Joe Quirk ’23
One of the world’s most famous and prestigious sporting events returns to Augusta National Golf Club in beautiful Augusta, GA this weekend.
Much of the talk surrounding the Masters right now is speculation about whether all-time great golfer Tiger Woods will be making his comeback to professional golf after a devastating car crash last year. While it would be great to see Woods play again, especially at Augusta National, where he has had so many great moments, more needs to be said about the rest of the incredibly talented field of golfers competing for the illustrious green jacket.
While anything can happen at the Masters, it would be incredibly wise to pick Justin Thomas as an early favorite to win.
Thomas, currently ranked No. 7 in the world, is a 28-year-old American golfer who has spent time ranked No. 1 globally before. The young phenom, who joined the PGA tour in 2015, has been an excellent and consistent golfer for most of his career.
While he does not have the drive power of a Bryson DeChambeau or the short game finesse of Woods, his consistent excellence across the course has helped him to fall no further than No. 8 worldwide since 2019, when he fell to No. 10. Most of that time, Thomas sat around No. 3 or No. 4 globally.
While in the past, a proper criticism for Thomas, especially going into a major as large as the Masters, would have been that he was too young or too inexperienced. Thomas has now been on the tour for seven years and has a major title to his name.
Many may call his only major championship win, the 2017 PGA Championship, a red flag. With the amount of time he has spent top 10 worldwide, along with seven years on the tour, one would expect him to have more major titles. But people forget, as recently as 2020, Thomas finished No. 4 at the Masters.
He has proven that he can win, unlike many other golfers, such as Rickie Fowler. A fan favorite and tremendous golfer himself, Fowler has been on the tour since 2009 and has yet to capture a major, despite coming in second for the Masters in 2018. Fowler failed to qualify for this year’s Masters, unlike Thomas who currently is tied with Cameron Smith for the second-best odds to win the whole thing.
Thomas is young, talented, and experienced. He is playing his best golf and has played well in this competition recently. If anyone is going to win at Augusta this year, bet on Thomas.
Justin Bishop ’24
The 2022 Masters tournament winner will be none other than Colin Morikawa.
As of Sunday, April 3, the current No. 3 ranked golfer in the world is poised to have a shot at the legendary green jacket. This year, Morikawa has had four top-20 finishes in seven starts this year, three of which were top-10 finishes including a runner-up finish at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles this past February.
Morikawa finished tied for No. 18 in last year’s tournament and was eight shots off the lead by the time the tournament wrapped up. He is No. 4 on the Professional Golfers Association’s Tour in average score, shooting an impressive 68.5 for each round of golf.
Other notable statistics for Morikawa include ranking top-10 in driving accuracy, greens in regulation, putts per hole, and birdies per round. For a player to rank in the top 10 in all these categories at the same time is nothing to overlook as most players can dominate in one or two categories, but to be dominant in all of them shows how well rounded his game is.
Morikawa is familiar with the biggest stages in golf, called the majors (The Masters, the U.S Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship), as he has won two of them, the British Open and the PGA Championship, only two years after turning pro. Morikawa’s rapid success made him a player that people come out to watch at only 25 years old, where the average age on tour is 35 and most never even win one major championship.
Morikawa also has a clutch factor about his game where he feeds off the fans’ energy.
He especially loves being in the final pairing on Sundays because that is the grouping where the crowd gathers the most. This year, there will be a huge crowd to make up for last year’s absence.
Morikawa has what it takes to win statistically and has won many times before on tour, along with having two of the four majors, and has set himself up down the road to win the career Grand Slam (winning each of the four majors at least once in one’s career).
Entering the tournament with the fourth best odds at +1600 to win, Colin Morikawa is poised to have Hidekei Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters winner, help him put on the coveted green jacket this Sunday in true Masters tradition.