Ranking the Chasers for the 2024 Masters

Back-nine charges are part of what make the Masters great, but not every favorite is a scary chaser on Masters Sunday


When Tiger Woods chipped in for birdie from behind the 16th green on Sunday of the 2005 Masters, everyone on property knew who caused the roar. His impact on a crowd and ability to intimidate those around him was, and still remains, unmatched in modern professional golf. But at Augusta National, the ability still exists for chasers and Masters patrons to make the tournament leader’s hair stand on end. Every year, there are players who you do not want in your mirrors on Sunday afternoon.

As we look at the 2024 Masters field, we have a decent crop of talent at the top of the odds sheet that undoubtedly has the ability to win a green jacket. But how many have the power to send a message to the others in contention?

Two traits weigh heavily in this estimation. First, you have to have shown the ability to make strings of birdies with reckless abandon. We’re not talking rounds of 66 with six birdies throughout. We’re talking a 37-29 round where you completely blackout for 90 minutes. Second, you have to appeal to an Augusta National crowd. Will they get behind you for two hours and ride with your every shot? When your birdie is posted on scoreboards around the course, will those routine vibrations ripple back to the leader? In order to be an intimidating chaser at the Masters, you need to have both qualities.

So here’s an exercise: rank the players you don’t want to see chasing you down from the 2024 Masters field. I’ll go first and use the top 10 players on the odds sheet and remove any hypothetical of Tiger Woods entering the mix.

A definitive ranking of the chasers you don’t want to see in the rearview mirror at the 2024 Masters

No. 1 – Jon Rahm – Just being an elite talent isn’t enough to top this list. You gotta be a red ass. No one embodies that mentality better than the defending champion. I don’t think there is anyone in golf who can be as equally intimidating with their presence as they are with their play.

No. 2 – Jordan Spieth – Over the last three years, just six players have made more birdies or better at the Masters than Jordan Spieth. And that’s with Spieth’s missed cut in 2022. He may very well hit the trees off the tee on the 72nd hole, but until that happens, Jordan Spieth is liable to birdie every hole at Augusta National to chase down whomever is in the lead.

Courtesy of the Masters Tournament

No. 3 – Rory McIlroyOn our preview podcast with Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion mentioned that he believes Rory plays Augusta National too aggressively. While that may be true, aggressiveness is a skill that comes in handy when you need to make a lot of birdies in short order. I’d argue that a charging Rory McIlory would send the largest non-Tiger charge through the Augusta National crowd.

No. 4 – Brooks Koepka – You could argue that Brooks should be No. 1 on this list. He has more majors than everyone else, after all. But Brooks wins majors from out front. In all five of his major wins, he held the solo lead with nine holes to play. That’s not to say he isn’t intimidating or that he doesn’t know how to chase someone down, but if Brooks is in top form, he’s likely already out front.

No. 5 – Hideki Matsuyama – I don’t think a Hideki charge has the ability to send vibrations through a crowd like the top four guys on this list, but that has never stopped him from making birdies in bunches in the past. As we saw at the 2021 Masters and most recently again at the 2023 Genesis Invitational, a locked-in Hideki is borderline unstoppable.

No. 6 – Scottie Scheffler – Look, it’s admittedly sort of ridiculous to put Scottie this low. The guy is hands down the best player in the field right now. This ranking says more about the five players ahead of him. He’s going to be in the mix come Sunday, but if I was leading, there are other players I’d be more afraid could reel off five-straight birdies.

No. 7 – Wyndham Clark – Mr. Clark is the player I’m most eager to watch this week. And I have no idea what to expect. With a year of sustained play and a little bump coming off Full Swing, I think there is a real chance that he could be a crowd favorite at Augusta National. Maybe not so much at Bethpage Black, but this crowd will know who Wyndham is and would ride with him down the stretch.

Courtesy of The Masters Tournament

No. 8 – Ludvig Åberg – A true wild card. Ludvig has never played a major championship, so we have literally no idea what the reception to him will be like if he’s leading or near the lead. Golf diehards know he’s an elite talent, but has he permeated the casual fan interest enough to garner real support come Sunday of a major?

No. 9 – Joaquín Niemann – This would be a fascinating situation. Niemann is obviously playing some great golf this year, but I have no idea what the crowd support would be if he made a Sunday charge. I just don’t believe he’s going to play himself into a situation where we will find out.

No. 10 – Xander SchauffeleI’ve been hurt too many times by Xander to believe in a full-throttle comeback from him on Sunday at a major championship.

Other players I’d be afraid of: Cameron Smith, Will Zalatoris, Nick Taylor (might be No. 1)

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