Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Masters 2024 – storylines to follow: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Tiger Woods and more -Dlight News

Will Scottie Scheffler dominate The Masters? Can Rory McIlroy complete the career Grand Slam? What can we expect from Tiger Woods? Will Jon Rahm go back to back at Augusta National? A closer look at the major week ahead, live on Sky Sports Golf

Will ‘superstar’ Scheffler enjoy more major success?

Scottie Scheffler has become the dominant force in golf and has a commanding advantage at the top of the world rankings, with the American now looking to build on a strong start to the year and add to his major tally.

The 27-year-old has won eight times in just 26 months on the PGA Tour, including a breakthrough major success at The Masters in 2022, with the world No 1 arriving at Augusta National with six top-six finishes in his first eight starts this year.

Scheffler cruised to victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and overcame injury to claim a successful title defence at The Players, then threatened a third consecutive win before having to settle for a share of second at the Texas Children’s Houston Open last month.

He missed a five-foot putt on the 72nd hole in Houston that would have forced a play-off, with his performances on the greens the only aspect of his game showing any signs of inconsistency. He tops the strokes gained and tee-to-green statistics once again this season, just like last year, although languishes around 100th in the putting metrics.

On Scheffler’s hopes, Sky Sports’ Nick Dougherty said: “There are enough reps of good memory for him now with the putter for him to believe that he has made a shift in that department. We know his long game is reliable as clockwork, he has obviously won at Augusta before, and everything points towards him being the guy to beat.”

Can McIlroy complete the career Grand Slam?

It seems ridiculous to think Rory McIlroy’s major drought is entering a 10th year, given how much he has achieved over the past decade, but the Northern Irishman arrives at Augusta National with another chance to join golf’s elite club.

McIlroy won the most recent of his four major titles at the 2014 PGA Championship and just needs The Masters to become the first player since Tiger Woods to complete the career Grand Slam, with the former world No 1 once again among the pre-tournament favourites.

The 34-year-old has six top-10 finishes at Augusta during that run, including second place behind Scheffler in 2022, although has missed the cut in two of his previous three visits to the event. McIlroy bounced back from a slow start to his PGA Tour campaign to finish third at the Valero Texas Open and will now look to take that form into the opening major.

McIlroy’s approach play has been a particular area of inconsistency in recent months, revealing ahead of The Players that he felt like he had ‘two different swings’ for his woods and irons, leading to him taking a trip to Las Vegas last month for a four-hour lesson with legendary coach Butch Harmon.

“He [McIlroy] has got a good game plan and it’s just a matter of executing it,” Harmon said about McIlroy. “He’s got to figure out a way to let himself relax and let himself play golf. That’s the big key and if he can do that he is going to give himself a very good chance to win.”

Could Rahm defend his title at Augusta?

Only three players have successfully defended their title at The Masters – Jack Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods – with Jon Rahm having the opportunity to enjoy that illustrious group after last year’s four-shot win over Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.


The Masters – Live


Thursday 11th April 2:00pm


Rahm last featured on the PGA Tour at August’s Tour Championship and hasn’t played on the DP World Tour since the DP World Tour Championship in November, with the Spaniard joining the LIV Golf League ahead of the 2024 campaign.

The former world No 1 has had four top-eight finishes in his five starts on the LIV Golf circuit this season, including a share of fourth in Miami on Sunday, although Faldo has questioned whether the lack of 72-hole preparation will hamper Rahm’s chances.

“I think he feels that [lack of intensity],” Faldo told the Sky Sports Golf podcast. “He’s a hell of a player, but he’s going to have to make a little bit of effort to step it up and get the right intensity. Whether coming into defend you can do it, or whether he’s just not quite sharp enough because he hasn’t tested himself quite as much, we’ll have to wait and see.”

On his own chances, Rahm said: “Hopefully I can keep doing all the good things I’ve done this week next week and avoid a couple silly mistakes and hopefully go back-to-back.”

What can we expect from Tiger’s return?

Woods returns to action for the first time since withdrawing mid-round from February’s Genesis Invitational, with the golfing world intrigued to see whether the 15-time major champion’s body can cope with 72 holes.

Woods has only played all four rounds of an event three times since sustaining career-threatening leg and ankle injuries during a car crash in February 2021, with the former world No 1 having to cut short last year’s appearance at Augusta National due to reaggravating plantar fasciitis in his foot.

This year’s event marks the fifth anniversary of Woods’ incredible 2019 success, where he claimed a first major victory in 11 years and won The Masters for a fifth time, while simply reaching the weekend this week would see him break the Augusta record for most consecutive cuts made at 24.

Former coach Harmon believes Woods feels his body can cope with the physical test of Augusta, saying: “Tiger has never been a player who plays for the sake of playing. He doesn’t tee it up unless he’s 100 per cent confident in his ability to compete to give himself a chance.

“From what little I’ve seen of his swing, it looks pretty good. It’s whether he can handle the physical strain of walking all these holes on one of the hilliest golf courses we play. He knows how to get around Augusta but the big question is will his body allow him to become Tiger Woods again.”


The Masters – Live


Wednesday 10th April 7:30pm


Will a LIV player win The Masters?

There are 13 players from LIV Golf at The Masters this year, down from the 18 who earned an invite for the 2023 contest, with Rahm among the hopefuls from the circuit looking to win the Green Jacket.

2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia arrives off the back of a play-off loss at the LIV Golf event in Miami on Sunday, where Tyrrell Hatton was in contention and former major winners Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau – both in the Augusta field – finished inside the top 10.

Joaquin Niemann also finished tied-ninth, continuing his strong start to 2024, while 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson has already won a LIV Golf League event this year and Brooks Koepka – the reigning PGA champion – arrives looking to go one better than his runner-up finish last April.

Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel and Adrian Meronk also feature alongside Cameron Smith, who had to withdraw from the Miami event through illness, with Koepka confident that this year’s Masters champion could come from the LIV Golf contingent.


The Masters – Live


Thursday 11th April 7:30pm


“I like the chances [of a LIV winner],” Koepka said. “A lot of guys playing well.” We will have to see where the five-time major champion’s predictions come true later this week.

When is The Masters on Sky Sports?

Wall-to-wall coverage from the tournament begins at 2pm over the first two rounds on Thursday April 11 and Friday April 12, with Featured Group action and regular updates from around the course available to enjoy on Sky Sports Golf until the global broadcast window begins at 8pm.

There will be lots of extra action throughout all four days via the red button on Sky Sports Golf, along with Sky Q and Sky Glass, providing plenty of bonus feeds and allowing you to follow players’ progress through various parts of Augusta’s famous layout.

Sky Sports Golf will show extended build-up content over the weekend and occasional live updates from the course before the global broadcast window starts at 8pm for the third round and 7pm for the final day, with early action available throughout via the red button.

Who will win The Masters? Watch live from April 11-14 exclusively on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins with Featured Groups on Thursday April 11 from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, majors and more with NOW.

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