fbpx
2022 Masters

Masters 2022: The entire field at Augusta National, ranked

By Dan Rapaport

After nine months, the long wait is over, as the men’s major championship season is back.

So, potentially, is Tiger Woods. The 15-time major winner’s possible comeback at Augusta National has dominated headlines ahead of the 86th Masters, and will continue to do so after he announced he was heading to Augusta on Sunday and that his play in the event will be a “game-time decision.” Meanwhile, there are 90 other men in the field who’d quite like to add a certain green piece of outerwear to their wardrobes.

Ahead of the year’s first major, Golf Digest has ranked and profiled each player in the field — since Tiger is still listed among the competitors, we’ve got him ranked, too. Happy reading, and Happy Masters week!

91: Sandy Lyle

Age: 64 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 40

Best Masters finish: Win, 1988

The two-time major winner has missed the cut in each of his last seven Masters starts, and you have to think he’s thought about when his last trip around Amen Corner might be. Let’s hope he brings back the overalls this year.

90: Larry Mize

Age: 63 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 38

Best Masters finish: Win, 1987

Hard to have more Augusta ties — he was born there, worked as a teenager at the tournament, went to Georgia Tech, won his lone major at the Masters and still lives in the Peach State. His career has been defined by a chip that’s no longer possible given the recontouring of the 11th green. Has missed the cut in four straight Masters.

89: Jose Maria Olazabal

Age: 56 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 32

Best Masters finish: Win, 1994, 1999

An all-time short gamer who chipped and putted his way to two Masters titles in the 1990s. He’ll be pleased to have made the cut in last year’s tournament for the first time since 2014, and doing so again this year would be constitute a success.

88: Aaron Jarvis (a)

Age: 19 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First

Won the Latin American Amateur in January and will become the first player from the Cayman Islands to play in the Masters. Currently a freshman at UNLV, he went to high school in the Orlando area. Ranked 829th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

87: Vijay Singh

Age: 59 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 28

Best Masters finish: Win, 2000

If you follow him on Instagram you’ll know he’s still working out like a 25-year-old despite creeping up on 60. Still loves to compete and plays regularly on the PGA Tour Champions. Has failed to make the weekend in 12 of his last 13 starts against non-seniors and last made the cut at the Masters in 2018.

86: Fred Couples

Age: 62 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 36

Best Masters finish: Win, 1992

He’s frequently cited as one of the older guys who can still hang at Augusta, and for good reason — he’s made the cut in 30 of his 36 career Masters starts and finished T-18 as recently as 2017. But he’s missed the cut in each of his last three starts and while Augusta continues to lengthen, his 62-year-old body is going the other direction. “My back has been brutal,” he told PGATour.com, and has not played competitively since last November. In the meantime, he got married for the third time in February.

85: James Piot (a)

Age: 23 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First

The reigning US Amateur champion is playing a fifth year at Michigan State. Will have his college assistant coach on the bag. Ranked 125th in Golfstat’s college rankings and 49th in the PGA Tour University listing of outgoing.

84: Mike Weir

Age: 51 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 22

Best Masters finish: Win, 2003

Game fell off sharply in his 40s, but he’s been rejuvenated by a strong start to his PGA Tour Champions career. It’s a lot of golf course for him at this stage of his career, however, and he’s made the cut just once in his last seven Masters starts.

83: Austin Greaser (a)

Age: 21 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First

The junior at North Carolina finished runner-up in the US Amateur at Oakmont and ranks 34th in Golfstat college golfer ranking. This will mark not only his first Masters, but his first start in a tournament against professionals.

82: Laird Shepherd (a)

Age: 24 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: First

Englishman came back from an eight-down deficit — yes, eight — to win the British Amateur at Nairn Golf Club. Has played in four DP World Tour events since, including the Open Championship and made the cut once. Ranked 49th in the WAGR.

81: Guido Migliozzi

Age: 25 World Ranking: 129 Masters appearances: First

Caught a heater last summer, finishing second in back-to-back DP World Tour events before tying for fourth at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which is how this Italian—the name didn’t give it away?—is in the field. Not playing at that level this year, however, with five missed cuts and a T-67 to show for in six starts on the DPWT.

80: Hudson Swafford

Age: 34 World Ranking: 79 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: MC, 2017, 2021

Now a three-time PGA Tour winner after his victory at The American Express in Palm Springs in January. That’s about as far away from major championship conditions as is possible, and he’s missed the cut in all six career majors he’s played in and four of the five Players Championships.

79: Cameron Davis

Age: 27 World Ranking: 96 Masters appearances: First

Big Aussie won last year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic out of nowhere but has just one top-20 finish in 27 starts since. Making his first Masters start after nearly qualifying as an amateur — he finished second in the 2016 Asia-Pacific Amateur — and just his third start in a major overall. Comes in having missed the cut in three of his last four starts, and making the weekend would put a smile on his face.

78: Padraig Harrington

Age: 50 World Ranking: 148 Masters appearances: 15

Best Masters finish: T-5, 2002, 2008

Last year’s losing Ryder Cup captain is back at Augusta for the first time since 2015, and it has nothing to do with his captaincy — Harrington finished tied for fourth at the 2021 PGA and clearly still believes he can compete with the youngsters. Works harder than virtually anyone even at his age and does have a top-10 finish in Europe earlier this season. As he’s not a past champion, this could well be the last time he tees it up at this hallowed ground.

77: Charl Schwartzel

Age: 37 World Ranking: 172 Masters appearances: 12

Best Masters finish: Win, 2011

No one can ever take away that birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie finish to win in 2011. Had a semi-resurgent 2021 season with a T-3 at the AT&T Byron Nelson and a runner-up at the 3M Open, but no dice so far this year. He’s played six events on the PGA Tour in 2022 and missed the cut in all six. Yikes.

76: Stewart Hagestad (a)

Age: 30 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 1

Best Masters finish: T-36, 2017

The world’s best mid-amateur has a gig you’ll be jealous of. Played golf at USC, worked in NYC real estate and is in the final year of an MBA programme back in Los Angeles. Won the Mid-Am for the second time last October to book his second Masters trip — he won low amateur in 2017 — and fifth major start overall, having qualified for the US Open three straight years from 2017-19. Ranked No. 14 in the WAGR and has played on the last three Walker Cup teams.

75: Danny Willett

Age: 34 World Ranking: 161 Masters appearances: 7

Best Masters finish: Win, 2016

Does have three wins in Europe since his Masters victory on that windy week six years ago, but between those isolated good weeks have been some pretty barren stretches. Has not posted a top-30 finish on either the DP World Tour or the PGA Tour this season.

74: Keita Nakajima (a)

Age: 21 World Ranking: 239 Masters appearances: First

The world’s top ranked amateur entered the Asia-Pacific Amateur in Dubai as the favourite, wanted desperately to win to watch in person his countryman Hideki Matsuyama defend his title, and got the job done. That’s a helluva performance. He’s performed well in the various professional events he’s competed at home — to get inside the top 250 of the World Rankings as an amateur is pretty impressive — and finished T-28 at the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship and 41st at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Will also feature in the upcoming Netflix docuseries as he’s set to play in the US Open and Open Championship as well. You’ll be hearing more of this name.

