Masters 2023: Five players to watch at Augusta

Scottie Scheffler is at the top of the world rankings and is returning as defending champion

Scottie Scheffler

World ranking: 1st

Age: 26

Best Masters finish: 1st (2022)

Odds: 8/1


What’s to like: What’s not to like, in truth? Scheffler is at the top of the world rankings for a very good reason – two wins, in the Phoenix Open and The Players, in his last five outings on tour – and as defending champion is back at a favoured place. Another player to have made a couple of advance trips to the venue to ease the demands in the practice days ahead of the tournament itself.

Jason Day

World ranking: 33rd

Age: 35

Best Masters finish: 2nd (2011)

Odds: 25/1

What’s to like: If he can head in fit and healthy (which has been his big issue in recent years), Day has the all-round game to claim a second career Major title. The Aussie, a former world number one, was ranked 112th at the end of 2022 but has improved to 33rd in the latest standings on the back of a strong run of form which features five top-10s in his last six tournament appearances.

Sahith Theegala

World ranking: 28th

Age: 25

Best Masters finish: Debut

Odds: 100/1

What’s to like: Okay, we know all about how tough it is for a rookie Masters participant to win. We know Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 was the last to do it. But, but ... !! There’s something about Theegala that has him on a fast-track to the top and his game looks tailor-made for Augusta National with the ability to conquer the Par 5s especially a key part of his strategy. He has five top-10s on the PGA Tour so far this wraparound season.

Shane Lowry

World ranking: 23rd

Age: 35

Best Masters finish: 3rd (2022)

Odds: 50/1

What’s to like: Although he had a hectic early-year schedule in attempting to marry playing both the European and US circuits, has been able to find a better balance in recent weeks and even managed a couple of advance visits to Augusta National. A third placed finish behind Scheffler a year ago only confirmed how the Offalyman’s game is so suited to the layout. A big-time player who delivers on the biggest stages.

Danny Willett

World ranking: 91st

Age: 35

Best Masters finish: 1st (2016)

Odds: 150/1

What’s to like: Don’t faint at the suggestion that the Englishman can add a second Masters green jacket to his wardrobe. Past champions tend to have an extra pep in their step on returning to Augusta National and Willett – whose last tournament win came in the 2021 Dunhill Links – has shown more consistent form this season with only one missed cut in six PGA Tour outings so far this year and encouraging signs that his game (fingers crossed on the putting!) is in good shape.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times