Wednesday, December 07, 2022

The Masters ’22: A Brief Look at the 10 (or 11) Contenders at Augusta

AUGUSTA, Ga. ( Associated Press) — A capsule look at the 10 (or 11) leading contenders for the 86th Masters, to be played April 7-10 at Augusta National. Listed in approximate order of termination:

Justin Thomas

Age: 28.

Country: United States of America.

World ranking: 7.

Worldwide wins: 14.

Major: PGA Championship (2017).

Best Performance in a Masters: Fourth.

Masters Moment: To be part of a five-way tie for the lead after 36 holes in November 2020.

Notable: As a pro he only has five top-10 finishes in 24 majors.

Backspin: While he has gone more than a year without a win, Thomas has finished in the top 10 in six of his past nine starts and has kept his driving force. His only good week in the Masters was in the softer conditions of November 2020.

Dustin Johnson

Age: 37.

Country: United States of America.

World ranking: 8.

Worldwide wins: 25.

Majors: Masters (2020), US Open (2016).

Best Finish at the Masters: Won.

Masters Moment: Being so emotional about winning in 2020 that I could not speak.

Notable: He hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the Masters in 2020. His last win was the Saudi International 14 months ago.

Backspin: Johnson has looked sharp lately, and has said in recent weeks that he is “trending”. Even as he has been out of the top 10 for a while, he remains one of the key players in the game.

john rahm

Age: 27.

Country: Spain.

World ranking: 2.

Worldwide wins: 13.

Major: US Open (2021).

Best performance in Masters: 4th in 2018.

Masters Moment: Starting 2018 with 75 and still giving himself a chance to win on Sunday until he went overboard on the 15th hole.

Notable: South Africa and Spain are currently tied for the most number of player Masters wins.

Backspin: He’s been better than ever from tee-to-green this year without changing too many puts. Rahm has finished in the top 10 at the Masters over the past four years, and he was the only player to finish in the top 10 in all four majors last year.

Scotty Scheffler

Age: 25.

Country: United States of America.

World Ranking: 1.

Worldwide wins: 3.

Major: None.

Best performance in the Masters: Tie for 18th.

Masters moment: Going into the top 50 as a PGA Tour rookie to qualify for his first Masters in 2020.

Notable: He is the first player since Dustin Johnson in 2017 to have won three times in the year leading up to the Masters.

Backspin: Six weeks ago he was looking for his first PGA Tour win. Now he is a three-time winner and No. 1 in the world. But look no further than the last six weeks. Schaffler has finished in the top 20 in all six majors he has played since receiving his PGA Tour card.

Jordan Spieth

Age: 28.

Country: United States of America.

World ranking: 17.

Worldwide wins: 15.

Majors: Masters (2015), US Open (2015), British Open (2017).

Best Finish at the Masters: Won.

Masters moment: 2015 was going to be wired for a four-shot win over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose.

Notable: He already has five top-three spots in eight appearances at the Masters.

Backspin: He ended his long winning streak going into the Masters last year, but he hasn’t won since the Texas Open and has competed at Pebble Beach only once this year. Still, his track record at Augusta National shows that he can find his way into the mix, especially as he shreds foul balls off the tee.

xander shovels

Age: 28.

Country: United States of America.

World ranking: 10.

Worldwide wins: 5.

Major: None.

Best Finish in the Masters: Runner-up in 2019.

Masters moment: Hitting an 8-iron in the water in 16th place after cutting Hideki Matsuyama’s two-shot lead in the final round of 2021.

Notable: Her Olympic gold medal in Tokyo last summer is her only win in the past three years.

Backspin: He was second only to Tiger Woods in 2019, and he was closing in on Hideki Matsuyama last year to a triple bogey on the 16th hole. Among young players without a major, he competes more with them than the rest.


Age: 32.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 9.

Worldwide wins: 28.

Majors: US Open (2011), PGA Championship (2012, 2014), British Open (2014).

Best Performance in a Masters: Fourth in 2015.

Masters Moment: Four-shot lead and finish with 80 in 2011.

Notable: This will be his eighth attempt at a career Grand Slam to win the Masters, since winning the British Open in 2014.

Backspin: The career Grand Slam doesn’t get as much attention as it was in years past, but it still is. McIlroy has shown he is capable of Augusta National. But the trail of missing out on a big lead in 2011 and a final group loss against Patrick Reed in 2018 only adds to the burden.

Patrick Cantley

Age: 30.

Country: United States of America.

World ranking: 5.

Worldwide wins: 5.

Major: None.

Best Finish in the Masters: Tie for Ninth in 2019.

Masters moment: To take the lead in 2019 by making an eagle on the 15th hole, only to bogey the next two holes and tie for the ninth.

Notable: He only has two Top 10s in the 14 Majors he played as a pro.

Backspin: Cantley showed his potential late last year, when he won three times and captured the FedEx Cup. But while there are no real weaknesses in his game, he hasn’t been at his best going into Augusta, dropping out of the top 20 in his last three starts.

Hideki Matsuyama

Age: 30.

Country: Japan.

World ranking: 12.

Worldwide wins: 17.

Major: Masters (2021).

Best Finish at the Masters: Won.

The Masters moment: Raising his arms in the air as he wears the green jacket.

Notable: Matsuyama is the eighth player to have been the least amateur and champion at the Masters.

Backspin: Not one to get a lot of attention, Matsuyama hosts the Masters Club dinner on Tuesday night and will be under more pressure than usual as the defending champions. He hurt his neck and shoulder at Bay Hill and did not play for three weeks until the Texas Open before the Masters.

Colin Morikawa

Age: 25.

Country: United States of America.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide wins: 6.

Major: PGA Championship (2020), British Open (2021).

Best performance in the Masters: Tie for 18th.

Masters Moment: He has played the 11th hole in the equal of 7 overs in his eight rounds at Augusta National.

Notable: He won three times on the PGA Tour before playing in his first Masters.

Backspin: Morikawa won the PGA Championship in her second attempt and the British Open in her first attempt. This is his third Masters. He says he tried to change his game to fit in at Augusta National when he should have relied on a sport that has already won six wins around the world.

X-Tiger Woods

Age: 46.

Country: United States of America.

World ranking: 944.

Worldwide wins: 93.

Majors: Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019), US Open (2000, 2002, 2008), British Open (2000, 2005, 2006), PGA Championship (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007).

Best Finish at the Masters: Won

The Mastering Moment: Winning a record 12 shots in his professional debut in 1997, completing his sweep of the majors in 2001, winning after undergoing four back surgeries in 2019.

Notable: He could tie Jack Nicklaus to the sixth green jacket and replace Nicklaus as the oldest Masters champion.

Backspin: Woods has not played since the November 2020 Masters as his right leg was badly damaged in a car accident in the coastal Los Angeles suburbs in February 2021. His only competition since then was at the PNC Championships in December playing a scramble format with his 12-year-old son and using a cart.


x – If he will play then is not announced.


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