73: Zach Johnson

Age: 46 World Ranking: 213 Masters appearances: 17

Best Masters finish: Win, 2007

His play is no longer his sole focus as he was named Ryder Cup captain for the US side that will try to win on European soil for the first time since 1993. The course has been beefed up considerably since his plucky victory in nasty weather in 2007, and he hasn’t finish inside the top 35 at the Masters since 2015.

72: Garrick Higgo

Age: 22 World Ranking: 85 Masters appearances: First

Won in just his second career PGA Tour start at the Palmetto Championship to go from promising young player in Europe to full PGA Tour status. Johannesburg native spent a minute at UNLV before moving back home to turn professional but is back in the US living in the Sea Island, Ga. area. Has a habit of closing out tournaments when he gets a sniff, having won five times worldwide between February 2020 and June 2021. Has hit a wall in his first full season on the PGA Tour, however, with a season-best finish of T-21 and two missed cuts coming into his first Masters appearance.

71: Cameron Champ

Age: 26 World Ranking: 134 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-19, 2020

One of the harder guys to analyse: He’s 26 with three victories, a jaw-droppingly athletic swing — he leads the PGA Tour with a 320-yard driving average — and good head on his shoulders. And yet his game remains frustratingly one-dimensional, ranking outside the top 150 in every core strokes-gained category beside off the tee. Has the firepower to make a ton of birdies, and his length means he’ll eat up Augusta’s par 5s so long as he drives it straight. But the course requires too much touch and guile for his current game.

70: Bernhard Langer

Age: 64 World Ranking: N/A Masters appearances: 38

Best Masters finish: Win, 1985, 1993

An ageless wonder, Langer remains the premier player on the PGA Tour Champions despite creeping toward 65. Won his 43rd senior tour title at the Chubb Classic in February and had made the cut in three straight Masters before missing it in 2021. One of these years he’ll turn up and realise he can’t compete anymore, and it’ll be a very sad day for golf when that happens, but it will not be this year. The oldest player in the field, but we’d bet he can do more sit-ups than 50 percent of the others.

69: J.J. Spaun

Age: 31 World Ranking: 103 Masters appearances: First

A case-study in how quickly fortunes can turn in this game. Had been grinding on the fringes of the PGA Tour for a half-decade before winning last week’s Valero Texas Open and claiming the last spot into the Masters field. Now he’s got job security for two years — and a last-minute flight from San Antonio to Augusta.

68: Stewart Cink

Age: 48 World Ranking: 73 Masters appearances: 19

Best Masters finish: T-3, 2008

Didn’t win once for the old guys last year — he did it twice, winning the first event of the 2020-21 season and the first event after last year’s Masters, the RBC Heritage. That locked up full PGA Tour status until he qualifies for the PGA Tour Champions, which will mark 23 consecutive years he’s kept his card. Georgia Tech grad who now lives outside Atlanta has the most Masters starts of any non-past champion in the field, with a best finish of T-3 in 2008. Tied for 12th last year and comes in with some good vibes off a T-7 at the Valspar, his first top-10 finish on tour since that Heritage victory last spring.

67: Francesco Molinari

Age: 39 World Ranking: 185 Masters appearances: 10

Best Masters finish: T-5, 2019

Career simply hasn’t been the same since rinsing that tee ball on No. 12 during the final round at Augusta in 2019. He continues to tease us with the odd solid finish — a T-6 at January’s American Express, for example — but just hasn’t been able to sustain any momentum that would qualify as a resurgence to his 2018-19 form, which was among the best in the world. Once a ruthlessly consistent ball-striker, he’s now below average in virtually every significant ball striking statistic.

66: Webb Simpson

Age: 36 World Ranking: 39 Masters appearances: 10

Best Masters finish: T-5, 2019

Spoke openly about his disappointment missing out on last year’s Ryder Cup and how that’s motivating him this year. His body, however, has had other plans. Been battling a neck injury that’s forced him to withdraw from a few events, and he hasn’t looked his usual self in the four he has played in 2022. Does play Augusta well, however, with four straight top-20 finishes with two top-10s drizzled in. Always fighting an uphill battle in the distance department but he’s added some length and, at times in 2020, was playing at a top-five level.

65: Takumi Kanaya

Age: 23 World Ranking: 50 Masters appearances: 1

Best Masters finish: T-58, 2019

Former World No. 1 amateur has excelled on the Japanese Tour and thus climbed inside the top 50 of the World Ranking to get back to Augusta. Played the Masters once previously, making the cut as an amateur in 2019 but losing out on low-amateur honours to Viktor Hovland. Picked up his second PGA Tour top-10 of the season — he finished T-7 in his native Japan at the Zozo Championship — with a quarter-final loss in WGC-Dell Match Play, but the money and World Ranking points count all the same. Hopes to play on the PGA Tour and could move a long way toward that goal with a strong finish at the Masters. One of three Japanese players in the field.

64: Min Woo Lee

Age: 23 World Ranking: 59 Masters appearances: First

Long been considered one of the more exciting prospects in golf — he won the US Junior Am in 2016 and has a gorgeous move — the young Australian gets his first crack at the Masters on the strength of a strong second half of 2021. Won the Scottish Open against a loaded field last summer and added two more top-four finishes in Europe to squeeze inside the top 50 at the right time. Bit of a rude awakening stateside thus far in 2022, as he’s played three stroke-play events and missed the cut in all three. His older sister, Minjee, is a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour and won last year’s Evian Championship for her first major. She’s expected to caddie for Min Woo in the Par-3 Contest.

63: Lucas Glover

Age: 42 World Ranking: 105 Masters appearances: 8

Best Masters finish: T-20, 2007

Ended a decade-plus winless streak with a victory at last year’s John Deere Classic, which is how he’s back in the field. Has enjoyed a solid career on tour but hasn’t quite blossomed into the player his 2009 US Open victory suggested he could be. Iron play has been strong this year, and he’s from up the road in Greenville.

62: Harry Higgs

Age: 30 World Ranking: 162 Masters appearances: First

Big boy and big personality who should shine in the upcoming Netflix docuseries following the PGA Tour. SMU graduate will bring his unbuttoned shirt and wayfarer shades to Augusta for the first time thanks to a top-five finish at the PGA at Kiawah last year. He’s got just one top-10 finish since and comes in having missed five of his last nine cuts with no finishes better than T-39. Would pay top dollar to see him take his shirt off at Augusta’s 16th as he did at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th.

61: Mackenzie Hughes

Age: 31 World Ranking: 58 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-40, 2021

Got into the field by being in the top 50 of the World Ranking at the end of 2021, the product of a very strong fall that produced two top-four finishes. Had an impressive major season last year, playing in the final group of the US Open on Sunday and taking T-6 at Royal St George’s. Missed the cut in his last three stroke-play starts coming in. Part of an impressive generation of Canadians establishing themselves on the PGA Tour.

