Azaleas are in full bloom, the grass is greener than envy and the best players in the world have made their way to Augusta, Georgia. It all means one thing: It’s almost time for the Masters.
The 2023 edition is less than 48 hours away, and the field is in full-preparation mode. Defending champion and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler enters the week as the co-betting favorite at 7/1 with Rory McIlroy. With a win, McIlroy would become the sixth player to earn the career grand slam.
Nipping at their heels is No. 3 Jon Rahm at 9/1. The Spaniard comes into the week a bit under the radar due to his withdrawal from the Players Championship and subpar performance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Masters: Cameron DaSilva’s picks
Tiger Woods, who already has a PGA Tour start under his belt this season (T-45, Genesis Invitational), returns to ANGC looking for his sixth green jacket. He spent Monday playing alongside Fred Couples, Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim.
Masters 2023 leaderboard: Get the latest news from Augusta
Augusta National Golf Club | Par 72 | 7,545 yards
Augusta National Golf Club – Course History for #TheMasters
Includes average finish position and Strokes Gained Total per round since 2015.
Also includes measured strokes gained and other data from the 2021-2022 Masters. pic.twitter.com/AnUb7garB9
— Ron Klos (@PGASplits101) April 3, 2023
- According to Ron Klos, a statistician, the last 11 winners of the Masters had gained at least 18 total strokes tee-to-green in the four events prior to their win at ANGC. There are fourteen players in the field this week who check that box: Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Max Homa, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Gary Woodland and Justin Thomas.
|Scottie Scheffler||(+700)||Cam Smith||(+2200)|
|Rory McIlroy||(+700)||Collin Morikawa||(+2500)|
|Jon Rahm||(+900)||Max Homa||(+2800)|
|Patrick Cantlay||(+1600)||Cameron Young||(+2800)|
|Jordan Spieth||(+1600)||Will Zalatoris||(+3500)|
|Tony Finau||(+2000)||Viktor Hovland||(+3500)|
|Justin Thomas||(+2000)||Sungjae Im||(+3500)|
|Xander Schauffele||(+2200)||Sam Burns||(+3500)|
|Jason Day||(+2200)||Hideki Matsuyama||(+4000)|
|Dustin Johnson||(+2200)||Brooks Koepka||(+4000)|
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Homa is a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, but he’s missing that big win. A victory that demands respect merely by its name and presence on his resume. The Masters would check that box.
The King of California hasn’t had great success at major championships throughout his career, let alone the Masters. After missing the weekend in his first two appearances at ANGC in ’20 and ’21, Homa tied for 48th last season.
The 32-year-old has made it out of group play at the WGC-Dell Match Play, tied for sixth at the Players, for 14th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, was the runner-up to Rahm at the Genesis Invitational and finished T-39 at the WM Phoenix Open since his win at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.
Odds to win: 28/1
Young is already reaping the benefits of newly-acquired veteran caddie Paul Tesori. After splitting with Webb Simpson, Tesori picked up Young’s bag at the WGC-Dell Match Play and the new pair got off to a near-perfect start. Young took down McIlroy in the semifinals before falling to Sam Burns in the championship match. Tesori’s extensive knowledge of Augusta National will no doubt be yet another weapon in Young’s existing arsenal.
With rain projected to hit the Augusta area most of the week, soggy conditions may benefit Young’s game perfectly. He’s a high-ball hitter with carry distance to spare off the tee. With little roll out in the fairways, Young will most likely have shorter clubs into greens than most of the field.
Young missed the cut at the Masters last year, his debut appearance.
Odds to win: 28/1
Is this the year? It’s tough to know for sure, but if the McIlroy we saw at Austin Country Club drives down Magnolia Lane on Thursday morning, the rest of the field is in trouble.
His confidence with the new Scotty Cameron he put in the bag after missing the weekend at TPC Sawgrass seemed to grow exponentially throughout the week in the Lone Star state. The shorter shaft in his driver, another change he made after the Players, allowed the club to drop more in front of him on the way down producing some of the best drives we’ve seen from the Northern Irishman in years.
His bogey-free 64 to close out last year’s Masters may have been a turning point, a reminder that it’s just a game. A reminder to have fun.
The stars could be aligning for McIlroy to join the prestigious group of players who have claimed the career grand slam, but he still has to go out there and do it.
Odds to win: 7/1