Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Network
The 2023 Masters Tournament is thick with intrigue as 18 LIV Golf players join the 88-player field at Augusta National.
The chase for the green jacket begins Thursday, and our golf experts provide key event notes along with their favorite prop picks and best bets to win the first major of 2023.
Location: Augusta, Ga., April 6-9
Course: Augusta National Golf Club (Par 72, 7,545 yards)
Purse: $TBA (Winner: TBA)
Defending Champion: Scottie Scheffler
FedEx Cup leader: Jon Rahm
HOW TO FOLLOW
TV: Thursday-Friday, 3-7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN); Saturday, 3-7 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, 2-7 p.m. (CBS)
–Tiger Woods to Miss Cut (+160 at BetMGM): If Tiger plays the weekend, he’ll tie the all-time record shared by Fred Couples (1983-2007) and Gary Player (1959-1982) with 23 consecutive cuts made at the Masters. However, numerous factors are playing against Woods. Not only has he competed only once this year – making the cut at the Genesis Invitational – he has been battling plantar fasciitis. The walk this week around the massive and undulating grounds at Augusta National will only be made harder by the cool and damp conditions expected. While 60.4% of the money wagered thus far has backed Tiger to make the weekend, 53.5% of the total tickets have been placed on him missing the cut.
–Cameron Smith to Beat Jordan Spieth (+125 at DraftKings): We were tempted to steer clear of the sportsbook’s slew of LIV versus PGA Tour matchups because it’s near impossible to gauge the state of LIV players’ games, but this one is too intriguing. Spieth won the green jacket in 2015 but has one top-15 in his past four Masters. Yes, Smith hasn’t played well through one DP World Tour and three LIV events this year, but Augusta clearly suits his eye. Smith, who said he feels “comfy” at the venue, tied for third last year after a runner-up the previous year.
–Jon Rahm to Lead/Tie Lead After Any Round (+300 at BetRivers): Rahm is one of the pre-tournament favorites at +900, but one of the hottest players on the planet somehow seems to be flying a bit under the radar this week. Not only does the Spaniard have three wins already this season, he has four top-10s in six previous Masters. We like his chances to win, so it stands to reason we like his chances to hold at least the share of the lead after one of the four rounds.
–Scottie Scheffler (+700 at BetMGM) already has a pair of wins this year and reached the semifinals of the Match Play in his most recent start. Despite the shortlist of players to win consecutive green jackets, Scheffler has been backed by 5.8% of the total outright winning tickets and 6.4% of the money.
–Rory McIlroy (+700) placed second last year and finished 2022 as the only player to record a top-10 finish in all four majors. He’s the sportsbook’s third-biggest liability, leading the field with 8.6% of the total money backing him to win.
–Jon Rahm (+900) already has three wins this season. He also has four top-10s in six previous Masters starts and has never finished lower than T27.
–Jordan Spieth (+1800) was the 2015 champion. He has a lone top-15 finish in his past four Masters starts, but still owns the lowest career scoring average at Augusta in the field at 70.71 (Woods is second at 71.05). He doesn’t have a win but does have three top-10s on the season.
–Patrick Cantlay (+1800), the highest-ranked player in the field without a major title at No. 4, did earn low-amateur honors with a T47 in 2012.
–Cameron Smith (+2000) is BetMGM’s biggest liability this week. He leads the field with 6.4% of the total bets backing him to win and is second with 7.4% of the money.
–Justin Thomas (+2000) has posted top-25 finishes in each of the past six Masters, with a high of fourth in 2020.
–Collin Morikawa (+2200) posted his best Masters finish with a fifth last year. He has three top-10s this season, including a runner-up at the Tournament of Champions.
–Dustin Johnson (+2500) won the delayed 2021 Masters played in November, so he should be very comfortable with the softer conditions expected this week. He finished seventh in last week’s LIV Golf event in Orlando.
–Jason Day (+2500) already has six top-10s this season, tying his most in a season since 2015-16, including five in his past six starts. Day, who finished second at the Masters in his debut in 2011, failed to qualify last year.
–Scheffler claimed his first major title with a three-stroke victory over McIlroy last year. He is trying to join Jack Nicklaus (1966), Nick Faldo (1990), and Tiger Woods (2002) as the only players to successfully defend a Masters title. Scheffler is 1-for-3 in title defenses this season, winning at the Phoenix Open in February. He is also trying to join Woods (2001) as the only players to win the Players Championship and the Masters in the same year.
–McIlroy, who won his most recent major title in 2015, will make another attempt to become the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam.
–Woods will make only his second start of the season as he seeks to tie Nicklaus’ record of six green jackets. With a win, he would also break a tie with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour victories of all-time with 83.
–Cantlay and Max Homa are the only players with at least six wins over the past five seasons who have not won a major in their career. Cantlay has seven wins in that span, while Homa has six.
–Sam Burns, who won the WGC-Match Play event two weeks ago, is attempting to become the first player to win consecutive starts since Scheffler won the Match Play and Masters last year. So, too, is Conners, who enters with three consecutive top-10 Masters finishes.
–Five PGA Tour players will be making their Masters debuts: Tom Kim, Kurt Kitayama, Taylor Moore, Adam Svensson, and Sahith Theegala. All but Theegala have earned a win on tour this season. The most recent player to win his Masters debut was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. The other two are Gene Sarazen in 1935 and Horton Smith in 1934.
–Field Level Media contributed to this story