60: Si Woo Kim

Age: 26 World Ranking: 49 Masters appearances: 5

Best Masters finish: T-12, 2021

Hard to believe he’s only 26, given he’s five years removed now from shooting to relevance by winning the Players. Known as something of a Pete Dye specialist, with two of his three career wins come on Dye-designed layouts, but Kim clearly likes Allister Mackenzie’s design in Georgia as well — he’s finished T-34 or better in each of his last four Masters starts, including a T-12 last year that guaranteed him a return to Augusta … and that came despite breaking his putter and having to navigate those devilish greens with a 3-wood for half the back nine on Friday.

59: Ryan Palmer

Age: 45 World Ranking: 78 Masters appearances: 6

Best Masters finish: 10, 2011

Pushed his way into semi-Ryder Cup contention last year but has steadily slid down the World Ranking as he’s missed three of his last four cuts. He’s about as veteran as veteran can get — knows his game, knows his limitations, has served in basically every leadership role on tour and has more than $31 million in career earnings to show for it. Just two top-10 finishes in 34 career major starts, and he’s not getting any younger.

58: Kevin Na

Age: 38 World Ranking: 30 Masters appearances: 10

Best Masters finish: T-12, 2021

Pushed for a Ryder Cup pick with his play toward the end of last season but was not selected, and it’s hard to argue given the results. Posted his first top-10 of the season at the WGC-Match Play, which feels asterisk-worthy, and ranks outside the top 100 in all six key strokes-gained categories. He’s a threat on his style of golf courses, typically shorter and more angly setups that negate distance, and Augusta has been moving in the other direction. That said, he’s posted top-15 finishes in each of his last two Masters starts and has made seven of 10 cuts.

57: Patrick Reed

Age: 31 World Ranking: 31 Masters appearances: 8

Best Masters finish: Win, 2018

Sliding down the World Ranking as his ball-striking is in borderline-dire shape. Left his longtime coach Kevin Kirk for David Leadbetter only to go back Kirk recently, an indication of where his confidence is at. He ranks 202nd in strokes gained/off the tee, 198th in strokes gained/approach and is averaging just 285 yards off the tee, which is nearly 15 yards less than his average the year he won his green jacket. He’ll be hoping for some Magnolia Lane magic, and it’s not impossible — he had top-10s in each of his last two Masters appearances, and he still has one of the best short games on the planet. There’s no better place to show it off than Augusta National.

56: Sepp Straka

Age: 28 World Ranking: 72 Masters appearances: First

Yet another Georgia Bulldog in the field, this big boy was born in Austria before relocating to Valdosta at age 14. Won his first PGA Tour title with a rock-solid performance at the Honda Classic and had a top-10 at the Players Championship. He’s not as long off the tee as you’d expect given his size, but he rolls it beautifully and will have some familiarity with the course from his days at UGa. (The team plays Augusta National once a year). Would be quite the scene if he played his way on to the European Ryder Cup team with a Valdosta accent.

55: K.H. Lee

Age: 30 World Ranking: 80 Masters appearances: First

Missed his first cut of the wraparound season then made 11 in a row heading into the Valero Texas Open. Picked up his first PGA Tour win by shooting 25 under at the AT&T Byron Nelson last May. According to his tour profile, he’s quite the renaissance man: He has a great voice but is shy singing in front of others; was a shot-put athlete before taking up golf to lose weight and has a motto of “a rolling stone gathers no moss.” Who knew?!

54: Jason Kokrak

Age: 36 World Ranking: 28 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: 49, 2021

Part of a seemingly dying breed in modern golf — those who don’t peak until their mid-30s. Won his first PGA Tour event after more than 220 starts in October 2020 then added two more during the next 11 months. Hasn’t done much this year, however, with no top-15 finishes in eight worldwide starts, and he’s been in the news more for his relationship with Golf Saudi than for his play. Zero top-15 finishes in 18 career major starts.

53: Lucas Herbert

Age: 26 World Ranking: 44 Masters appearances: First

The Australian — it’s her-bert, not air-bare — got his PGA Tour card through Korn Ferry finals and promptly won his third start as a member at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, which now awards its winner with a Masters invite. Missed as many cuts as he’s made thus far in his rookie campaign but has shown some better form since with a T-7 at the Arnold Palmer and a strong showing at the WGC-Match Play … until a sudden-death playoff to advance from group stage, which ended when he bricked a three-footer. Has played the other three majors at least twice and now gets his first crack at the Masters.

52: Thomas Pieters

Age: 30 World Ranking: 33 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-40, 2021

Pardon the shameless plug, but a recent article by a certain writer tells the story of the Belgian’s career quite nicely. Burst onto the scene at the 2016 Ryder Cup as perhaps the only good performer on the European Ryder Cup side and looked destined for stardom after a T-4 in his Masters debut in 2017. But professional golf isn’t for everyone; he hated travelling back and forth between Europe and the United States, and his game suffered. Rebounded in a big way toward the end of 2021 into 2022 with two big wins in Europe, which has him back inside the top 50 of the World Ranking and back at the Masters for the first time since 2018. Now partnered and with a daughter, he’s playing more on this side of the pond but with limited success so far — he missed the cut at the Genesis and Players and failed to advance at the match play. Still prone to an outburst of anger.

51: Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Age: 27 World Ranking: 63 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-38, 2020

Young South African has won three times in Europe and has spent a good chunk of time inside the top 50 of the World Ranking, which is how he played in eight major championships before finally securing a PGA Tour card at last fall’s Korn Ferry Tour finals. Off to a solid if unremarkable start to his rookie campaign, having made 10 of 12 cuts but not posting anything better than a T-14. One of the shorter hitters in the top 100, he does everything else slightly better than average but you struggle to see a specific area of the game in which he excels. Plays tough courses well, where he can sort of cruise along and creep up the leader board, but not sure he has the firepower to contend at Augusta National.

50: Lee Westwood

Age: 48 World Ranking: 65 Masters appearances: 20

Best Masters finish: 2, 2010

Been as close as humanly possible to winning a major without actually winning one. That includes two runner-up finishes at Augusta, where he was a fixture on the first page of Masters leader boards throughout the 2010s. Hasn’t been the same in recent years, and he’s slid considerably in the World Ranking after getting back inside the top 20 last year.

49: Robert MacIntyre

Age: 25 World Ranking: 74 Masters appearances: 1

Best Masters finish: T-12, 2021

Baby-faced lefty has long been considered Scotland’s best hope but he’s stalled a bit and sits well outside the top 50 in the World Ranking. His major record however, is highly impressive — seven starts, seven made cuts and three top-12 finishes, including a T-12 at last year’s Masters got him his return ticket. Tried to earn a PGA Tour card through the Korn Ferry Finals last year and missed the cut in both of his starts, so it does seem playing a dual PGA Tour-DP World Tour schedule is the goal. Tied for 15th in the Genesis Invitational against a loaded field.

