The Players and Storylines to Watch at the 2024 Masters

Who (and what) our staff is tracking at Augusta National for the 2024 Masters


There are 51 weeks in the year, and then there’s Masters Week. We convened the crew for a whiparound preview newsletter to get you all ready for play.

Rory’s Grand Slam Chase

By Andy Johnson

“No question, he’ll do it at some point… It’s just a matter of when,” Tiger Woods, when asked on Tuesday about Rory’s Grand Slam quest.

As Rory heads to his 16th Masters, he’s trailed by many unanswered questions. He’s had a season of mixed results, leading to a recent visit with renowned swing coach Butch Harmon. Throughout his career we have seen McIlroy employ a few different tactics for handling the lead-up to the Masters. Through the entire week’s worth of pressers last year, Rory was open, reflective, and even long-winded at times. After missing the cut (his only finish outside the top 10 in any of the last eight majors), he’s changed it up again. This year has brought a more focused, business-like approach. McIlroy played two rounds last week at Augusta National, then returned on Tuesday morning in an attempt to replicate his regular Tour routine. “I guess just trying to bring a little bit of normalcy into what I sort of try to do week in, week out,” he remarked in his tidy 10-minute press conference on Tuesday.

Who knows how this strategy will pay off. For those looking for hope, McIlroy’s game might be peaking at just the right time. He logged his best performance on the PGA Tour last week with a stout iron performance, a skill required in spades at Augusta National. For those looking to doubt him, they might point to his sloppy play in the weeks leading up to San Antonio, or a run of poor form at the Masters, where he hasn’t truly had a shot to win since 2018.

Short of Tiger being in the mix, Rory contending at Augusta would yield the most compelling story the tournament has to offer. To do that, Rory needs to get out of the blocks early and limit scores of bogey or worse. His prodigious length and overall talent afford him more birdie opportunities than anyone in the field, but he’s too often tempted into decisions that lead to big numbers. Augusta National has a way of preying on the egos of the very best players, baiting them into taking on shots. If Rory can play a slightly more boring style of golf this year, he should be right there on Sunday with a shot at the Grand Slam.

Staving Off the Ceremonial

By Brendan Porath

There’s been a very Tiger-like rumor going around Augusta National this week that he shot 31 on a recent nine-hole practice visit. It’s straight out of our “worst-ball 66” dreams. We’ve been hearing stories like these for more than a decade now, as Tiger’s body has been broken, fused, wrecked, and bolted. If it were anyone else, the Ceremonial Golfer stamp would have come pounding down on his name on the tee sheet. Tiger is, of course, not anyone else. But he’s also far from the 2019 version of the competitive golfer who pulled it together to win that fifth green jacket.

Tiger has played one round this year. His stated plan of playing once per month in 2024 ended up more of a fantasy. Talking to the press on Tuesday, he seemed subdued and not overly confident or swaggy — acknowledging the continued pain in his back and knee, the lack of competitive golf prep, and the challenge of playing this hilly, cascading property. “Every shot that’s not on a tee box is a challenge,” he said. All this adds up to a grim view of his chances for a sixth jacket. We know he will have speed. We know he will hit the ball far. We know he knows how to play the course better than anyone, which is always an advantage. But can all that come together walking for four straight days when he doesn’t really do that anymore?

We also know that even with a decrepit body, he can post a score, make cuts, and even win. But Tiger contending this week might feel even more miraculous than the 2019 comeback. He’s here, though, because this tournament and the opportunity to play it means so much to him. The chance is enough. “If everything comes together,” he offered, “I think I can get one more.”

Which LIV Players Can Make Noise?

