Golf fans will not be able see the course. Tiger WoodsThe Players is the PGA Tours signature event. But they wont have long to wait to see him back on course.
Woods is expected back at the Masters, the first major championship in the season. About a month is left before the tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.
Woods, a fifteen-time major champion, won’t be the only ex-green jacket winner making his return to Augusta. Phil MickelsonThree-time Masters winner, he is expected to return. Last year, Mickelson missed the tournament for only the second time since 1994. Mickelson, now playing in the LIV Golf League (Majors), skipped the Masters last year. Embroiled in controversyFrom his comments regarding the PGA Tours history of human right violations and the Saudi Arabian royal familys.
Mickelsons Return will be one the most significant stories of Masters Week, along with Rory McIlroyThe pursuit of a career grand Slam Scottie Schefflers attempted defense. Here are some other things to watch for in the next month.
Tiger is back
All indications point to WoodsWoods was able to return to Augusta, where he made his competitive golf return last year after suffering serious injuries from a car accident in February 2021. Woods made the cut after carding a 1-under 71 in his first round. This is Woods first appearance in 509 days. Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka Bryson deChambeau didnt do.
Woods left leg and fused right leg, which had been surgically repaired, didn’t hold up in the cold weather last weekend. In the final round, Woods posted back-toback 6-over 78s, his worst round at Augusta National. He was 47th at 13 over.
Woods, 47, participated in two more major championships last season. He withdrew after 54 holes of the PGA Championship, and missed the cut at St. Andrews 150th Open Championship. He was 45th at the Genesis this year and looked much better. Although he stated that his right leg was in better form, he admitted that his right foot and ankle were still a problem.
Rory McIlroy: McIlroys quest for the sixth career grand slam in Masters era golf will be one of the most exciting stories of the week. McIlroy seemed to be able to overcome his Augusta National demons by finishing second in the final round of 64 last year.
Jon Rahm: Rahm has won five times in the past ten international starts. Before tying for 27th at Augusta National last year, Rahm had four straight top-10 finishes.
Collin Morikawa: Augusta Nationals two-time major champion winner keeps getting better and better. He tied for 18th in 2021, and finished solo fifth last year.
Will Zalatoris:Zalatoris is a ball-striking machine and doesnt seem to have much rust after his layoff due to a back injury. He finished second in his Masters debut in 2021, and was tied for sixth last season.
Justin Thomas: Thomas won his second PGA Championship title last year. He also seems to have figured Augusta National well with two top-10 finishes in each of his previous three starts, including a tie-for-eight in 2022.
Max Homa: Homa has been one of the top players in the world the past two seasons, winning five times since Feb 2021. Now its time to do better in the majors. He finished 48th at Augusta National last season, his best finish in three years. He is putting lights out, which will be a help.
Cameron Smith: The Open Championship winner in 2018 was a Masters runnerup in 2020, and tied for third last season. LIV Golf may have its best chance to spoil the week by the Australian. Is he good enough at competitive golf to do it all?
Dustin Johnson: The 2020 Masters champion won more than $35 million in prizes and bonuses in the inaugural season of LIV Golf Circuit. He finished 12th at Augusta National in last years race.
Xander Schauffele:Could this be Schauffeles first major championship win? He missed the cut at Augusta National but finished second in 2019 and third in 2021.
Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay, one of the top players in the world but without a major championship win, tied for ninth at Augusta National in 2019. He tied for 39th place last year.
Tony Finau: Finau has won three times in July and has a good record at the first majors of the season. Last year, he tied for 35th. He has three top-10s, including a tie to fifth in 2019.
LIV guys will also be there
Dec. 20 was the Masters first major championship announcement that it would not ban LIV Golf League players returning to Augusta National. The Masters also announced that the tournament would maintain the same qualifying criteria.
The Masters will feature 18 players from LIV Golf League, unless there are injuries or other reasons. Abraham Ancer, Bryson Debbeau Sergio Garcia, Talor GoochBrooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson Jason Kokrak, Mickelson, Kevin Na, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, Mito Pereira, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed, Charl SchwartzelCam Smith Harold Varner III Bubba Watson.
Augusta National didn’t make it harder for LIV golf players to qualify for this tournament, but Masters chairman Fred Ridley made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the current men’s division.
Ridley released a statement saying that recent actions had caused division in mens professional golf. They have diminished the virtues and legacies associated with the game. We are disappointed by these developments but our focus is on honoring the tradition of bringing together an elite field of golfers this April.
Garcia, Johnson and Mickelson have won green jackets. They will be invited to the champions dinner.
Scheffler, as the defending champ of the tournament, will choose the menu. Scheffler says he hasn’t yet decided.
Scheffler stated, We have some ideas. Im excited about this. I hope the guys like it. Im a bit strange about my food. I dont really like to branch out too much. Well see what they think.
