Due to some of the world’s top-ranked golfers being a part of LIV Golf, the Masters 2023 will mark the first time that all of the best in the world will be in one place.
That place is Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, for the 87th edition of the Masters. With No. 6 Cameron Smith and No. 25 Joaquin Niemann in the field, it marks the first time that the top 25 in the world rankings are in a tournament this year.
Scottie Scheffler won by three strokes over Rory McIlroy last year, and that margin would’ve been even greater if Scheffler didn’t double-bogey the 72nd hole. Smith was tied for third, so another showdown in 2023 isn’t out of the question.
Augusta National was lengthened several times over the past 25 years since Tiger Woods won his first title here; it currently stands at 7,545 yards and is a par 72. Each hole is named and many are among the most famous holes in golf. Holes 11-13 are known as Amen Corner, and the series begins with a 505-yard, par 4 challenge that’s considered one of the hardest holes on the course. Following the par-3 12th, No. 13 “Azalea” has been lengthened by 30 yards to 545 yards. Moving the tee boxes back on the hole is designed to prevent golfers from cutting the corner off the original tee box to reach the green in two.
Last year’s average round was 73.951, which was the highest in six years. Scheffler won at -10, but only nine players were under par for the tournament. Dustin Johnson holds the course record at a 20-under 268, which was set in 2020 under different weather conditions—the tournament was moved to November that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be the sixth time that Nos. 1-3 in the OWGR compete this year, and it’s the third time that they are the top-three favorites on the odds board. Of the previous five times, Scottie Scheffler has won twice, Jon Rahm won once, and Rory McIlroy has a runner-up and a third-place finish.
Won here last year in a dominant fashion. It was similar to how he won a few weeks ago at The Players Championship, and he followed that up with a run to the semifinals of the WGC-Match Play before losing to eventual champ Sam Burns in a playoff.
Beat Scheffler head-to-head in the third-place contest at the Match Play. It was the first time he played with a new putter and new grips on his driver and woods. After nearly doing it all in the world of golf last year, including the FedEx Cup and DP World Tour season-long titles, the Northern Irishman is looking for his first major win in nearly 10 years now. He was oh-so-close last year, finishing runner-up here, and this is the major he needs to complete the career grand slam.
Was the world’s hottest golfer over the winter, winning twice internationally to close 2022 and then following that up with three victories in a five-tournament span in January and February. He’s cooled a bit since, finishing 39th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, withdrawing due to illness at TPC Sawgrass, and failing to reach the knockout stage of Match Play. He comes in with four top-10s at Augusta National and has been under par on Sunday for five-straight years.
A winner here in 2015, didn’t advance past the group stage at Match Play but was third at Innisbrook and fourth at Bay Hill before that. His inconsistency will never go away—as evidenced by leading the Sony Open in Hawaii after the first round in January and then missing the cut the following day—but his upside is hard to ignore.
Is the most likely to win, according to the odds. Cameron Smith had a tremendous 2022, setting a PGA Tour record to par of -34 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, won The Players Championship, claimed victory in the most recent major—the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrew’s—and won the Australian PGA Championship. He did win a LIV Golf event in the fall but has struggled a bit this year in 2023, logging just one top 10 in four events.
The 2020 champion, was also struggling in the events he played in 2023 until logging a top-10 in LIV’s event in Orlando last week. Johnson, who finished 12th here last year for his seventh top-15 result in 12 tries.
It’s been nearly five years since Jason Day last won on the PGA Tour, but he’s had quite the resurgence in 2023. He’s logged five top-10 finishes in seven events this year. In that span, his worst round has been two 73s. The Australian is coming off a run to the quarterfinals at Match Play and owns three top-5 finishes at the Masters.
If you’re looking for a first-time major winner to pick, Xander Schauffele (+2500) isn’t a bad candidate. He owns a pair of top-three finishes at Augusta National and has been on a run of 7-for-7 in cuts since January with three top-10s to his credit.
Is getting attention due to his victory in the Valero Texas Open last week, but he’s got course form as well. His worst finish in the last three Masters is 10th.
Finally, it’s not a Masters preview without mentioning Tiger Woods. The five-time green jacket winner shot -1 in last year’s first round, but in his first tournament back from a severe leg injury due to a car crash in Feb. 2021, Woods shot a 78 on both Saturday and Sunday. He made it through four rounds at the Genesis Invitational, so while he may not contend, expect a better 72-hole performance this year.
We are backing Scheffler and McIlroy of those at +1800 or better. From the +2500 group, we like Johnson and Day. Conners and Max Homa (+3000) are our longshot bids.
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