2024 Masters: Unraveling Notable Storylines

2024 Masters: Unraveling Notable Storylines

The 2024 Masters begins Thursday and there's no shortage of notable storylines heading into this tournament. Here's a rundown of some of the top narratives to watch for at Augusta National Golf Club as 89 of the world's best golfers compete for the green jacket from April 11-14.

Rahm's Title Defense and LIV Golf

Jon Rahm captured his second career major title at the Masters last year and the 29-year-old Spaniard will now have a chance to become the first back-to-back Masters champion since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002. Rahm comes into this tournament as the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Rankings and he capped the 2023 slate of PGA Tour majors by tying for second place at the Open Championship, so Rahm has a realistic chance of pulling off the Masters repeat. 

Rahm is part of a significant LIV Golf contingent at the 2024 Masters, which also includes the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed. When LIV Golf was first getting going in 2022, tensions were high between PGA Tour loyalists such as Rory McIlroy and the players who defected to the Saudi-backed alternative, but the leagues have learned to coexist, with major tournaments such as the Masters offering an opportunity for the world's best golfers from both leagues to face off head-to-head in amicable (and lucrative) competition.

Tiger Woods Watch

Nobody draws attention to golf quite like Tiger, and even though he appears to be far removed from his major-winning form at age 48, the 15-time major champion's presence alone would add a special buzz at Augusta. The door is always open for all former Masters champions if they choose to compete, so Woods qualifying for the tournament isn't an issue. Woods was on the list of participants when the initial field was released, was listed on the pre-tournament interview schedule Friday and was spotted practicing at Augusta on Sunday. In other words, all signs point to Tiger being in the field when the tournament tees off Thursday. Woods already produced one Masters miracle with a remarkable effort to claim his fifth green jacket in 2019, but subsequent back injuries have further depleted his game. A more realistic goal for Tiger would be to make the cut, and he would set a new Masters record with 24 made cuts if he's able to do so.

What Will Scheff Cook Up?

Scottie Scheffler is the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Rankings, but while he's been the consensus best player in the world for a couple of years now, Scheffler remains stuck on one major win. Since winning the green jacket at the 2022 Masters, Scheffler has notched three additional top-three major finishes, and he has eight top-10 placements over the last 11 majors. He'll almost certainly be in contention here, but the question is, can Scheffler get over the hump in a major again and double his title count? The 27-year-old American has eight PGA Tour wins since the start of 2022, including two this year, so Scheffler generally doesn't have a problem closing out victories when he's in the mix down the stretch. He also has the opportunity to become only the second golfer ever to win both the Players Championship and Masters in the same year, a feat Tiger accomplished in 2001.

McIlroy Goes For the Career Grand Slam … Again

Only five golfers have won all four majors in their careers: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Woods. Rory McIlroy will once again have the opportunity to become the sixth member of that exclusive club, and perhaps the 10th time will be the charm. The 34-year-old from Northern Ireland has had an opportunity to complete the Grand Slam here every year since 2015, as he captured the Open Championship in 2014 to go with his 2011 US Open and 2012 and 2014 PGA Championships. McIlroy's recent results at Augusta have been a mixed bag, as he came tantalizingly close to the career Grand Slam with a second-place finish at the Masters in 2022 but sandwiched that strong showing between missed cuts in 2021 and 2023. All in all, McIlroy has played the Masters on 15 previous occasions, notching four top-five finishes among his seven top-10s. Much like Scheffler, there's no question McIlroy has what it takes to finish near the top of the leaderboard, but it's pretty much first place or bust at this point. It came down to those two golfers in 2022, with Scheffler coming out on top by three strokes despite McIlroy going 8-under-par in the final round.

Can a Newcomer Produce that Fuzzy Feeling?

The first two Masters in 1934 and 1935 were won by golfers participating in the tournament for the first time. Since then, only one Masters debutant has won the tournament -- Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. This year's 88th edition of the Masters -- which has been played annually since 1934 with the exception of 1943-45 due to World War II -- has an exceptionally strong contingent of newcomers. Of the 89 golfers in the field, 20 have a shot to join Zoeller in the record books as Masters winners on their first go-around. 

Green Jacket Dreams: First-Timers at The 2024 Masters

That group of 16 pros and four amateurs includes 2023 US Open champion Wyndham Clark (No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking), reigning European Masters champion Ludvig Aberg (No. 9 in the OWGR) and 25th-ranked Matthieu Pavon, who became the first Frenchman to win a PGA Tour event in the modern era when he captured the Farmers Insurance Open title in January. The world's top-ranked amateur, Christo Lamprecht, will also be participating. The 23-year-old South African is unlikely to finish near the top of the leaderboard, but he will be hard to miss nonetheless, as Lamprecht towers over the competition at 6-foot-8.

Want more information about the 2024 Masters? Head to RotoWire.com/golf!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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