48: Bryson DeChambeau

Age: 28 World Ranking: 19 Masters appearances: 5

Best Masters finish: T-21, 2016

All eyes were on him at last year’s Masters — he was coming off a seismic US Open victory, a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a T-3 at the Players. Augusta, however, had the last laugh, as DeChambeau never factored in a T-46 finish. The greens’ tiny landing areas, the uneven lies and elevation changes have frustrated a man who tries to take variables out of the game and turn it into a science. He’s still not improved on his T-21 finish as an amateur in 2016, and his season has been derailed by a fractured hamate bone in his left hand, an injury he first said was caused solely by a fall, but later acknowledged to Golf Channel his workout regimen played a role. He returned to competition after a two-month absence at the WGC-Dell Match Play and went winless, then missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open. You wonder if his body is tapping out and an extended break might be on the way. He did, however, say he wasn’t going at his driver 100 percent and wouldn’t be able to do so until Masters week. Now’s that time.

47: Harold Varner III

Age: 31 World Ranking: 40 Masters appearances: First

Grabbed one of the last Augusta invites by way of his World Ranking. Still looking for his first win on the PGA Tour but won in Saudi Arabia in the most dramatic way possible, holing a 91-foot eagle putt for a one-shot victory. He’s hung around plenty of loaded leader boards and played in the final pairing of the 2019 PGA Championship but hasn’t been able to deliver his best stuff down the stretch on Sunday yet. One of the more popular players on tour for his ebullient personality. Never short on desire and few work harder.

46: Matthew Wolff

Age: 22 World Ranking: 45 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: MC, 2020

Reached the nadir of his personal struggles at last year’s Masters, when he shot a million, looked miserable doing so and was disqualified after the round for signing an incorrect scorecard. Took time away from the game shortly thereafter to prioritise his happiness and has since returned in far better spirits, but the game’s lagging a bit, with two missed cuts and a T-61 in his last three stroke-play starts. Has yet to play the weekend at the Masters, but it’s actually a pretty good course fit for him: It affords space to spray it off the tee, and he can eat up the par 5s with his length. Began his major-championship career with two top-four finishes, so it’s in there somewhere. Still just 22 years old.

45: Tiger Woods

Age: 46 World Ranking: 973 Masters appearances: 23

Best Masters finish: Win, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019

On Sunday, Tiger posted on social media that he coming to Augusta and that it would be a “game-time decision” whether he played or not. It almost feels inappropriate to discuss his on-course prospects given how remarkable it is that he (might) be competing. Key word there being almost, so let’s dive-in. Woods flashed a PGA Tour-ready game from 150 yards-and-in at the PNC Championship alongside his son, but a hit-and-giggle on a dead-flat course in Florida is essentially a different sport from the Masters. Assuming the short game will be tight — he’s had plenty of time to practise it when he still wasn’t cleared for full-swing work — there remain a ton of questions about his game. What will his ball speed look like? How will he hold up late in rounds? Uneven lies? How much pain will he be in? Woods has returned from long layoffs at Augusta in the past and had relative success (a T-4 in 2010, a T-17 in 2015) but even for a man with his injury history, this is uncharted territory. He certainly believes he can contend, or he wouldn’t be playing. And if there’s one person who could do it after a 14-month layoff due to a horrific car accident, it’s him. Still, this is along the tallest tasks possible in golf.

44: Tom Hoge

Age: 32 World Ranking: 38 Masters appearances: First

Enjoyed the best stretch of his career through the west coast, where he finished solo second at the American Express then chased down Jordan Spieth to win his first PGA Tour title at Pebble Beach. North Dakota native and TCU grad has been streaky throughout his career as his swing is somewhat timing-dependent, but he’s comfortable going low and can get extremely hot with his irons. Makes his first Masters start at 32.

43: Luke List

Age: 37 World Ranking: 57 Masters appearances: 1

Best Masters finish: T-33, 2005

A feel-good story, he lives in Augusta and is making his first start at the Masters since 2005, when he made the cut after finishing runner-up in the US Amateur. Did not play a single major between 2008 and 2016, and he’s bounced between the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Tour but finally earned some job security with a career-shifting first tour win at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. Missed the cut in his next two starts after that W and withdrew from the Players Championship but he looked solid early at the Valero Texas Open. He’s always been a great ball-striker, long and straight, and ranks sixth in SG/off the tee, 13th in SG/approach and first in SG/tee to green for the year. He’ll go as his putter goes, but his game should translate well to Augusta National.

42: Abraham Ancer

Age: 31 World Ranking: 15 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-13, 2020

Played in the final group in his first Masters start but shot 76 to drop out of the top 10. Finally won first PGA Tour event at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Classic last summer but has got off to a slowish start this year. Aside from his quarter-finals appearance at the WGC-Dell Match Play, which included a 7-and-6 beatdown of Collin Morikawa, his best finish in seven PGA Tour starts in 2022 is a T-33. Normally rock-solid from 100 yards and in, his short game has been something of an Achilles heel this year as he ranks near dead-last in SG/around the green and 106th in SG/putting. One of the few players on tour without a swing coach and says he’s never had a golf lesson in his life. Withdrew from last week’s Valero Texas Open, likely out of an abundance of caution, but worth waiting for an update before depending on him this week.

41: Seamus Power

Age: 35 World Ranking: 41 Masters appearances: First

Irishman is set to make first career start in a major at 35, and he might be the best golfer your friends have never heard of. Was on the Monday qualifier grind before winning the Barbasol Championship last summer when all the big boys were at the Open Championship, and has kept it rolling, picking off top-20s frequently to climb inside the top 50 of the World Ranking. Some of the shine had worn off as he missed three straight cuts through the West Coast but he played solidly at the Players and got to the quarters of the match play.

40: Bubba Watson

Age: 43 World Ranking: 68 Masters appearances: 13

Best Masters finish: Win, 2012, 2014

Hard to believe it’s been a full decade since Gerry Lester Watson Jr became a one-namer: Bubba. His rope-hook gap wedge from the pine straw to win 10 years ago is etched in Masters lore. Now well north of 40, he’s no longer the consistent threat he was in his 30s but he’s still got plenty of pop off the tee and his comfort with shaping the ball both ways always plays well at Augusta. He’s a good bet to join the Fred Couples/Bernhard Langer tier as a guy who can compete at the Masters long after his days on the PGA Tour are over. Putting has been a hindrance this season as has been the case in recent years.

39: Talor Gooch

Age: 30 World Ranking: 34 Masters appearances: First

A late-ish bloomer, he’d been slowly creeping up the World Ranking and establishing himself as a top-tier player, punctuated by a victory at last fall’s RSM Classic. Soft-spoken Oklahoma native and Oklahoma State graduate swings the club beautifully and his steady-eddy game would seem to translate well into major championships. A missed cut at the Players knocked some of the shine off, but he was a part of the late-early wave that got hosed, and so his last non-weather affected stroke-play start (that’s a lot of qualifiers, but stick with me) was a T-7 at the Arnold Palmer. He’ll be full of confidence ahead of his first Masters, even if he’d never tell you.

