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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Sidelines: Masters preview
The best players in golf will descend on Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters next week. (Photo courtesy of

It’s (almost) time to take a trip down Magnolia Lane. With Masters’ week just around the corner, these are my takes on the favorites to win the first major of 2024.

The 2022 Masters Champion and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler is on a tear right now, and if his putter stays hot, he is going to be unstoppable at Augusta. Scheffler won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players in back-to-back weeks in March, and that was with a neck injury during the Players. His shot-shaping, course management and consistency are off the charts, and somehow, Scheffler is one of the most down-to-earth guys on tour.

By far the betting favorite for the tournament, I would be surprised if Scheffler does any worse than a top-five finish. Then again, he missed a 5-foot putt to force a playoff and have a chance to win in three straight starts in Houston this week, so take everything I said with a grain of salt.

Scheffler will be the favorite going into the week, but he will have to contend with defending Masters champion and recent LIV defect Jon Rahm, who seems to hate just about everything about LIV except the money. I genuinely haven’t seen Rahm play golf since he left the PGA Tour, but he has finished in the top 10 in each of his four LIV starts this year, so I have no doubt he’ll be itching to get out of the gates come Thursday.

Rory McIlroy has had the Masters circled on his calendar for the past 10 years. After winning both the PGA Championship and the Open Championship in 2014, the Masters is the final step to complete the career grand slam. Although McIlroy has been up-and-down so far this year and hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the Scottish Open last summer, he currently sits at 10-1 odds next week, so don’t count him out. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention LIV players like Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith. Koepka and Mickelson (who has three green jackets) were joint runners-up to Rahm last year, and Johnson’s 2020 win gives him credibility, too.

Cam Smith is also an Augusta perennial — he has made the cut in all seven of his Masters starts and has had top-10 finishes in four out of his last six starts, including a solo second finish in 2020 behind Johnson.

Golden boy Wyndham Clark will be making his first Masters start this year. This time last year, he didn’t have a single tour win to his name, but his wins at Quail Hollow during the Wells Fargo Championship and Los Angeles Country Club for the U.S. Open last season elevated him to No. 4 in the world. He didn’t stop there, winning at the (shortened) Pebble Beach Pro-Am this year and experiencing one of the worst lip-outs I’ve ever seen to force a playoff with Scheffler at the Players. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here: Clark is the new Koepka.

He has a penchant for showing up in the biggest moments and at the most storied courses — Quail Hollow, LACC, Pebble Beach and TPC Sawgrass are all bucket list courses. He is also quietly cocky: he passed up two offers to play at Augusta National because he didn’t want to see the course until he qualified for the Masters. Ask any golfer you know — an invitation to Augusta is not something you pass up. Well, he finally qualified, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts together something special next week. 

For my sake, I need the Cali kids (Max Homa and Collin Morikawa) to play well next week. Homa has an abysmal major record for a top-10 golfer (his best finish in a major was a t-10 at the Open last year) and Morikawa has gone cold since his rapid-fire major wins in 2020 and 2021.

The safe pick: Scottie Scheffler

My pick: Wyndham Clark

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About the Contributor
Grace Sanborn
Grace Sanborn, Assistant Sports Editor
Thinks hitting a ball with a stick outside for four hours is fun.

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