It’s that magical time of year again. It is The Masters! The weather is getting warmer, the grass is turning green and the trees are close to blossoming. For some, it’s just considered Spring. For us crazed golf fans, it’s considered Masters season. The first major of the year, held at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, is the most iconic of them all. Between the course itself and the deep history, it’s the key major for all professional golfers.
Every year, 90 or so of the best players in the world arrive at Augusta National to play arguably the most iconic golf course in the world. Between the perfectly manicured grounds and amazing layout, the debate is usually short. Add in the fan experience which includes cheap food and drink; you have yourself the perfect major.
The only way to get tickets outside of secondary markets is the Masters lottery. This is the most pure golf experience possible. The galleries seem to be never ending and the roars can be heard across the property. Whether you are there in person or watching on TV, you’re bound to see something special.
Big Cat is Back
This years edition of the masters brings even more excitement then usual. Tiger Woods has said that he plans on playing this year. He’s been away from competitive golf ever since his car accident 14 months ago. Not only is he feeling good enough to play, but he feels as though he has a chance to win. If we’ve learned anything about Tiger Woods, it’s that we shouldn’t doubt him.
As exciting as it is that Tiger is playing, there are a plethora of players that could be wearing the green jacket come late Sunday. While Mr. Woods has been in and out with injuries over the years, young players have made names for themselves. Even though the Masters isn’t typically a tournament young players win, we’ve seen them contend more often in recent years.
Last year we saw the green jacket be worn by Hideki Matsuyama (30) of Japan. Look past Hideki and you had first timer Will Zalatoris (25), the 2015 winner Jordan Spieth (28), Xander Schauffele (28) and reigning U.S. Open champ Jon Rahm (27). All players 30 or under finishing in the top 5. Gone are the days veteran players running the show at Augusta.
Experience plays a huge factor at Augusta, but as the game has evolved, so has the skill of young players. I haven’t even mentioned new world number one Scotty Scheffler. Coming in with three wins in his last five events, no one is hotter. It’s impossible to deeply cover everyone with a real shot to win this weeks Masters. With that said, here are some important names to look out for!
Betting odds are always fun to watch as the first tee shot on Thursday approaches. They do a great job of bringing current form, past Master finishes and world rank into consideration.
- Jon Rahm- Rahm, world number two, is the favorite to win this week and for good reason. He has a major to his name and has four straight top 10’s at Augusta. He has the game to contend anywhere and the mental strength needed to win here. Odds: +1200
- Scotty Scheffler- After his win at the match play event 2 weeks ago, Scheffler became the new world number one. Scotty has won three times this season on three very different courses. His recent form would suggest now is as good of a time as ever for him to pick up major number one. Odds: +1500
- Cameron Smith- Smith has used a great start to the year to work his way from 21st to sixth in the world rankings. He won the Players in impressive fashion and has had success at the Masters including three top 10’s in his five made cuts. Odds: +1500
- Rory McIlroy- Rory hasn’t been playing his best golf as of late. For most golfers that would be taken into consideration, but not with Rory at Augusta. Out of his last seven made cuts, six were top 10 finishes. Augusta is a course he’s played well historically, along with having major winning experience. Odds: +1900
Horse For The Course
I talked earlier about how important experience is at Augusta. If you look back through the leaderboards, a lot of the same names will show up. These players have a history of success overall, but their games also suit Augusta well.
- Louis Oosthuizen- Oosthuizen hasn’t won a Masters, but he does have a major to his name. Louis has finished runner up in all four majors throughout his career. His beautiful ball striking is why he always seems to find himself on the Augusta leaderboard. Odds: +4800
- Tiger Woods- It feels weird having Woods in this category. As someone with five Master wins, you would think he’d be a favorite. The lack of competitive reps and unknown about his injury lead to questions. Even with those questions, he could very well find himself in contention on Sunday. Odds: +5000
- Justin Rose- Rose isn’t the player he was back in his mid 30’s, but he’s still a threat. Justin has made every cut here outside of 2019 and has multiple runner ups. Odds: +7500
- Tony Finau- It hasn’t been the start to the year Finau has wanted. He looked out of sorts until a better showing last week. He has three top 10’s here in his four appearances. Odds: +4800
Under the Radar
Every year there are players filled with high expectation heading into the event. With that, comes a few that may be flying under the radar as well. Here are a few not being talked about as much as they should be given their pedigree.
- Will Zalatoris- Zalatoris took full advantage of his first opportunity at Augusta in 2021 where he finished second. It wasn’t a fluke either as his ball striking is near the top on tour. If his putter cooperates, he could earn his first major. Odds: +3500
- Matthew Fitzpatrick- The name recognition may not be there with Fitzpatrick but the game is. Of his 8 starts this season, four resulted in top 10’s. He’s 6/7 on cuts at Augusta and playing some of the best golf of his career. Odds: +4800
- Paul Casey- If the back spasms from two weeks ago aren’t an issue, Casey is someone to keep an eye on. He is a very good ball striker and can get things rolling quickly. Odds: + 6500
- Marc Leishman- Considering his success and consistency, the burly Australian is often overlooked. He has the ability to thrive in the wind which shows in his recent results here. Odds: +8000
Follow me on twitter at RNGDrew and follow us at WiSportsHeroics for more great content. To read more of our articles and keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin sports, click here! Also, out our merch store for some amazing WSH merchandise!