38: Gary Woodland

Age: 37 World Ranking: 90 Masters appearances: 9

Best Masters finish: T-24, 2011

Slowly showing some life after dropping as low as 139th in the World Ranking. Posted back-to-back top-five finishes in Florida and had a legitimate chance to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational before finishing double bogey/bogey. That was his first time in contention in what feels like forever, and he seems to be in a good place with both his body and his game. The problem is his curiously bad record at Augusta — he’s failed to post even one top-20 finish in nine career starts.

37: Justin Rose

Age: 41 World Ranking: 56 Masters appearances: 16

Best Masters finish: 2, 2017

Missed his first Ryder Cup team since 2010 after a disappointing 2021 that’s he’s hoping is just a blip on the radar and not the beginning of a decline. Played solidly on the West Coast but missed the cut in both his starts in Florida and hasn’t done much recently to suggest he’s ready to contend. The same was true last year, however, but he led by four after a preposterously good 65 on Thursday amid tough conditions. He slowly slipped down the leader board but still finished solo seventh, his sixth top-10 at Augusta. His playoff loss to Sergio Garcia in 2017 still looms large. Even throughout this prolonged stretch of meh play he’s had his share of really strong weeks — he also took T-8 at the PGA at Kiawah last year — he’s simply not as consistent as he used to be on a week-in week-out basis. But all he needs is four good rounds.

36: Hideki Matsuyama

Age: 30 World Ranking: 12 Masters appearances: 10

Best Masters finish: Win, 2021

Major injury concerns for the defending champion, who withdrew from the Players (back), skipped the WGC-Match Play, then withdrew during his second round of the Valero Texas Open (neck). Terrible timing, as he was playing some fantastic golf with win in Japan last autumn and playoff victory at Sony Open in January. Amazing what one week in Augusta can do for a player’s narrative — and his confidence. This time last year, Matsuyama was 25th in the world and slowly fading from relevance, still plagued by an uncooperating putter and in danger of receiving the “Underachiever” moniker. Then he wins the Masters to deliver Japan its first men’s major champion and becomes a stone-cold killer in crunch time. Absolutely a threat to repeat … if, of course, his body cooperates.

35: Marc Leishman

Age: 38 World Ranking: 43 Masters appearances: 9

Best Masters finish: T-4, 2013

Easygoing Aussie loves him some Augusta National; he has three top-10s and two top-fives, including a rock-solid T-5 in 2021. Started the fall on a heater and has played generally solid throughout the season, though he did limp through the Florida swing with a T-68 at Bay Hill and a missed cut at the Players. His game never depended on power much, which explains why his record in the Masters and Open Championship are far superior to the other two majors. He’ll offer some good value in DFS formats.

34: Tommy Fleetwood

Age: 31 World Ranking: 47 Masters appearances: 5

Best Masters finish: T-17, 2018

Nearly dropped out of the top 50 in the World Ranking, which will happen if you fail to post any top-end finishes for roughly a year. Found some form in Florida, starting with a T-20 at Bay Hill and carrying through an opening-round lead at the Players and a T-16 at the Valspar. Still looking for that first win on US soil, and it’s possible his relative drop in form will take some of the pressure off and, counterintuitively, bring that maiden victory sooner. Made the weekend in four of his Masters starts but hasn’t exactly challenged for the green jacket.

33: Russell Henley

Age: 32 World Ranking: 42 Masters appearances: 5

Best Masters finish: T-11, 2017

He’s been one of the best iron players on tour for the last five years and leads in SG/approach, which typically indicates a hyper-elite player. The rest of his game, however, lags slightly behind, though he is playing perhaps the best golf of his career. Blew a five-shot lead on the back nine to lose the Sony Open in Hawaii but has finished T-33 or better in each of his five stroke-play starts since. Born in Macon and educated in Athens, he’ll be thrilled to be back at Augusta for the first time since 2018.

32: Kevin Kisner

Age: 38 World Ranking: 27 Masters appearances: 6

Best Masters finish: T-21, 2019

Comes in off yet another impressive performance at WGC-Match Play, where he reached the final for the third time in four years only to run into Scottie Scheffler’s buzzsaw. Grew up and resides just across the South Carolina border in Aiken but has not played particularly well at the Masters, with missed cuts in each of his past two starts and no top-20 finishes. He specialises on shorter layouts that reward accuracy over distance, and Augusta no longer falls into that category. That said, a fierce competitor who can get ultra-hot with the putter.

31: Erik van Rooyen

Age: 32 World Ranking: 64 Masters appearances: 1

Best Masters finish: WD, 2020

Delighted to be back at the Masters and wash away a frustrating first Augusta experience, when he withdrew after an opening-round 76 due to a back injury. Was hovering around the 125th spot in the FedEx Cup last season before winning the Barracuda and making a run through the playoffs to the Tour Championship … which has him back in the four majors in 2022. The beauty of his swing is equaled only by the beauty of his moustache, which has reached Daniel-Day-Lewis-in-Gangs-of-New-York territory.

30: Adam Scott

Age: 41 World Ranking: 36 Masters appearances: 20

Best Masters finish: Win, 2013

He’s putted the ball really well in his last three starts, which is all he needs to see to feel he has a chance. That, and this being the site of the crowning achievement of his career, becoming the first Australian to win the Masters. Now north of 40 he seems to be more unbothered than ever as far as his schedule (he plays sparingly) and his sartorial choices (he wore the same colored sweater four days in a row at the Genesis in a surefire troll move). The carefree golfer is a dangerous golfer, and Scotty surely knows his way around Augusta National. A virtual certainty to make the weekend as he’s made the cut in 18 of his 20 Masters starts and each of the last 12.

29: Sergio Garcia

Age: 42 World Ranking: 52 Masters appearances: 22

Best Masters finish: Win, 2017

Returns to the site of the greatest day of his career, beating Justin Rose to win that elusive first major five years ago. He has yet to play a weekend round at Augusta since, missing the cut in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and missing the 2020 edition due to COVID-19. Showed at last year’s Ryder Cup that he has plenty left in that ball-striking tank and has made the cut in each of his last nine worldwide starts. Interestingly enough, he’s gained shots putting in each of his last three starts but lost ground with his approach play, the inverse of his typical rhythm.

28: Max Homa

Age: 31 World Ranking: 37 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: MC, 2020, 2021

Going on three years now that he’s been more than just the “Twitter Guy.” Had two wins in 2021: the stacked Genesis Invitational and the Fortinet Championship to begin this wraparound season. He’s now firmly entrenched in the top 50 of the World Ranking, which gets him into all the majors … but he’s been bitterly disappointed in them, having missed the cut in six of his last seven starts, including both Masters. He’s a cerebral fellow and will have analysed why that’s happened, flushed it from memory and be eager to start anew. Tends to play well on the West Coast and did so again this year, with a T-14 in Phoenix and a T-10 at the Genesis, and carried it over into Florida with two top-20s at Bay Hill and the Players.

