08 Apr 2024

The 2024 Masters Preview – Who’s hot, and who’s not?

At long last, the first Major of the year is just around the corner as this week sees the best golfers on the planet battle it out at Augusta National.

It’s felt like an age since the golf world last hosted a Major, with Brian Harman lifting the Claret Jug back in July last year.

However, golf fans can rejoice again as the Masters is now just days away from getting underway. But who’s hot, and who’s not? Let’s take a look…

Firm Favourite – Scottie Scheffler

The American is on an incredible run of form which has already seen him firmly reaffirm his place against as the World No. 1. He has such a big advantage at the top now he’ll probably still be there this time next year, too!

His last three appearances on the PGA Tour have seen him win twice and finish second, and as a proven Masters winner as well, the 27-year-old is a strong pick to triumph again this week.

Only 17 players have won the Masters multiple times in their career, and Scheffler heads into the tournament this week as the favourite to join that elite club.

Still just 27 years old, the eight-time PGA Tour winner has a massive future ahead which could see him go on to win the event many more times before he retires.

Dark Horse – Ludvig Aberg

It’s seem wrong to pick a current top 10 player in the world as a ‘dark horse’, but he’s climbed to his current ranking of 9th largely under the radar of the golfing world.

The Swede has picked up a host of decent finishes this year, including a second place at the recent AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he goes about his business quietly in comparison to some other star names.

Aberg was an amateur this time last year. Now, he's a PGA Tour winner, DP World Tour winner and Ryder Cup winner
Aberg was an amateur last year. Now he’s a PGA Tour, DP World Tour & Ryder Cup winner.

It’s still crazy to think Aberg was an amateur this time last year, and he’s now making his Masters debut. And it wouldn’t be a shock to see him put the Green Jacket come Sunday.

He’s currently top 10 on the 2024 PGA Tour for driving distance, while also in the top 10 for proximity to the hole. So, in short, he drives it far and hits it close to the hole with his irons. Not bad, eh?

Overhyped – Brooks Koepka

The five-time Major champion is notably out of form, despite being regarded as one of the favourites this year following his near-miss in 2023.

The American should have arguably won this tournament last year, so will no doubt be full of motivation to make amends this week and win his sixth Major title.

Koepka finished runner-up last year at the Masters 

However, he’s just finished T-45 at LIV Golf Miami and has recently switched putter to a Scotty Cameron Phantom. A change is not always a good sign.

Can he win? Of course he can, but he was 10 over par for his last two rounds of golf, so the score card would suggest he’s not hitting the ball well.

Surprise Pick – Nicolai Højgaard

The last few winners of the Masters have all had great distance off the tee, hinting more and more that you need to be a longer hitter at Augusta to have a chance.

Think Rahm, DJ, Matsuyama, Scheffler and Tiger. These are guys known for being some of the best drivers of the golf ball.

Hojgaard earned his PGA Tour status for 2024 through his performances on the DP World Tour last year.

Because of that and the need for distance, the young Dane joins the pack as one of the potential outsiders to win this week simply down to his ability with the big stick.

Granted, he’s making his debut and experience is just as important around Augusta, but you never know. His triumph at the DP World Tour Championship last year proved he can beat the world’s best, so he’ll be looking to go one step further at Augusta.

Can Rahm go back-to-back?

You have to go all the way back to 2002 to see the last time a player managed to successfully defend the Masters, and that was Tiger Woods.

It’s would be an unlikely feat for Rahm to join him, but the Spaniard is more rested this year having recently joined LIV Golf with a reduced schedule.

He became a two-time Major winner with his triumph at Augusta last year

The Spaniard has enjoyed a solid start to life on the new breakaway tour, with his Legion XIII team winning twice already.

However, despite a host of top 10 finishes, the 29-year-old is still searching for his first solo triumph which is a surprise given the smaller field size. Maybe it’s all part of the plan to peak for the Masters this week…

What about Tiger?

As much as we all love the Big Cat, I think it would take a miracle for him to win his 16th Major title this week.

The American withdrew from the Genesis Invitational on his last start, while recent reports stated his “ankle doesn’t move”.

Tiger is bidding to become a six-time winner of the Masters.

The walk around Augusta is renowned for hills and the tough terrain could play big role. Winning at the venue is just as much about stamina – both mentally and physically – as it is about playing great golf.

Let’s just enjoy seeing the five-time Masters champion in action once more.

Will there be a LIV Golf winner?

13 players from the Saudi-backed breakaway circuit will be at Augusta National this week, including past champions Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson.

With that said, none of these past winners seem in standout form on LIV Golf, so it’s tricky to select a firm candidate to get the job done. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any one of them don the Green Jacket again on Sunday.

Garcia lost in a play-off at the weekend to Burmester

We saw last year that despite playing less, the LIV Golf stars are still more than capable of competing and winning Majors, proved by Koepka’s PGA Championship triumph. It wouldn’t be a shock to see one of them win the Masters, either.

And, what about McIlroy?

Before last week’s Valero Texas Open, the 34-year-old would have probably taken our “Overhyped” position off Brooks Koepka due to a lack of form.

However, a solid T-3 finish at TPC San Antonio has put hope back in the Northern Irishman’s prospects. His triumph earlier in the year at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic should hopefully give him some extra confidence, too.

He’s clearly more than good enough to win at Augusta National and become a Masters champion, but it’s just whether can calm the demons and ignore the scar tissue he’s accumulated at Augusta over the years to finally get the job done.

This will be the 16th time – yes, 16! – he’s teed it up at Augusta National, with his best finish coming two years ago when he finished 2nd. While he’s got a few more years yet, the clock is admittedly ticking for McIlroy.

If you’re based in the UAE, sign up to DAZN here and watch all four days of the Masters coverage live.

 

 

 

 

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