2022 PGA Tour Tournament Preview: The Mastersby Christopher Gallagher April 6, 2022 0 comments
As fans around the globe prepare for the game’s most regal tournament, Augusta National Golf Club is back in full force and The Masters start tomorrow. Fanfare will be at a surplus as Augusta is filling the gallery to capacity for the first time since 2019. Practice rounds emulated rush hour in Times Square, with spectators crammed throughout the property. Most of the attention is focused on Tiger Woods, who is expected to make his long-anticipated return. Given his injury, Woods’ entry into the tournament will be a spectacle in itself. Though his return will be the story, he is facing a loaded field. The level of play that will be displayed this week could match any past field as every player in the top-10 OWGR rankings will be competing.
This 86th Masters will feature an impressive crop of young talent. Players such as Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, and Scottie Scheffler have been on an impressive run and look to secure their first green jacket. While seasoned vets like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Hideki Matsuyama look to stroll their way back to The Butler Cabin. As the sun smiles upon Augusta fairways in the coming days, we are eager to see what this year’s story will be. Our golf experts will break down both favorites and sleepers for this prestigious tournament held on historic grounds.
Favorite: Cameron Smith
The young Aussie is coming off a recent win at The Players Championship that secured him the sixth spot in OWGR. His best score at the Masters was a T-2 finish in 2020. The 28-year-old would go on finish T-10 in his following outing at Augusta. With a putter that has been near perfection in recent months, look for Smith’s short game to take him far on Augusta’s lighting fast greens.
A five-time PGA Tour winner, Smith has become one of the players on the rise in 2022. After securing his win at the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Queensland native kept form, climbing the ladder in FedEx Cup points. With four top-10 finishes in 2021-2022, Smith is looking to keep this momentum going. Playing as comfortably as ever, look for the young pro to make a move this week.
Favorite: Jordan Spieth
In 2015, Spieth put the world on notice. Introducing himself as a young ball-striker while securing a green jacket and a FedEx Cup championship in the same season. The Texan finished runner-up at Augusta the year prior but might be most remembered in Georgia for his meltdown in 2016. Leading by five heading into the back-nine, Spieth carded a quad-bogey on the 12th hole. This blunder left Spieth broken, and the golf world stunned.
One has to question if a course this historic has paranormal tendencies. Holding the best flat stick within 20-25 feet last season, be on the lookout for Spieth to drop some bombs on these pristine greens. The 28-year-old shot up the OWGR in the past year, and his game is looking to be back in tune. If he can stay on the fairway this week, a top-five finish is very attainable. Expect the 2017 Open Champion to conquer old demons at Augusta this week.
Favorite: Viktor Hovland
OWGR’s No. 4 golfer has shot up the charts of PGA Tour relevancy and looks to continue the ascent. This year has been a coming-out party for the young gun. In mid 2021, Hovland became the first Norwegian to win on the European Tour. Shortly after, Hovland then defended his title at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Wins seem to be coming in bunches for Hovland during a stretch in which fine-tuning has been a priority. Though his finishes at Augusta haven’t been too impressive, his game has come a long way. He has shown he is ready for the spotlight and can be a serious contender in a major tournament. With an impressive run in the past 12 months, he appears ready for a jacket fitting.
Sleepers: Will Zalatoris
Finishing runner-up in last year’s Masters, Zalatoris proved he is ready to compete at a major level. Though his putting has been spotty, his ball-striking is up there with the best. Dropping the Farmers in January gave more reason for ridicule, as his putter failed him yet again. If the Texas native can lock in on his short-range putts, his first PGA win will come sooner rather than later. Look for the young pro to change his fortunes, as the stage is set for a masterful first victory.
Sleepers: Max Homa
Ever since he secured his first PGA Tour win, Homa’s career has been steadily trending upward. After the California native won in front of a home crowd at the Genesis in 2021, he’s gained confidence in his abilities to compete with the best in the game. Missed cuts have been a habit during major tournaments for the 31-year-old. Fortunately for him, Augusta has produced crazier headlines. If his game can line up like it has three previous times on tour, Homa can find himself in contention for his first green jacket.
Favorite: Justin Thomas
Thomas is set to make his seventh appearance at the Masters this weekend. The 28-year-old has shown well at the tournament throughout his career. He finished in a tie for fourth in 2020. The current seventh-ranked player in the world was also one shot off the lead heading into Saturday a year ago after carding a second-round 67. One of the best ball strikers in the field, the University of Alabama alumn has the game to navigate the challenging fairways at Augusta National.
