Masters 2024: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Scottie Scheffler and the Augusta hype

Home » Masters 2024: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Scottie Scheffler and the Augusta hype

Hype. The defining word of Masters week.

Hype surrounds Scottie Scheffler, the 2022 champion who is the hottest favourite to win the Green Jacket since Tiger Woods in 2013.

Hype surrounds Rory McIlroy as he continues his decade-long quest to finally complete the Grand Slam.

Hype surrounds Jon Rahm, the defending champion who has since switched allegiances from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf.

They are the top three in the world rankings. But the hype spreads through the 89-man field assembled at Augusta National for the first major of the year.

Five-time winner Woods may well “ache every day” but the 48-year-old is still the biggest draw for the fans and claims he is still capable of matching Jack Nicklaus’ record of six triumphs.

At the other end of the scale, rising Swedish star Ludvig Aberg was “trying to soak it all in” with the hype around him all about becoming the first debutant to win in 45 years.

He conceded he didn’t know about Fuzzy Zoeller’s rookie triumph in 1979 but the Masters is the one he dreamed of winning as a child.

“My favourite part is when you hit your second shot off 11 and you’re walking down the hill, watching over 12 and picturing all the iconic shots that have been hit,” he said of his experience so far.

The 24-year-old only turned professional last year and within five months had won on the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and helped Europe beat the United States in the Ryder Cup.

LIV players have Masters form

And then there are the ‘Baker’s dozen’ from LIV Golf. Love them or loathe them, you can’t ignore them.

Three of the six champions before Rahm now play LIV Golf – Dustin Johnson (2020), Patrick Reed (2018) and Sergio Garcia (2017) – while three-time champion Phil Mickelson, two-time winner Bubba Watson and 2011 victor Charl Schwartzel also now play on the new tour.

Mickelson, at the age of 52, proved he still has the game to conquer Augusta, shooting a seven-under-par 65 in the final round last year to finish joint second with fellow LIV golfer Brooks Koepka.

Perhaps of more intrigue is how Chile’s Joaquin Niemann will fare.

The 25-year-old won the Australian Open in December and has claimed two LIV events this year, but dropped to 91st in the world because ranking points are not awarded to the fledgling circuit’s 54-hole, 54-man tournaments.

He is not happy with the ranking situation and had to rely on an invite from the Masters to get in the field. We will find out if he can justify the hype as one of the favourites.

Scheffler the man to beat?

Woods won three events and returned to world number one before arriving at Augusta 11 years ago as the red-hot favourite.

This year Scheffler, who has topped the standings for the past 47 weeks, has also enjoyed a stellar run-in, winning twice and finishing runner-up in his past three events.

But that is where the 27-year-old will want the similarities to end.

Woods, by then a four-time Masters champion, finished joint fourth in 2013 and narrowly avoided being disqualified after unwittingly admitting in a post-round interview to taking an illegal drop during the second round.

Scheffler tops most of the PGA Tour’s key metrics from tee to green, while his putting stats – which had been under scrutiny – are on the rise after his recent work with putting guru Phil Kenyon.

He went straight to the champions’ locker room to slip into his Green Jacket when he arrived at Augusta for the 88th staging of the only major to be held at the same venue each year.

Into the famed white clubhouse, up 13 stairs and a turn to the left. It is a route only winners walk. Scheffler shares a locker with 1971 winner Charles Coody and 1937 champion Byron Nelson – fellow Texans.

“It’s usually the first thing we do here on Sunday when I get in,” said Scheffler, who has finished in the top 20 on his three other appearances. “It’s fun walking around the grounds and being able to put it on. It’s a special feeling.”

It is a special feeling that McIlroy is desperate to experience. This will be the 16th year that the Northern Irishman will tee it up among the azaleas and magnolias.

Even the most casual of golf fans will surely know that for the past decade he has arrived in Georgia looking to complete the career Grand Slam, having won two US PGA Championships as well as The Open and the US Open between 2011 and 2014.

It is 13 years since his best chance of winning the Masters went “pear-shaped” on the 10th as he so succinctly put it at the time. A triple-bogey seven at the par four that opens the back nine came in a ruinous round of 80 as he let slip a four-shot lead on Sunday.

Two years ago he recorded his best finish – but that was a distant second to Scheffler, three shots back despite closing with an eight-under 64. Either side of that are two missed cuts.

‘McIlroy will be a Masters champion one day’

In an effort “to bring a little bit of normalcy” into a suffocating week of expectation, McIlroy followed his usual PGA Tour routine of turning up on Tuesday.

“I feel like I’ve already got most of my prep work done,” he said, referring to the fact he played two practice rounds in the peace of the previous week.

“So it’s just about going out there and being relaxed and being in the right frame of mind.”

But just when the 34-year-old thought he might be slipping down Magnolia Lane even just slightly under the radar, up piped Woods to remind everyone that “Rory is too talented” and “will be a great Masters champion one day”.

While McIlroy probably won’t want to contemplate another decade of failure, Sir Nick Faldo, England’s three-time Masters champion, reckons he “has got at least another 10 years of being supersonically fit” enough to chase the title, despite all the “scar tissue” of recent attempts.

Scheffler and McIlroy have been grouped together, along with American Xander Schauffele, for the opening two rounds.

Rahm is going out in the group ahead at 15:30 BST in Thursday’s opening round, which will get under way at 13:00. He is looking to become only the fourth player after Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Faldo (1989-90) and Woods (2001-02), to win successive titles.

“It is the biggest tournament in the world,” he said, adding yet more hype.

“It’s probably the most followed one by people that don’t even play golf.”

Recent Comments

No comments to show.

Gambling News

100% match bonus based on first deposit of £/$/€20+. Additional bonuses.

T&Cs Apply

New players only. Welcome Bonus - 100% bonus on your first deposit up to €/$/£200 Unless otherwise stated. This bonus only applies for deposits of €/$/£10 or higher! All you need to do is just deposit the money in your account and you will receive this bonus instantly!

*New users only is an independent source of information about online casinos and online casino games, not controlled by any gambling operator. All our reviews and guides are created honestly, according to the best knowledge and judgement of the members of our independent expert team; however, they are intended for informative purposes only and should not be construed as, nor relied upon as, legal advice. You should always make sure that you meet all regulatory requirements before playing in any selected casino. Copyright ©2023