By Joseph LaMagna

At the 2023 Masters, three of the top-six finishers were active members of LIV Golf. Though preparation is an individual experience and sweeping generalizations can be a fool’s errand, last year proved that LIV golfers are still equipped to have success at the Masters. Three players who bring the most intrigue with them from Doral:

Jon Rahm – If there is a player whose form should never be doubted, it’s Jon Rahm. Jon entered the 2023 Masters as the third favorite behind Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy and left with the green jacket. He enters the 2024 Masters as the third favorite behind Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy. Sure, Rahm has more on his plate to juggle this year as defending champion, but I wouldn’t make a habit out of doubting Jon Rahm’s chances.

Brooks Koepka – Brooks Koepka has won five majors since the start of 2017. If there is a player who should never be doubted in major championships, it’s Brooks. He’s in rarefied air, and apparently he’s well aware of his standing in the history of professional golf. During his Tuesday presser, Brooks said “…there’s 19 other people in front of me, I do know that.” in reference to his major championship tally.

After each of his first three rounds in last year’s Masters, Brooks looked on pace to cruise to victory, before faltering on Sunday and giving away the lead to Jon Rahm. Any lingering effects from that loss didn’t seem to follow him for long, as he won the PGA a month later. With two runner-ups at Augusta to his name, would it really surprise anyone to see Koepka near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon?

Bryson DeChambeau – Across 12 competitive rounds since he labeled Augusta a par 67 in 2020, Bryson has yet to break DeChambeau par at the Masters. He’s also only broken the scorecard par in three of those rounds. DeChambeau is an extremely long driver of the golf ball. He’s also an erratic driver, often spraying tee shots well off line. Augusta National punishes wayward drives, a characteristic with which Bryson is familiar, as he’s found himself in tree trouble on holes like the 11th and the 13th. Coming off two consecutive missed cuts at Augusta, I’m eager to see if Bryson can register his first ever top-20 finish at the Masters.

The Inevitable Scottie Scheffler

By Shane Bacon

On the PGA Tour, 2024 has been all about Scottie Scheffler.

This dude’s consistency has broken the mold of what we expect in men’s golf. With his recent play and the way he’s seemed to figure out his short game, Scottie comes into this week the heaviest of heavy favorites, and for good reason.

But hot streaks need majors for weight. And while Scheffler has been impossibly close over the last couple of years, he’s still without a follow-up to his 2022 performance at Augusta National.

It seems like the stars are aligned. The guys he would in theory fear the most have fallen off, while his game has soared. He has actually somehow improved over the last four months. From where I’m sitting, it feels like green jacket number two isn’t just likely. It’s inevitable.

Two First-Timers Who Can Win

By Will Knights

For my money, this is the best class of first-time Masters players in recent memory. There was some depth last year (Ryan Fox, Adrian Meronk, Sahith Theegala, etc.), but this year has a pair of real contenders. Wyndham Clark and Ludvig Åberg are top-15 players in the world, regardless of the metric you use. Their ball-striking prowess over the last 12 months has made them immediate threats, and both set up well for Augusta National. Both are extremely long off the tee and will be able to reach the corners of doglegs — notably Nos. 2 and 13 — with less than driver when the conditions are right. I don’t expect either player or any other first timer (Højgaard, Bhatia, Eckroat, etc.) to win necessarily. But in 2021, Will Zalatoris showed that a Masters rookie can ball-strike his way into contention. Expect Clark and Åberg to do the same this week.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

By Will Knights

Two years ago, you couldn’t compile a list of the top-10 favorites before discussing Viktor Hovland, Justin Thomas, and Collin Morikawa. JT was one of the most consistent players in golf, while Morikawa and Hovland were two of the most talked about rising stars. Fast-forward to 2024 and hardly anyone is picking these three to contend. In fact, the trio has combined for a total of only three top-10 finishes in 2024, none of which have come in the last two months. Add in the chaos agent that is Jordan Spieth, and you have a full foursome of star names that no one knows what to do with. But as cliche as it sounds, it doesn’t really matter what your form is coming into the Masters. If you have the confidence and skill set, you can separate yourself from the pretenders at Augusta National. One of these guys will find their way into contention.

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For more coverage of the Masters, visit our site hub here.