One month from Masters Week: Everything you need to get ready
Golf fans won’t see Tiger Woods on The Players, a PGA Tour landmark, but they won’t have to wait long to see him on the course again.
Woods is expected to return for the Masters, the season’s first major championship. It’s about a month before the start of the tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club.
Woods, a 15-time world champion, won’t be the only former greenjacket winner to return to Augusta. Also expected is the return of Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner. Last year, he missed the tournament for the first time since 1994. Mickelson, who now competes in the LIV golf league, skipped the Masters as he was embroiled in controversy over his comments on the PGA Tour and the human history of the Saudi Arabian monarchy. rights violations.
Mickelson’s return will be one of the main storylines of Masters Week, along with Rory McIlroy’s pursuit of a career Grand Slam and Scotty Sheffler’s defense attempt. Here’s what else to look for next month:
The tiger is back
All signs point to Woods returning to Augusta, where he returned to competitive golf last year after suffering serious injuries in a car crash in February 2021. in the first round and made it through, which Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Brooks Kepka and Bryson DeChambeau did not.
Woods’ surgically repaired right leg and fused back couldn’t handle the cold weather over the weekend last year. The five-time Masters champion has gone 6-for-78 in a row in his last two rounds, his worst rounds in the Augusta National. He finished 47th with 13 more.
Woods, 47, competed in two more major championships last year; he withdrew after 54 holes at the PGA Championship and missed the cut at the 150th Open at St. Andrews. He looked better in his first start at the Genesis this year, finishing 45th in the 1 under ranking. He said his right foot was in better shape, but admitted that his ankle and plantar fasciitis in his right foot were still bothering him.
Rory McIlroy: McIlroy’s quest to become the sixth golfer to complete a career Grand Slam during the Masters era will be one of the main storylines of the week. He seemed to have exorcised his Augusta National demons, placing 64th in the final round and finishing second last year.
Scotty Sheffler: The reigning Masters champion is looking to become only the fourth player to win in the past few years. Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02) are others.
John Ram: Few players over the past few months have been better than Ram, who has won five times in his last 10 world starts. He finished in the top 10 at the Augusta National four times in a row before finishing 27th last year.
Colleen Morikawa: The two-time major championship winner continues to get better and better at the Augusta National, finishing 18th in 2021 and finishing fifth alone last year.
Will Zalatoris: Zalatoris, the hitting machine, doesn’t seem to show much rust after being fired due to a back injury. He was second solo in his first Masters start in 2021 and tied for sixth last year.
Justin Thomas: Thomas took his second PGA Championship win last year, and it looks like he’s also sorted out Augusta National, finishing twice in the top 10 in his last three starts, including an eighth-place finish in 2022.
Max Homa: For the past two years, Homa has played as one of the best players in the world, winning five times since February 2021. Now it’s time for him to perform better in major tournaments. Last year he finished 48th at the Augusta National, his best result in three starts. He puts out the light, it will help.
Cameron Smith: The reigning Open Championship winner finished second at the Masters in 2020 and finished third last year. The Aussie could be LIV Golf’s best chance of ruining the week. Does he play enough competitive golf to do that?
Dustin Johnson: The 2020 Masters champion dominated the LIV Golf circuit in his first season, taking home over $35 million in purses and bonuses. He finished 12th in the Augusta National last year.
Xander Schauffele: Is Schauffele getting his first big championship win this year? He missed cuts at the Augusta National last year but finished second in 2019 and third in 2021.
Patrick Cantley: One of the best players in the world without a major championship win, Cantley topped the Augusta National with a ninth-place finish in 2019. He finished 39th last year.
Tony Finau: Finau has won three times since July and has a pretty good track record in the first major of the season despite finishing 35th last year. He has three top 10s, including fifth place in 2019.
LIV the guys will be there
On December 20, the Masters became the first major championship to announce that it would not ban LIV Golf League players from returning to the Augusta National and would keep the same qualifying criteria for this year’s tournament.
Barring injuries or other reasons, the Masters will feature 18 players from the LIV Golf League: Abraham Unser, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Kopka, Jason Cokrak, Mickelson, Kevin Nah, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Osthuizen, Mito Pereira, Thomas Peters, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwarzel, Cam Smith, Harold Varner III and Bubba Watson.
