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6 Players to Watch at The Masters

By: | Mon 04 Apr 2022 | Comments

The time is upon us where Augusta’s grand gates will be opening and the greatest golfers in the world will reconvene in arguably the greatest destination on the globe - welcome to Masters week.

There has been a lot of excitement revolving around this year’s edition and for good reason too, with a plethora of storylines awaiting to be revealed.

We previously looked at the possibility of a rookie winning this year - which would only be the third time in history - and picked our favourites out of the batch of fresh meat.

From a field like The Masters, and with so many quality players flourishing in the sport of golf, it can be quite difficult to determine just five players you should keep an eye on.

However, we have managed to file the list down to just six and we’ll provide info into their chances and season so far.

Hideki Matsuyama

Japan’s first men's major winner could not have been earned by a more deserving person, and Hideki Matsuyama will remember his Augusta glory for the remainder of his life. Of course, it would be naïve to think he’s content with just one, as the 30-year-old will certainly be in contention for many years to come. They often say achieving the first one is the hardest and he will have plenty of experience to lean on if he finds himself leading again.

In true Matsuyama fashion, he hasn’t missed a single cut all season on the PGA Tour and after bolstering his CV with two further victories, why can’t he become the first successful defending champion since Tiger Woods in 2002? He heads into Augusta with four top 10s already this season, but has battled niggling injuries in recent weeks.

Scottie Scheffler

If we could go back just six weeks ago, it’s rather ironic that there’s a strong possibility Scottie Scheffler does not make it onto this list. That’s the beautiful thing about sport: it’s constantly changing and shifting. Amongst the ups and downs, Scheffler has managed to squeeze his way to world number one - something none of us saw coming. Now, in the midst of the greatest sporting spell of his life, Scheffler looks to add one notable absentee from his CV: a major championship.

Whilst he might not be the longest off the tee, a wizard with his irons or even the greatest putter on tour, he possesses adequate skill in every department that makes him a true jack-of-all-trades. And, as we know, Augusta excruciatingly tests and judges every component of a golfer. Does Scheffler have a shot at the green jacket? Of course. Did you expect him to win the Phoenix Open and then grind throughout the final day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational? This was a long time coming; now the real Scottie Scheffler has joined the party.

Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland has been one of the busier members on the PGA Tour this season, having featured in 10 events to date. Of course, when you are 24 years old and golf is the only responsibility in your life, it must be an absolute delight to travel from tournament to tournament. Considering the Norwegian recorded his first victory in 2020, it’s been an exhilarating two years for one of the hottest prospects associated with the sport.

The Dubai Desert Classic is definitely his strongest win in his career so far, but there has been plenty of opportunity for further victories. He’ll look at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with resentment, knowing his game let him down during the wrong moments. That is also the difference between Scheffler’s world number one ranking, he managed to triumph whilst Hovland could not find the rhythm he demonstrated previously. Another member on this list without a major, will we say the same come July?

Sam Burns

We completely understand why Sam Burns didn’t commit to the WGC-Match Play, but it would have been great to see him potentially flourish in another format. Fresh off his successful defence of the Valspar, the American opted for further rest before he departs for Augusta for the very first time in his career. After the performances he has produced over the last 12 months, we’re not just confident this will be the first of many trips, we’re downright adamant.

Burns is performing in all of the right areas. He’s long off the tee (308.1 yards, 24th) and he’s extremely accurate with his irons and wedges (GiR: 71.64%, 14th). He has a great scoring average of 70.079 (14th) and he’s 36th in Strokes Gained: Putting. Whilst we can’t put too much hope on a Masters rookie, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll master the course after one visit, Burns isn’t your average rookie, and for that reason, he should attract particular interest.

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka looked especially good during the WGC-Match Play, and he was only beaten by a strong Dustin Johnson that, before the final day, looked certain to win the title. Koepka looked out of sorts during the Phoenix Open, yet his scintillating display with the putter managed to secure him a top three finish. That summarises the kind of player he is: a relentless grinder.

Two U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships make up his entire major honours - wouldn’t he love to just be one away from the grand slam? We know that Koepka was made for major championships - he even previously disclosed that he makes extra effort for them - so you’d have to be naïve to think another isn’t too close. Although he is yet to win at Augusta, T11th, T2nd and T7th finishes provide all the needed experience to finally push on and secure his own green jacket.

And we have to mention this man...

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

There isn’t a singular word that can describe the impact of Tiger Woods’ return to professional golf so swiftly after his horrendous car accident. When we were all glued to our screens watching Woods and his son play in the PNC Championship, we could only dream of seeing him return to the fold so rapidly. We’d be shocked if there aren't any golf fans who have been moved by this news and, considering he’s likely committed to play this week, we all know he’s there to win.

Woods remains three majors behind Jack Nicklaus and at his age and condition, it might seem unlikely he’ll be able to dethrone The Golden Bear. Should we even be speaking about what a victory could do for his chances? After all, we should just be grateful that he’s probably featuring - which didn’t seem likely last week, let alone last year. One thing we do know is that Woods won’t rest until he has 19 majors, and you’d be unwise to rule him out of this one.

There you have six players to keep an eye out for at this year’s Masters, do you agree with our picks or do you fancy someone else to steal the spotlight? 

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

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