One of the great events in the sporting calendar tees off this weekend, as The Masters gets underway at Augusta.
Last year, Scottie Scheffler secured his first major win and donned the coveted Green Jacket. The Texan is now the clear favorite to claim back-to-back victories in 2023. But can anyone stop him? Let's examine five potential contenders vying for one of golf's most prestigious prizes.
Scottie Scheffler: The Favourite
The World No.1 has been in remarkable form since the beginning of 2022, claiming six PGA Tour titles – most recently, the Players Championship in March. The 26-year-old triumphed at Augusta last year, finishing three strokes ahead of Rory McIlroy. A 2023 victory would make him one of the few golfers to win consecutive titles, joining legends like Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, and Tiger Woods. With Scheffler's impressive consistency – no finishes outside the top 12 since last October's CJ Cup – he's likely to be in contention come Sunday evening.
Rory McIlroy: The History Maker?
The Northern Irishman has the opportunity to complete a career Grand Slam at Augusta by adding The Masters title to his Open Championship, PGA Championship, and US Open victories. His recent Augusta experiences have been positive; a bogey-free final round of 64 in 2022 propelled him from ninth to runner-up. And he’s coming into the tournament in good form; not only did he start off the year by winning the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, but he enjoyed a confidence-boosting win over Scheffler in the third-place playoff at the WGC-Dell Matchplay a fortnight ago.
Cameron Smith: The Rebel
Among the LIV golfers participating in Augusta this weekend, 2022 Open Championship winner Cameron Smith may have the best shot at topping the leaderboard. The Australian has secured top-10 finishes in the past three Masters tournaments and demonstrated his grit in defeating McIlroy at St Andrews last summer. Don't be surprised if that same unwavering determination shines through once more at Augusta.
Jason Day: The Dark Horse
Currently ranked 35th in the world, Jason Day is showing a resurgence to top form. In the six tournaments he's played in 2023, the Australian has achieved four top-ten finishes, and with the 2015 PGA Championship title under his belt, he knows what it takes to win a major. His best performance at The Masters was a runner-up finish in 2011. This could very well be the year he goes the extra mile and claims the title.
Cameron Young: The Breakthrough Star
The 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is a contender at Augusta, having placed second at The Open and third in the 2022 PGA Championship. For further evidence of his potential, look to his recent WGC-Dell Matchplay semi-final, where he bested Rory McIlroy in a sudden-death extra hole after trailing by two with three holes remaining. Young could very well make his major breakthrough at Augusta.
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