While Augusta National hasn’t made it harder for LIV Golf players to qualify for the tournament, at least this year Masters chairman Fred Ridley has made it clear he’s not happy with the current division in men’s golf.
“Unfortunately, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf, diminishing the dignity of the game and the significant legacy of those who created it,” Ridley said in a statement. “While we are disappointed by these developments, we are focused on honoring the tradition of bringing together outstanding golfers this April.”
Garcia, Johnson, Mickelson, Reed, Schwarzel and Watson have won green jackets and will be invited to the Champions Dinner.
As the defending champion, Scheffler will choose a menu that he says is not yet complete.
“We have a few ideas,” Scheffler said. “I am delighted with this. Hope the guys enjoy it too. I’m a little weird about my food. I really don’t branch out too much. Let’s see what they think.”
on the bubble
Harris English (Current OWGR Ranking: 39): English, a member of Team USA that won the 2021 Ryder Cup, was in danger of missing out on the Masters after missing much of 2022 with a hip injury. However, after finishing second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has moved up 40 spots in the world rankings and looks safe.
Jason Day (Current OWGR Ranking: 43): After missing the Masters for the first time since 2010 for the first time since 2010 last year, Day is currently on the right side of the number. He is healthy and has made some changes to the course and the results have been good with three straight top 10s at the Farmers Insurance Open, WM Phoenix Open and The Genesis.
Keith Mitchell (Current OWGR Rank: 47): Another former Georgia star, Mitchell plays some of the best golf of his career. He placed fourth in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and was fifth in The Genesis. He has played in the Masters only once, finishing 43rd in 2019.
Min Woo Lee (Current OWGR Ranking: 50): The Australian finished 14th in his first Masters start in 2022. His older sister Minji is the reigning US Women’s Open champion.
Lucas Herbert (Current OWGR Ranking: 51): Encouraged by consecutive third-place finishes in the Hero Dubai Classic and PIF Saudi International, the Aussie is right on the bubble and should be playing well.
Taylor Montgomery (Current OWGR Ranking: 56): After a brilliant start to his PGA Tour career, the former UNLV star cooled off with back-to-back misses at the WM Phoenix Open and The Genesis.
Victor Perez (Current OWGR Ranking: 60): France’s Perez started the year outside the top 100 in the world. But then he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and played well in the other two DP World Tour events to get back into the mix.
Chris Kirk: The former University of Georgia star competes in the Masters for the first time since missing out in 2016. He took his first PGA Tour win in nearly eight years at the Honda Classic last month.
Keegan Bradley: Bradley, who finished seventh at the US Open in Brooklyn, will start the Masters for the second time in seven years and the first time since 2019. His best finish at the Augusta National was 22nd in 2015.
Scott Stallings: It may have taken extra time for Stallings to get the call, but he will cherish it after waiting nine years to play in the Masters again. He finished 27th in 2012 and missed the cut in 2014.
Alex Noren: Noren from Sweden will make his first start at the Masters since finishing 62nd in 2019. He missed two more starts at the Augusta National.
Aaron Wise: Wise finished 17th in his first Masters start in 2019 and then missed the field each of the next three years. In the final round, he scored 5-67, tying Jason Day for the lowest round that day.
Names to know
Adrian Meronk: Meronk, 29, became the first Polish player to qualify for a PGA Tour tournament at The Genesis in February. The two-time DP World Tour winner qualified for the Masters with a top 50 spot in the world last year.
Gordon Sargent: The Vanderbilt sophomore is the reigning NCAA Division I men’s champion and the first freshman since 2007 to win the title. His average in the first six tournaments this season is 67.3.
Sam Bennet: As a fifth year student at Texas A&M, Bennett won the 2022 U.S. Amateur Championship. He grew up playing a nine-hole course in Texas that “looks like a cow pasture.”
Ben Carr: The senior from South Georgia placed second at the 2022 U.S. Amateur. Carr is still an amateur but got a PGA Tour Canada card last month.
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