The 2022 Masters tee-off

The Masters golf tournament, widely regarded as the most prestigious tournament in professional golf, began in 1934 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Today, it is every golfer’s dream to put on the coveted “Green Jacket.” Between celebrated traditions and the hallowed history of past champions such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods, the Masters is known as one of the most prominent sporting events of the year. 

While every year of the Masters is special, this year is the 86th edition and is significant for multiple reasons. This is the first year since 2019 that the Masters will have full capacity spectators, and golf fans are certain to make up for lost time with extra enthusiasm. 

Also, in news recently released before the tournament, Tiger Woods will be making his highly anticipated return 14 months after he was severely injured in a car crash, almost losing his right leg. Golf fans are glad to see that Tiger is back healthy, especially since there was uncertainty he would ever play professional golf again. 

“Tiger Woods being back is certainly bringing a ton of attention to the Masters,” said junior Matthew Young. “For me, I’m just glad to see Tiger has recovered from the accident and is healthy enough to play.”

However, not all golf fans are not confident in Woods’s chances, which is no shock considering the circumstances surrounding his return.

“Tiger winning the Masters this year would be one of the biggest comeback stories in sports,” said junior Parker Stanton. “However, with his severe injury and not playing for 14 months, I just don’t see that happening this year.”

Winning the Masters is widely regarded as the pinnacle for golfers on the professional PGA tour, and in 2022, there will be a total of 90 golfers vying for the honor of winning the tournament and putting on the famous Green Jacket. However, some golfers have separated themselves from the pack as favorites.

Most golf experts consider the 28-year-old American, Justin Thomas, as one of the top favorites to win the Masters. Not only does his playing style fit the Masters very well, his excellence in driving the ball and his skill in approaching the green fit perfectly with the Augusta National Course. Thomas has had five straight top-25 finishes at the Masters, including a 4th place finish in the 2020 Masters, and will be looking to build on that consistency to take home the title this year.

 Another favorite is 25-year-old American golfer Scottie Scheffler. While Scheffler is young and inexperienced and has never won a PGA major before, he recently became the new No. 1 golfer in the world with a red-hot start to 2022. He has won three of his last five tournaments, including the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Phoenix Open. 

Jon Rahm, the 27-year-old Spaniard, is also a favorite pick by the experts to win this year. He has had four straight top-eight finishes at the Masters and is coming off a win at the 2021 U.S. Open. Rahm is also the 3rd ranked golfer in the world and has a great chance to win his first Masters. His victory would break a trend of American domination of the Masters, as about three-quarters of the champions at the Masters have been American golfers. 

While one of those three will be many people’s pick to win, there are also many dark-horse contenders. 

“I think the winner will be unexpected,” said sophomore Brooks Beach. “It will be someone who people don’t see coming and isn’t a top name.”

That unexpected winner might be underdog American golfer Patrick Cantlay. While he finished low in the 2021 edition of the Masters, he started the 2022 golf season strong with four straight top-10 finishes. He is also familiar with this type of competition as he led the 2019 Masters for a few holes on the final day before losing out to Woods. 

Other dark-horse contenders include golfers that have won the Masters before but aren’t favored to win this year, like 2021 champion Hideki Matsuyama, 2020 champion Dustin Johnson, and 2018 champion Patrick Reed. 

While it is hard to count out a player with experience winning the Masters, many golf experts say it is very uncommon for a professional golfer to take home back-to-back titles. Only three golfers have ever won consecutive years at the Masters, so it would be historic if Matsyuma was able to defend his title.

There are also some golfers playing in this year’s Masters who might not be favored to win but are fan favorites, like 25-year-old American Will Zalatoris. 

“My favorite golfer is Will Zalatoris,” said Young. “We have similar swings, and he also went to Wake Forest, my favorite college. I don’t think he is going to win this year though.” 

Zalatoris did come pretty close to winning the Masters last year with a 2nd place finish, so he may have a chance to get over the line this year. English golfer Tommy Fleetwood is also a fan favorite, though he didn’t play as well last year at the Masters, with a 46th place finish.

“Tommy Fleetwood is definitely my favorite golfer at the Masters this year,” said junior Gavin McNulty. “I like his playing style a lot, and his hair is also pretty cool.” 

With the fascinating storylines surrounding this year’s Masters, including Woods’s return and many underdog fan favorites, this year’s tournament is sure to be an exciting four days.