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Who’s going to win the 2024 Masters? It’s a question people with even a passing interest in golf ask in the days and weeks running up to the Augusta showpiece.

Usually there are a couple of players it’s near impossible to see past.

This year, though, it feels different. There’s something of an Open Championship vibe ahead of the 88th Masters.

When I was piecing together my epic rankings of every player in the field – which you can read once you’re done here – I kept getting the overwhelming feeling that more players than ever can feasibly slip into that Green Jacket on Sunday.

And that’s a feeling shared by the number of patrons with whom I’ve sparked brief conversation during the first few days here at Augusta.

Surely – SURELY! – I say to them, Scottie Scheffler is winning this thing? But you’d be surprised. Yes, he comes in as the red-hot favourite having just won at Bay Hill and Sawgrass, and his tee-to-green stats are other-wordly. But the glimmer of hope for the rest of the field, and those desperate to not have another major “spoiled” by a runaway winner, is that he’s putting like any of three players you’ll be teeing up with at your roll-up on Saturday. (And, as a sweet footnote, Scheffler and wife Meredith are expecting their first child any day now, and he’s already said he’ll withdraw if she goes into labour during the tournament.)

If you fancy Jon Rahm, it’s worth noting only three players have successfully defended their Masters title. But while that particular nugget of history is not on his side, not many since the last man to do it – you know who – have had a legitimate chance of going back-to-back. And a lot will depend on just how well he readjusts to wearing trousers again while competing.

• Tiger Woods might disagree – but he’s more ceremonial than contender

• Jon Rahm struggles with regret as LIV fallout taints Masters defence

While we’re at this particular junction, let’s hop aboard the LIV train. Brooks Koepka should have won last year, and he got over his disappointment by adding a third PGA Championship and fifth major overall to his tally.

When asked in his pre-tournament press conference how important it is to on par with the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson, he replied: “During the moment it’s about going to play golf and do what I do.” He paused, then added: “But there are 19 other people in front of me, I do know that.”

Koepka is actually downplaying his achievement. There are 14 players with more major wins and five tied with him. And unless Sir Nick Faldo and Gary Player are planning on getting back in the winners’ circle, the only way is up for this generation’s finest major champion.

2024 Masters
Brooks Koepka will be looking to get revenge on now LIV colleague Jon Rahm. (Credit: Getty Images)

Cam Smith has an enviable Masters record and looking to become one of just a handful of players to win majors at Augusta and St Andrews – but he’ll need to shake off a recent bout of food poisoning – while Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson are three players you don’t rule out here regardless of form.

OK, hop off. Shall we talk about Rory McIlroy? The Northern Irishman, who is gearing up for a 16th attempt at adding the prize he craves more than any to his mantelpiece and tenth attempt at completing the Grand Slam, has once again tried a new approach. He’s tried not playing, he’s tried playing a few, and now he’s tried playing loads – including the week before for the first time in many years.

He also seems to have adopted an attitude akin to a teenager who had just been asked to tidy his room. He showed up on Tuesday afternoon, the last player by at least 24 hours, ended his press conference after just eight questions in as many minutes, and is apparently quite happy just cutting about hitting a few balls before he gets underway alongside Scheffler and Xander Schauffele on Thursday.

Ah, yes, Schauffele. The major machine. Imagine how many he would have by now if he didn’t close like a revolving door? But you have to have him in the mix, because one day he might just work it out.

And then there’s the man that snatched the Green Jacket from him in 2021 – Hideki Matsuyama – one of only three players to have finished in the top 25 here in each of the past four renewals.

The others? Scheffler and Shane Lowry. If the Irishman can get his flatstick to behave on these slick Augusta greens, he is absolutely another who’s going close here.

• Ranking the Masters field from 89 to 1

• 24 hours in search of the real Rory McIlroy

How are we this many words in without mentioning Jordan Spieth, a man who inexplicably only has one Green Jacket? Or his good pal Justin Thomas, one of those players you have to double check to make sure he’s not already a Masters champion? Or Will Zalatoris, whose major championship section on Wikipedia is a sea of yellow.

Wyndham Clark! Collin Morikawa! Viktor Hovland! Patrick Cantlay! Ludvig Aberg! Be honest, would you be surprised to see any of these atop the leaderboard as the sun sets on another Masters on Sunday night? Or Rickie Fowler? Or Justin Rose? Or Cam Young? Or Tony Finau? Or Matt Fitzpatrick?

This is exhausting. So kick back and enjoy, friends. This has the potential to be a Masters for the ages.

Hang on, I’ve forgotten Tiger Woods. Oh, you’ve gone…

Hear more of our thoughts in our Masters daily commute episodes of The bunkered Podcast from Augusta.

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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