The 28-year-old is currently second on tour in strokes gained from tee to green while also ranking third in total strokes gained each round. Heating up on the greens over his last few appearances, if he can putt well all weekend long, it should set him up well to capture his first green jacket.
Favorite: Brooks Koepka
Koepka is beginning to play better after a slow start to the year. The 31-year-old has finished inside the top 20 in two of his last three events. A proven player in big moments his career, the 31-year-old has finished inside the top 10 in over 50 percent of the majors he has played in. He has the distance to attack the makeable par fives at Augusta. The Florida State University alumn is currently ranked 23rd on tour in driving distance, with over 309 yards averaged per tee shot. Along with this, his iron play has begun to pick up of late. The nine-year veteran has picked up strokes on his approach shots over the last month.
Favorite: Scottie Scheffler
Scheffler has been the hottest golfer on tour during the 2022 season. The current world’s No. 1 has already won three times during his 12 starts. Fresh off a victory at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the Dallas native also claimed titles at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Waste Management. Known for his stellar short game, the University of Texas alumn is ranked 18th on tour in strokes gained putting. Furthermore, he is seventh in scoring average and 18th in greens in regulation. Looking to improve after two shaky starts at the Masters during his young career; he finished in a tie 18th a year ago.
Sleeper: Adam Scott
Scott is peaking at the right time, heading into the first major of the season. The 41-year-old is fresh off a tie for fourth at the Genesis Invitational in California. He also finished ninth at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. Among the best iron players in the field, Scott has also been locked in with his putter. A former winner at Augusta, the Australian native, captured the green jacket in 2013. In addition to this, he has not missed the cut at the Masters since 2009. Currently listed at +5500 to win the tournament, he offers tremendous value.
Sleeper: Tiger Woods
Woods will be making his return to tournament golf for the first time in 17 months. He has not appeared in a PGA Tour event since the 2020 Masters after breaking his leg in a car accident. The five-time champion at Augusta will be looking to earn his sixth green jacket to tie Jack Nicklaus for the most all-time. Arriving in Georgia on Sunday, the 46-year-old has reportedly looked good in practice rounds alongside Thomas and Freddie Couples. He has averaged over 290 yards off the tee with his driver while reaching ball speeds of 174 mph. Currently listed at 66 to 1 to capture the tournament, if anyone can win after an extended lay off it’s Tiger.
Favorite: Justin Thomas
Thomas has been very good to start his 2022 campaign despite not capturing a tournament victory thus far. He does, however, have three top-eight finishes in his last four tournaments. Furthermore, he is coming off a third-place finish at the Valspar Championship just a few weekends ago. Thomas has never won at Augusta but he has always been good. He has never missed a cut and should continue that again this year as he looks for his first Green Jacket.
Favorite: Brooks Koepka
Koepka was battling some injuries last year and that was a big reason for his missed cut. However, he is healthy this year and should bounce back from his disappointing Masters last year. Especially, since he is very good at Major tournaments and more specifically the Masters. Although he has been unable to capture the victory, he does however have one runner-up finish and two additional top 11s in six tournaments. This very well could be the year Koepka brings it home.
Favorite: Viktor Hovland
It is only a matter of time before Hovland starts to win some major championships. In his only two Masters appearances, he finished 21st in 2021 and 32nd as the top amateur in 2019. This year Hovland has yet to pick up a win on the PGA Tour. However, he did pick up a victory in the Dubai Port World Tour and also added a second-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s playing good golf and should be a contender for his first Major this weekend.
Sleeper: Max Homa
Homa is coming into the Masters under the radar. A big reason for that is not making the cut in either two of his career Masters appearances. However, this year he has only missed one cut on the PGA Tour. Furthermore, he has finished in the top 17 in five of six tournaments to start the year. Moreover, he is coming off his best year as a golfer in 2021. At his odds, he’s worth throwing a few dollars on and hoping he can put it all together for a run at a major victory.
Sleeper: Tony Finau
Finau has hovered around the top 10 for most of his Master’s career. In fact, in only four tournaments at the Masters, he has brought home a top 10 three times. If he can get hot at the right time he could certainly pull off the upset even with his struggles to start the year. However, he did have himself a good weekend at the Valero Texas Open finishing T-29 and shooting six-under-par. Look for him to use that momentum and put himself in the running at Augusta.
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