27: Tony Finau

Age: 32 World Ranking: 23 Masters appearances: 4

Best Masters finish: T-5, 2019

Finally picked up that first post-Puerto Rico win at last year’s Northern Trust, a victory many predicted would open the proverbial floodgates. Instead, his game has seen to go in the opposite direction. One of the more consistent players over the past four years has stumbled into a rough patch. His lone top-30 finish in his last nine starts is a T-19 at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions, and his putting has become an issue. He’s got to hope recent form seems to matter a bit less on a course as distinct as Augusta National, where his history has been terrific — he has three top-10 finishes in four starts (en route to 10 top-10s in 22 career major starts). There’s little doubt a player of his talent will right the ship, and given the fresh-slate feelings that come when driving up Magnolia Lane, he’s a semi-sleeper.

26: Brian Harman

Age: 35 World Ranking: 51 Masters appearances: 3

Best Masters finish: T-12, 2021

Georgia born and Georgia Bulldog bred, he’s not going to overpower a golf course, but he’s a gamer who maximises his physical ability. Finished inside the top 20 in three of the four majors last year, including the Masters, so it’s not like he only factors on the dink-and-dunk courses. Last stroke-play start yielded a T-5 at the Valspar, so the form is solid. Leans rather heavily on his wedge game and putting, a style that quite resembles 2007 Masters champions Zach Johnson.

25: Joaquin Niemann

Age: 23 World Ranking: 20 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-40, 2021

Niemann is still just a baby — at 23, he’s nearly a full year younger than Viktor Hovland — which makes his commanding wire-to-wire win at Riviera in February all the more impressive. His swing might best illustrate the modern move: a ton of side-bend on the downswing and a bent and tucked right elbow at impact. It produces remarkably straight shots, and while he’s primarily played a lower ball flight in years past, he’s become more comfortable throwing it way up in the air. That’s a necessity in majors, and after a slow start in the big four early in his career he’s made his last five cuts. Not quite a finished product but has all the tools to become a major champion — and his performance at Riviera, a major-type course, suggests he’s already got the game to do it.

24: Louis Oosthuizen

Age: 39 World Ranking: 14 Masters appearances: 13

Best Masters finish: 2, 2012

Took second or third in four of the last five major championships, an extremely impressive if borderline quixotic run. Will that second major ever come? If anyone deserves it it’s the sweet-swinging South African, who seems magnetised to the first page of top-tier leader boards but has faltered when the finish line comes into view. Closest he got to title No. 2 was 10 years ago at Augusta, when he double-eagled the par-5 second before eventually losing to Bubba Watson in a playoff. The thing is, that’s his only top-10 finish in 13 career Masters starts though he has been T-29 or better in his last four. Still searching for his first top-10 finish of the season. Always a great top-10 bet in any major, but it’ll require more guts than I possess to back him to win outright.

23: Corey Conners

Age: 30 World Ranking: 32 Masters appearances: 4

Best Masters finish: T-8, 2021

Among the best ball-strikers, the Canadian was the only player to finish inside the top 10 in both SG/off the tee and SG/approach last season. Blessed with a syrupy swing that produces beautiful baby cuts, he’s a pleasure to watch on the driving range. On the course, he defeated Dustin Johnson to finish third the WGC-Match Play and has top-10s in each of last two Masters. The question with him, as always, is whether the putter can heat up enough to pick off a big victory. Can’t say for certain, but gotta think he’s the only player on tour with a degree in Actuarial Mathematics.

22: Tyrrell Hatton

Age: 30 World Ranking: 16 Masters appearances: 5

Best Masters finish: T-18, 2021

Never a dull moment watching this fiery Brit, so make use of the Masters’ coverage of every group if you want some laughs. His constant complaining aside, he’s off to an excellent start to the year — seven worldwide starts have yielded seven finishes of T-28 or better, including four top-10s and a runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Much of the strong play has been thanks to a hot putter, which has seen him gain shots on the field in seven straight measured tournaments, but he’s historically not been as successful on bentgrass. He’s also been prone to a big-stage clunker, with five missed cuts in his last seven major championship starts. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pick off a major in the coming years, but Augusta National might be the worst fit of the four.

21: Sungjae Im

Age: 23 World Ranking: 26 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-2, 2020

Carded second PGA Tour tour title in Las Vegas last auumn and started 2022 strong, posting top-10s at Kapalua and Torrey Pines and a T-11 in Palm Springs. Been a bit slower since as his ball-striking has let him down some over his last three starts. Finished T-2 behind Dustin Johnson in his first Masters start, but that deserves an asterisk given the November date and the pillow-soft nature of the course. After playing his first few years on tour without a home in the US and living hotel to hotel, Im has settled in the Atlanta area … so maybe this is sort of a home game?!?

20: Daniel Berger

Age: 28 World Ranking: 21 Masters appearances: 4

Best Masters finish: T-10, 2016

One of these days we’ll begin to properly appreciate golf’s most underrated player. Built a five-shot lead after three rounds at the Honda Classic before throwing it away with a horrific putting day. Hung around the first page of the leader board all week at the Players before getting into a testy exchange with Viktor Hovland, with whom he disagreed as far as where his ball crossed a water hazard. Ranked 18th in driving distance his rookie season on tour but has made a concerted effort to hit down on his driver, which has seen him lose distance (he’s 165th on tour currently at 290.1 yards) but gain accuracy (from 104th in fairway percentage to 15th). Augusta might not be the best fit for him, however, as he plays almost exclusively a cut off the tee and hits perhaps the lowest ball on tour. Missed the cut at last year’s Masters.

19: Cameron Young

Age: 24 World Ranking: 46 Masters appearances: First

Enjoyed an all-time junior/amateur career in the New York area and has wasted little time showing that even the Northeasterners can hang on the big tour. Has two runner-up finishes this season, including at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, and has quickly established himself as one of the game’s better drivers — he ranks second in driving distance and fourth in SG/off the tee. Fears no one and has a big enough game to make birdies in bunches even on major championship layouts. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him impress in his first Masters. Might be the oldest looking/active 24-year-old in the world.

18: Billy Horschel

Age: 35 World Ranking: 13 Masters appearances: 7

Best Masters finish: T-17, 2016

Won the BMW PGA Championship last fall in Europe and has carried over the form into the beginning of 2022. Florida native and UF grad wanted desperately to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational but was clipped by Scottie Scheffler. Still, he’s got four finishes of T-16 or better in his last five starts and seems as comfortable as ever with his game. Finished T-4 in his first major as a pro (2013 US Open) and has failed to post a top-15 in 30 major appearances since, an inexcusably barren major record for a player as established and experienced as he. Perhaps this is the year he challenges.

