The 88th Masters | Scheffler ticks Augusta box for second Green Jacket

Masters, golf

Major season kicks off this week with the 88th Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

In a PGA Tour season that returned to a calendar year format, the sights of Magnolia Lane are a sight for sore eyes.

As Jon Rahm returns to the Peach State to defend the Green Jacket, it is perennial number 1 rival Scottie Scheffler who looks primed.

The New Jersey native is the bookies’ overwhelming pick to make a second trip to the Butler Cabin.

But in a season with no less than five maiden PGA Tour winners already, can we pluck any names to feature that could pocket punters a return?


Scheffler in box seat

Once again, Scottie Scheffler carries a huge wave of backing into a major and with good reason.

The 2022 Masters champion, the 27-year-old comes here off a successful defence of the Players Championship at Sawgrass last month.

Prior to that a weekend before, Scheffler won a second Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The American won at Bay Hill also in 2022; for omen-seekers, he then claimed his first Green Jacket a month later.

Not only that, the New Jersey native tops the statistics across the board on the PGA Tour this term.

Leading the rankings in scoring average, birdie average, green approach as well as greens in regulation, the newly-hirsute Scheffler is a man in form.

A hotter favourite than for many a year, the front-runner can be fetched to win a second Green Jacket at a best price of 4/1 for 10 places with Betfred.

However, a focal point of many a final round this term, Scheffler has not converted regularly, so who could challenge?


Schauffele, Clark can feature

As major season begins at Augusta, once again, the contenders are queuing up.

For once, the little-to-no form of Rory McIlroy is leaving the Northern Irishman in the dark with pundits; that could finally be McIlroy’s friend as he looks to seal the Grand Slam.

For the moment, there looks to be two main men in the frame for the 88th Masters, Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark.

In the case of the former, the Californian is one of the form horses with a scoring average second only to Scheffler.

Augusta has been a fond playing ground for Schauffele in the past, so could 2024 finally be his time to break the major drought?

A tied runner-up behind Tiger Woods’ in 2019, Schauffele has three top 10 finishes in Georgia and could be a smart 16/1 pick for 8 places with 888sport.

Clark, meanwhile, already has a victory this term in the Pebble Beach Pro Am, and proved his major credentials in Los Angeles last summer.

The current US Open champion, Clark carries longer odds of 28/1 for 8 places with BoyleSports.

Two names from the Tour at big prices, both Corey Conners and Denny McCarthy could be big players this week.

Winners of previous Masters will attest to the significance of finding the greens and Conners is second this term for greens in reg.

The Canadian finished T6 two years back, and 70/1 for 8 places looks huge.

McCarthy, meanwhile, makes his Augusta bow and is second in scrambling this season; a key facet of any major winner.

The Marylander was last season the best putter around and only last weekend was beaten in a play-off by Akshay Bhatia in the Valero Texas Open.

If he can follow through his form, McCarthy can be prominent at a 100/1 smash-up.


Rahm leads LIV charge; Niemann form

Major season sees the best players in the game assemble once more, including a reunion with the LIV Golf League crowd.

Now a joint venture with the PGA and DP World Tour, members of Greg Norman’s breakaway competition may be given a warmer welcome than last year.

The warmest of those will be for the defending champ, Jon Rahm, however, his form is anything but gleaming.

Having joined LIV at the end of last year, Rahm’s lack of form has spilled over from a winless year elsewhere on the Tour, so can he end the drought this week?


Of the returning troupe, Joaquin Niemann looks a good punt to do well.

A winner of half the events played in 2024, the Chilean was victorious in both Mexico and most recently Jeddah last month.

Niemann makes his fourth visit to Augusta this week, with an ever-improving record.

T40 on debut in 2021, he moved up to T35 a year later and last year recorded a best of T16.

With experience under his belt, Niemann looks a smart bet at 25/1 for 8 places with William Hill.

Then of course, there is the weighty presence of Brooks Koepka.

The current PGA Champion, Koepka came so close last year, surrendering a four-stroke final round lead.

A five-time major winner, the Floridian is likely to feature again at a still decent 18/1 for 8 places.

One other LIV name to watch this week, Dustin Johnson could be a surprise package.

Yet to add to his major collection since the pandemic Masters, DJ was a winner in Las Vegas back in February.

Johnson won the Green Jacket four years ago as an 8/1 shot; this week he holds a far stronger 40/1 for 7 places with BetUK.

The DJ could yet Master Augusta again.


Can Tiger make cut?

If punters are looking at different take for the 88th Masters, it could come from a returning icon.

Tiger Woods is set to play just his second tournament this year, after pulling out of the Genesis in February.

The five-time Masters champion competes in his 26th Masters, looking to make the cut for a record-breaking 24th time.

Currently holding that stat alongside Gary Player and Fred Couples, his chances look reasonable to make the weekend.

Making the cut last year but forced to withdraw due to the Georgia deluge on the Saturday, the conditions 12 months on look favourable with warm weather.

Woods always rises to the occasion at Augusta and a 5/6 shot to make the cut with a decent wager is tempting.


The 88th Masters begins on Thursday at the Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia.

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