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Only three players have ever successfully defended their Masters crown. 

Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Sir Nick Faldo are the legendary triumvirate who have managed to claim back-t0-back Green Jackets at Augusta National.

Faldo – the winner in 1989, 1990 and 1996 – hopes that exclusive club will not have a new member as Jon Rahm plots his own title defence in Georgia this week.

“I wish him all the best but I hope the club stays at three!” the six-time major champion quipped on the Sky Sports Golf Podcast.

• Scottie Scheffler: Any time you’re mentioned alongside Jack and Tiger is special

• Jon Rahm calls for big change to LIV Golf

Rahm leads a contingent of 13 LIV Golf players at the Masters, fresh from a T4 finish on the Saudi-backed circuit’s most recent stop in Miami.

The Spaniard is yet to win a LIV event since making the lucrative switch from the PGA Tour in December, but hasn’t finished worse than eighth in his first five starts.

However in the build-up to last year’s Masters, Rahm won three events on the PGA Tour – The Sentry, The American Express and Genesis Invitational – and Faldo believes he could lack the “right intensity” for the first major of the season.

“I know that he made comments about watching Riviera and thought he wished he was there,” Faldo said, referring to Rahm missing February’s defence of the Genesis in LA.

Greg Norman calls LIV golfer ‘best iron player in 20 years’

• Tiger Woods goes with veteran caddie at The Masters

“I thought The Players was good, that was exciting and I bet he wished he was in there. He has been playing resort courses in his shorts for the last couple of months and hasn’t really been tested yet.

“He’s a hell of a player, but he’s going to have to make a little bit more effort to step it up and get the right intensity.

“Whether coming to defend you can do it, or whether he’s just not quite sharp enough because he hasn’t tested himself quite as much, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Rahm is hoping to have his caddie Adam Hayes back on the bag for his Augusta tilt this week after illness forced the American to sit out the tournament at Trump Doral.

“Obviously I feel bad for Adam,” Rahm said. “Hopefully he gets better soon, which he will. It takes a lot for him not to caddie. Let’s just say that.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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