17: Paul Casey

Age: 44 World Ranking: 25 Masters appearances: 15

Best Masters finish: T-4, 2016

Back spasms caused the Englishman to concede to all three opponents at the WGC-Match Play, and it’s unclear if he’ll be at full strength at Augusta. Caught one of the worst breaks you’ll ever see at the Players, where his perfect drive at the par-5 16th landed in someone else’s pitch mark and forced a layup. He can sometimes feel cursed in the big events, which have alluded him throughout an excellent career. His record at the Masters is impressive, with three straight finishes of T-6 or better from 2015-17, and he’s one major away from borderline Hall of Fame status. His iron play remains the strength, ranking sixth on tour in SG/approach.

16: Rory McIlroy

Age: 32 World Ranking: 9 Masters appearances: 13

Best Masters finish: 4, 2015

It’s Rory, and it’s the Masters, so we’re contractually obligated to tell you that this will now be his eighth crack at completing the career Grand Slam at Augusta National. As he drifts toward his mid-30s, the once pudgy, ebullient youngster has morphed into a grey-haired statesman of the game who seems more at peace with his life than ever before. Won his 20th PGA Tour title at last autumn’s CJ Cup and has looked solid if unspectacular in his three PGA Tour starts this calendar year. Skipped the WGC-Match Play in favor of the Valero Texas Open, opting to play the week before the Masters in a noted shift from previous years, but his game looked loose and he missed the cut with a whimper. The driver has been a consistent weapon recently and he’s been hard at work on his putting with Brad Faxon. The key for him is avoiding those crippling first rounds that have plagued him at the Masters; he finished T-5 in 2020 despite opening with 75 but missed the cut last year after a brutal Thursday 76. It’s almost impossible to think he could finish his career without at least one green jacket. Right? Right?!?!?!

15: Patrick Cantlay

Age: 30 World Ranking: 5 Masters appearances: 5

Best Masters finish: T-9, 2019

Caught fire at the right time last summer, winning the BMW Championship and holding off a hard-charging Jon Rahm at the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup and its $15 million prize. As such, the expectations have ratcheted up, and the cameo he made in the 2019 Masters remains the only time he’s been in contention at a major. In fact, he’s missed the cut in his last start at the Players, Open Championship and the Masters, a barren run that doesn’t make sense given the well-roundedness of his game. Posted six straight finishes of T-9 or better from last fall through the beginning of the year but has now gone three straight starts without a top-20, the product of a patchy stretch with his irons. At 30, he’s practically ancient by modern top-10 OWGR standards. Some major success would cement his spot among the game’s hyper-elite.

14: Shane Lowry

Age: 34 World Ranking: 35 Masters appearances: 6

Best Masters finish: T-21, 2021

The Irishman is having his best run of form since his Open Championship victory in 2019, even if the Golf Gods conspired against him at the Honda Classic, where he had to settle for solo second when a torrential downpour hit just as he played the par-5 18th. Backed that up with two more good finishes in Florida—a T-13 at the Players and T-12 at the Valspar—and his approach play in particular has been stellar. That, combined with his world-class short game should have him riding high in belief heading into the year’s first major, but the Masters is the only one of the big four that he doesn’t have a top-10 finish in. Hmmmm.

13: Jordan Spieth

Age: 28 World Ranking: 18 Masters appearances: 8

Best Masters finish: Win, 2015

Drew plenty of attention heading into last year’s Masters after his win the week prior at the Valero Texas Open, then finished tied for third in Augusta to emphatically end his slump. Solo second at the Open Championship hinted at a big 2022, and it could still happen, but he turned up this year with a visibly different rhythm to his swing and still seems to be hard at work on mechanics. He’s rehearsing a dramatic move on his practice swing and has followed up his solo second at Pebble Beach with a T-60, T-26, missed cut and T-35. Brandel Chamblee called him “roughly half the player he used to be”, which seems a bit harsh, but it’s true that while he’s no longer in the depths, he’s far from the heights of his youth. That’s the reason for caution. The reason for optimism: Simply put, no one has played Augusta better. He has five top-three finishes in his eight Masters starts, and looks wholly comfortable on the grounds. He’ll always fare best on courses that aren’t a contest of driving it long and straight, and Augusta provides a canvas for him to artfully carve his way through 18 holes. Which is just how he likes it.

12: Matt Fitzpatrick

Age: 27 World Ranking: 24 Masters appearances: 7

Best Masters finish: T-7, 2016

If you remove the Players, where he caught the wrong side of a historically lopsided draw, his last five finishes are as follows: T-18 at WGC-Match Play (where he missed a 12-footer to eliminate eventual champion Scottie Scheffler in a sudden-death playoff), a T-5 at the Valspar, T-9 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-10 at the WM Phoenix Open and T-6 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. As such, he leads the tour in SG/overall. But, and it’s a sizable but, he has failed to show up in the big events. It’s not that he misses many cuts — he’s made the weekend in 10 of his last 12 major starts — but for a two-time Ryder Cupper who’s been a top-50 fixture for five years, having one major top-10 to your name is simply not good enough. Putts well on bentgrass greens and can’t have asked for a better run-up.

11: Sam Burns

Age: 25 World Ranking: 11 Masters appearances: First

It’s as though he wants to make Steve Stricker pay for not picking him for last year’s Ryder Cup team. His success this year is a testament to the depth of American golf at the minute — a guy who couldn’t make a team of the top 12 US players now has three wins in his last 11 months and ranks No. 10 in the world. Does have a little bit of that “watch-how-good-I-am” swagger and now has plenty of experience closing out events. Has proven to be one of the best iron players in the world and putts extremely well, especially on Bermuda. This will be his first trip around Augusta National, and its bentgrass greens, and you know the stat by now: no first-time participant has won this tournament since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

10: Will Zalatoris

Age: 25 World Ranking: 29 Masters appearances: 1

Best Masters finish: 2, 2021

Came up one shot short of a playoff in his bid to win the Masters in his first try last April. A ball-striker’s ball-striker, he ranks second on tour in SG/approach and SG/tee to green. His short putting can be downright difficult to watch at times but it hasn’t kept him from racking up top-10s with impressive frequency, and he holed quite a few in making the quarters at the WGC-Match Play. That he’s only the 16th highest-ranked American says quite a bit about the state of U.S. golf.

9: Xander Schauffele

Age: 28 World Ranking: 10 Masters appearances: 4

Best Masters finish: T-2, 2019

Been something of a Koepka-lite in majors — he lacks the victories, but he’s got nine top-10 finishes in 18 career major starts, including two top-threes in his last three Masters. Emerged as the chief challenger to Hideki Matsuyama last year before a water ball on 16 doomed him. Exorcized some of those demons by winning gold in the Tokyo Olympics but still has not won on the PGA Tour in 40(!) months. Form has been nothing to write home about and the stats tell the same 6.5/10 picture — he ranks between 16th and 69th in all key strokes-gained categories. He’s been a top-10 player for years, he has a gold medal, he’s starred in the Ryder Cup. There’s only one box left to check: major champion.

