This week marks the first of the four majors on the PGA Tour, as it visits Augusta National Golf Club for the 2023 Masters Tournament. Designed in 1933 by Bobby Jones and iconic golf course architect Alister MacKenzie, the course will play as a Par 72, 7,545 yard layout for this year’s tournament and test the best players from both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, as well as the best from LIV Golf. Last year’s edition was won by Scottie Scheffler, who held off a hard charge from Rory McIlroy on the final day to win his first career major by 3 strokes.
Player to Fade:
Making his 42nd and final career start in the Masters this year, Sandy Lyle earned his lifetime exemption in this tournament by winning it back in 1988. Despite being a former winner Masters winner, Lyle has had minimal success in 34 starts since that victory, finishing in the top 25 just two other times and missing the cut here in each of his last 8 starts and in 11 of his last 13 starts. Lyle has been nothing more than a ceremonial player at Augusta for quite awhile now and we predict that he will wrap up his illustrious playing career on Friday with one final missed cut.
Winner of the Masters Tournament in 2020, Dustin Johnson is making first start at Augusta since joining LIV Golf last summer. Despite having not playing on the PGA Tour since last summer’s Open Championship, Johnson is still holding his own, with 1 win, 6 top 5’s, and 8 top 10’s in 11 stroke play starts in LIV Golf, as well as ranking a very nice 69th in the Official World Golf Ranking entering this week. Augusta has played into Johnson’s wheelhouse of late, with 1 win, 5 top 10’s, and 7 top 15’s in his last 9 Masters starts. A win isn’t necessarily out of the equation, but we predict that another top 15 is in the cards for Johnson this week.
Even though he has made just two trips down Magnolia Lane in his young career, Zalatoris has made the most of both of his Augusta starts, finishing 2nd here in his rookie debut in 2021 and followed it up with a T-6 finish in 2022. Zalatoris hasn’t been lighting up leaderboards this season, but his lone top 10 finish across 7 starts is a 4th place finish at The Genesis Invitational, which is at another notorious beast of a golf course known as The Riviera Country Club. The success of Will Zalatoris hinges on his ball striking, as he is currently hitting 69.19% of his Greens in Regulation and ranks inside the top 40 in both Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Off-the-Tee. Zalatoris has also finished inside the top 10 6 times in 10 major starts, so he knows how to contend on the biggest stages. Zalatoris will definitely be a threat for the win this week, but a top 10 finish is a lock.
The defending champion of the Masters Tournament, Scottie Scheffler is currently the number one ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking and he has been playing like it to all season long, with 2 wins, 7 top 10’s, 9 top 25’s, and 0 missed cuts in 10 starts. Scheffler won this tournament last year, but has also finished inside the top 20 in all 3 of his trips to Augusta, so he clearly knows how to get around this course successfully. There are very few holes in Scheffler’s game right now, as he is currently ranked 1st in Greens in Regulation Percentage, hitting 73.77% of his greens so far this season, and is ranked 1st in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Off-the-Tee, 2nd in Strokes Gained: Total, and 6th in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green. The last player to win the Masters Tournament in consecutive years was Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002, but that will change this year, as we predict that Scottie Scheffler will successfully defend his title and slip on the Green Jacket for the second consecutive year at the Masters.