthy and he’s going to find his way to contention. That’s what Brooks Koepka does at major championships. Forget the stats, forget the form coming in. Focus instead on the 17 finishes of T7 or better in major championships. Oh, and the five victories. 

2. Jon Rahm
Age: 29 Data Golf Ranking: 4 Masters appearances: 7
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2023

The defending champion returns to Augusta National as a LIV Golfer. His jump to the rival circuit was the biggest story of the offseason and seemed, at the time, like a potential bridge to unification. The thinking: this simply isn’t sustainable if LIV is going to keep poaching A-1 talent like Rahm. We don’t seem to be that much closer to that happening, but that’s a discussion for another time. He continues to say he’d love to play PGA Tour events again and hopes for a deal but he’s adjusting just fine to his new surroundings with top 10s in each of his four LIV Golf starts. That’s the furthest thing from surprising; he’s been one of the five best players on the planet for a half-decade and, at this time last year, came in as the clear favorite having already won three times on the PGA Tour. With five top 10s in his last six Masters starts it would be a surprise for him not to pick up a sixth. Assuming, that is, he’s able to work off the Basque feast he has prepared for the Champions Dinner. 

1. Scottie Scheffler
Age: 27 Data Golf Ranking: 1 Masters appearances: 4
Best Masters finish: WIN, 2022

Golf’s top dog at the moment and it’s not close, he’s the biggest favorite in this tournament since Tiger Woods in 2013. Last season he gained 2.615 shots on his opponents tee-to-green, the best single season mark since Tiger in 2016….and he’s done even better so far this year at 2.798 and, most ominously, his work with putting guru Phil Kenyon appears to be paying dividends as he’s gained ground on the greens in three consecutive starts. His finish in those three events: WIN, WIN, T2. Incredibly, it’s a virtual certainty that he will hit the ball well enough to win the Masters and the entire tournament could well come down to how well he putts. Seems wholly comfortable in his own skin and has kept his circle around him tight to keep him grounded. A week of rest back in Dallas before what’s sure to be another taxing week up near the lead from Thursday through Sunday afternoon. Top 10s in eight of his last 11 major championship starts. To say all systems are firing would be an understatement. 


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