8: Viktor Hovland

Age: 24 World Ranking: 4 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-21, 2021

A generational ball-striking talent who’s on the brink of becoming World No. 1 despite a glaring weakness in his game. After his first PGA Tour victory in 2020, he said bluntly that “my chipping sucks”. He’s worked on it, but not as much as he should’ve. “I frankly don’t practise it enough,” he said after another disappointing short-game display at the Players, where he finished T-9. It has improved, but not as much as it should’ve by now. He has weeks where he hits it so good that he doesn’t need to chip much at all, but Augusta is the last place you want to be if you have any shred of doubt in your ability to catch it clean around the greens. Took low amateur in 2019 and showed solidly at last year’s Masters. It will, as it usually does, come down to his play from 50 yards and in, because he’s got the rest of the game figured out.

7: Collin Morikawa

Age: 25 World Ranking: 3 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-18, 2021

He’s played eight majors in his young career and he’s halfway to the career Grand Slam. Turns out being the best iron player on the planet with a mature-beyond-his-years head on his shoulders is a good recipe for the toughest crucibles in the sport. Looked poised to become World No. 1 after a runner-up finish at the Genesis Invitational but he caught the wrong side of the draw at the Players, chipped and putted awfully at the Valspar and watched Scottie Scheffler leapfrog him after WGC-Match Play. Has looked better with the putter in his hands in recent months as he continues to groove in his new “saw” grip, and this week should serve as the ultimate test of the flatstick. Plays a cut almost exclusively with driver but has made a concerted effort to drill a 3-wood draw with Augusta in mind. Made the cut in both of his Masters starts and looked increasingly comfortable en route to a T-18 last year.

6: Jon Rahm

Age: 27 World Ranking: 2 Masters appearances: 5

Best Masters finish: 4, 2018

For a game that moves so slowly, golf’s narratives change awfully quickly. Just a few months ago Rahm sat on top of the world, playing a ruthlessly consistent brand of golf that left him the clear-cut World No. 1. But for all his top-10s — there have been plenty, including in each of the four majors last year — Rahm has not won since last year’s US Open, and the World Ranking rewards victories sweetly. As such, Rahm is looking up at someone else in the World Ranking for the first time since July. Has been battling a balky putter for months but did look better at the WGC-Match Play, where he advanced from group play before losing to Brooks Koepka. Top-10s in each of his last four Masters starts suggest he’s primed to join Seve, Jose and Sergio as Spaniards that wear green, and his so-so play has lessened the burden of expectation slightly. As good a chance as anyone.

5: Cameron Smith

Age: 28 World Ranking: 6 Masters appearances: 5

Best Masters finish: T-2, 2020

If the pre-Masters portion of 2022 belonged to Scottie Scheffler, then Smith has a strong minority share. Began the year by shooting 34 under — a PGA Tour record for a 72-hole event — to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Backed it up with a breathtaking short-game display and a 10-birdie 66 to win the Players. As unaffected as a top-10 player can be, nothing seems to bother him on the golf course (or off it), and he’s probably the best player in the world from 60 yards and in. Old-school shot-maker who relishes the opportunity to flash the full arsenal at Augusta National, and it’s a pleasure watching him chip off those tight lies. Given his form and his record at Augusta — he has three top-10s in his last four starts and remains the only golfer ever to shoot all four rounds in the 60s in a single Masters — he finds himself in a new position: entering a major championship as one of the favorites.

4: Dustin Johnson

Age: 37 World Ranking: 8 Masters appearances: 11

Best Masters finish: Win, 2020

Dropped outside the top 10 in the world for the first time in six years before his fourth-place finish at the WGC-Match Play jumped him back to No. 8. His dominant victory at the 2020 Masters came amid an all-time heater and seemed to tease a late-30s run of greatness, but it hasn’t materialised. Failed to qualify for the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the first time in more than a decade and missed the cut in his Masters title defence last year, which must have stung. Never one to dwell on the past, he has five top-10s at the Masters to his name and won’t be short on confidence. His driver’s been his chief weapon throughout his career but left him for large swaths of 2021, so it’s encouraging to see him gain shots off the tee in four straight starts.

3: Scottie Scheffler

Age: 25 World Ranking: 1 Masters appearances: 2

Best Masters finish: T-18, 2021

The hottest property in golf. His 2022 results leading into the Masters reads like an early 2000s Tiger Woods: three wins in his last five starts, all against loaded fields. He woke up on Super Bowl Sunday still searching for his first win, and now he’ll enter golf’s biggest tournament as the world’s top-ranked player. Has a game that’s made for majors — he drives it miles and straight and seems to pour all his six- to 10-footers centre-cup. No surprise that he’s been T-19 or better in each of the last six, including four top-eight finishes. Brought Ted Scott on as his caddie late last year, and they’re clearly clicking; Scott, meanwhile, was on the bag for both of Bubba Watson’s Masters victories. Scheffler seems wholly unaffected by his recent success — some because of his down-to-earth Texas roots, some because it’s all happened so damn quickly — which makes him an even scarier proposition. A victory this week would be his fourth of the year and, rankings aside, would put some distance between he and the rest in the best-in-the-world conversation.

2: Brooks Koepka

Age: 31 World Ranking: 17 Masters appearances: 6

Best Masters finish: T-2, 2019

Quietly rounding into form just in time for his favorite time of the year: major season. He called his World Ranking “embarrassing” in Phoenix and while it hasn’t risen much, he’s surely seen enough to feel he’s ready to add a third leg of the career Grand Slam. Took out Jon Rahm to reach the quarters at the WGC-Match Play and tied for 12th in his start before that at the Valspar Championship. Had three straight finishes of T-11 or better at Augusta, including a runner-up to Tiger in 2019, before he missed the cut last year. Don’t read into that too much, however, for it was remarkable he even played just a month off knee surgery. As is his habit, showed extremely well in the final three majors of the year with a T-2 at the PGA, T-4 at the US Open and T-6 at the Open Championship. Flying under the radar given his lack of recent success, but if he’s as healthy as he says he is, few will feel better about their chances.

1: Justin Thomas

Age: 28 World Ranking: 7 Masters appearances: 6

Best Masters finish: 4, 2020

While seventh in the World Ranking, Data Golf’s algorithm pegs JT as the world’s best player right now. Ranks first in the Masters field in SG/overall over his last 24 rounds, and his consistency is indeed underrated by the OWGR. But that consistency has by and large been in regular PGA Tour events, for he’s been something of a disappointment in major championships since his win in the 2017 PGA at Quail Hollow. Did not factor in any of the majors last year but will turn up to this one with Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay on the bag, who won the Masters three times as Phil Mickelson’s caddie. Has top-10s in three of his last four stroke-play starts with the lone exception coming when he was swimming upstream on the wrong side of the draw at the Players. Took a scouting trip last Tuesday with his adopted older brother, Tiger Woods, and his adopted younger brother, Charlie Woods. One of these years his play in the majors will catch up to his play in the non-majors. We’re willing to bet it’s this one.

 

Facebook Comments

Check Also

Dermot Davitt Wins 29th Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup

Dermot Davitt Wins 29th Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup

Advertisement

Advertisement