Harris English(Current OWGR rank: 39) English was a member the U.S. winning team at the 2021 Ryder Cup. He had been out of action for much of 2022 due to a hip injury and was now in danger of missing the Masters. He was tied for second at Arnold Palmer Invitational but climbed 40 positions in the world rankings, and appears to be safe.
Jason Day(Current OWGR rank: 43) Day is currently on the right side. He missed the Masters in 2010 for the first time since 2010. He is healthy and has made some swing changes. Day has three straight top-10s at The Genesis, WM Phoenix Open, and Farmers Insurance Open.
Keith Mitchell (Current OWGR ranking 47): Mitchell, a former Georgia star is playing some the best golf of all time. He tied for fourth in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and was fifth in The Genesis. He has only played in The Masters once, and tied for 43rd in 2019.
Min Woo Lee (Current OWGR rating: 50) The Australian tied for 14th at his Masters start in 2022. His older sister Minjee is the U.S. Womens Open Champion.
Lucas Herbert (Current OWGR Ranking: 51): The Australian is right on top of the bubble after a string of third-place finishes in PIF Saudi International and Hero Dubai Classic.
Taylor Montgomery (Current OWGR rank: 56) After a hot start to his PGA Tour career the former UNLV star cooled off with back-toback missed cuts at The Genesis and the WM Phoenix Open.
Victor Perez (Current OWGR rank: 60) Perez, a Frenchman, started the year ranked outside of the top 100. He won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he also played well in two other DP World Tour events.
Chris Kirk: The former University of Georgia star has entered the Masters field for his first time since failing to make the cut in 2016. Last month, he won his first PGA Tour win in nearly eight years at the Honda Classic.
Keegan Bradley:Bradley, who was seventh at Brooklines U.S. Open, will make his second Masters start in seven and first since 2019. His best finish at Augusta National came in 2015, when he tied for 22nd.
Scott Stallings: Although it took Stallings a little longer to receive his invitation, it was one he will cherish after waiting nine long years to play in The Masters again. He tied for 27th in 2012 but missed the cut this year.
Alex Noren: Noren, a Swedish national, will make his Masters debut after tying for 62nd place in 2019. He missed the cut in Augusta Nationals other two starts.
Aaron Wise: Wise was 17th in his Masters start in 2019, and then he missed the field in each year thereafter. He shot a 5-under-67 in the final round, which was equal to Jason Days lowest round of the day.
Names to Know
Adrian Meronk: Meronk, 29, was the first Polish player to make it to the cut in a PGA Tour event held at The Genesis in February. Two-time winner on DP World Tour, Meronk qualified for Masters by finishing in the top 50 of the world last year.
Gordon Sargent The NCAA Division I mens champion is the Vanderbilt sophomore. He was the first freshman to win the title since 2007. His average scoring in the first six events of this season was 67.3.
Sam Bennett: A fifth-year senior at Texas A&M, Bennett captured the 2022 U.S. Amateur Championship. He grew up on a Texas nine-hole course that kinda looks like a cow pasture.
Ben Carr: The 2022 U.S. Senior Championship saw Georgia Southern finish second. Amateur Championship. Carr is still an amateur, but he secured his PGA Tour Canada card last week.
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira: Fernandez de Oliveira was a senior at Arkansas and won the Latin America Amateur Championship. Fernandez de Oliveira had a record-low total, 23-under 265. Fernandez de Oliveira, a native of Argentina, also won spots in the U.S. Open Championship and Open Championship.
Changes to 13th hole
Augusta National hopes that the par-5 13th, which is traditionally the easiest hole on the course, will be a bit more challenging this year.
The 13th hole, Azalea, has been extended 35 yards to 545 yard. It was the only distance change that was noted in the Masters media guide. The courses length has been updated to 7,545 yards.
A tributary to Raes Creek protects the green on the difficult dogleg-left green. Golfers will have to make a tough decision about whether to play for the green in two. Augusta National bought land from Augusta Country Club to extend the 13th hole.
Ridley claimed that Bobby Jones had changed the way he wanted the hole to be played at the Masters last year because of the increased distance players were able to hit the tees from the fairway.
Ridley stated that the 13th hole doesnt present the same challenges as it has historically. The fact that players are hitting short to medium irons into that hole is not how it was intended is not what it was meant for. Its an iconic hole, which has been my reason for reluctance. Along with 12, 15 and possibly 12, these are the holes that have made the most history at Augusta National. That has been a bit of a deterrent to actually doing anything. But it is something we are likely to do at some point. We dont have much to say right now.
The Par 3 Contest will be held on April 5 on a course that has been completely redesigned. According to Eureka Earth several new structures were built and holes 1-5 were redone.
— Eureka Earth® (@EurekaEarthPlus) February 14, 2023
Eureka Earth also published a photo of the construction in May.
(📸 ©31MAY2022 David Dobbins/EurekaEarth)
— Eureka Earth® (@EurekaEarthPlus) September 19, 2022