Who will win the US Masters?
Who will win the 2022 PGA Championship, golf tips

Who will win the US Masters?

The 2023 US Masters is not far away, with players due to tee off at Augusta National on April 6.

The first of golf’s four majors is set to be more competitive than ever, with allegiances split between the US-based PGA Tour and the new Saudi-funded LIV Tour.

We have analysed every renewal of this tournament since 2000 to help predict who will win the US Masters and emerge as the next champion.

Major pedigree matters

Experience of contending for major championships has generally helped players navigate Augusta’s notorious back nine on Masters Sunday, with 17 of the 23 champions since the turn of the century having either won or finished as runner-up in a major before.

As a result, it is very rare for a young player to receive a coveted green jacket.

By winning as a 21-year-old in 2015, Jordan Spieth joined Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus as the only players in Masters history to triumph before turning 25.

Who plays well at Augusta?

Against the backdrop of a split in the men’s game, the Masters brings an air of familiarity as the only one of the four majors to be hosted at the same venue every year.

A good record at Augusta is therefore imperative – all but two winners since 2000 had a previous top 10 to their name.

That said, with 10 different champions in the last 10 Masters and Bubba Watson the only repeat winner since 2006, any one of a number of players could win.

Reigning Open champion Cameron Smith has finished in the top 10 on four of his five appearances, while the talented Korean Sungjae Im has twice challenged in three visits.

Despite amassing seven top 10s at Augusta – including a runner-up finish last year – Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is still looking for his first win on his 15th start.

Recent winners have shown the value of persistence, however, with four of the past six and five of the past 10 victors having gone at least nine visits without a win.

Where could the Masters be won and lost?

A solid start is critical for any potential champion, with 12 of the last 15 winners having shot 69 (three under par) or better in the first round.

Five-time winner Woods is the only man this century to don a green jacket having been over par after round one.

He opened with a round of 74 in 2005, before bouncing back with scores of 66 and 65 on days two and three and eventually winning the tournament on a play-off.

This year’s champion will also need to excel on Augusta’s four par fives. The second, eighth, 13th and 15th holes were all birdied or eagled by at least 25 per cent of the field in 2022.

Meanwhile, Augusta’s back nine provides a unique spectacle, with four potential birdie holes from 13 to 16 bookended by the famously difficult Amen Corner (10 to 12) and the nerve-jangling 17th and 18th.

The 16th offers the chance of a rarely spotted hole-in-one, with 20 in Masters history compared with 10 in total at the other three par threes.

In fact, there has been an ace at the 16th in six of the past seven years, with the traditional day-four pin position offering a tantalising slope down to the hole.

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