REVEALED! Who will win The Masters golf tournament

Our Masters expert reveals who will be slipping into a Green Jacket at Augusta National this April.

Today’s Golfer’s 2023 Major coverage is brought to you in association with TaylorMade.

I’ve trawled through Augusta’s archives, listened to the experts, and picked apart hundreds of stats to narrow down the field and identify who will win the year’s opening Major.

The debate about who will slip on the Green Jacket is always one of the biggest Masters talking points as we count down the days to the honorary starters getting the tournament underway.

With the world’s top three players, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm, all showing fine form in 2023, the return of Tiger Woods, and the presence of LIV golfers in the field, the year’s opening Major has so many storylines.

What will happen when Tiger and his PGA Tour colleagues come face to face with LIV rebels Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and Patrick Reed at Schefflers’ Champions Dinner? And will any of the feuding stars be grouped together when the Masters tee times are announced?

But ultimately, all that will matter is who Scheffler is helping into the famous jacket come Sunday evening and whether you’ve backed the right man.

Let me help you decide who will win the Masters by sorting the wheat from the chaff using a few familiar tournament pointers.

Should we rule out Augusta National rookies?

16 players will make their Masters debuts in 2023, including seven amateurs, all seeking to become the first rookie in 44 years to win the tournament.

Perhaps only first-time watchers of the event aren’t aware that first-time players are up against it. The paradox is that because of TV coverage, there is perhaps no other venue in the entire sport that competitors know as intimately without ever having played it as this layout. And yet reality lies in wait, ready to trip up the fresh-faced new boys. The slopes are a little bit steeper, the greens a little bit faster, the entire experience makes them a little more light-headed than they expected.

The last man to win on debut? It’s golf’s easiest pub quiz question – Fuzzy Zoeller (pictured celebrating above) in 1979.

Can Scheffler win back-to-back Masters?

Ah, the difficulty of winning back-to-back. If a first Masters passes by in a blur, returning as defending champion holds its own difficulties. Because returning a Green Jacket to Augusta requires all kinds of supplementary hoopla, not least schmoozing with the greats of the game and feeding them a Champion’s Dinner – although Scheffler’s menu does look delicious.

Is it any surprise that only three men have won back-to-back? They are Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02). The first and last of that trio are the sport’s two greatest-ever players and the middle man was arguably the most singled-minded in history (he’s also alone in defending his first Green Jacket).

Intriguingly, no less than seven Masters first-time winners won again two years later, perhaps because the good vibes remained, but they were less distracted by all the formalities.

Does form matter at The Masters?

Yes. Finally, there is the question of quality and form. The last 10 winners were all ranked in the world’s top 25 heading up Magnolia Lane and eight of them had recorded a win in their previous half dozen official tour starts (the two exceptions had a runner-up finish in their last three and 12 appearances respectively so even they were in decent nick).

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Stats matter at Augusta

Common wisdom says driving doesn’t matter so much at Augusta. But if you’ve backed a player and he’s contending late on Sunday, how vital will the drives at 11, 13, 15 and 18 feel? Without good blows around Amen Corner and down the stretch, the opportunity to hunt birdies with bold and well-executed approach play won’t exist. Meanwhile, we all know that the short game needs to be sparkling all week.

Last year only four men ranked top 20 for all three of Strokes Gained Off the Tee, Approach and Around the Green: Scottie Scheffler (winner), Rory McIlroy (runner-up), Collin Morikawa (fifth) and Corey Conners (tied sixth).

In 2021 Hideki Matsuyama (winner), Xander Schauffele (tied third) and Jordan Spieth (tied third) did so. And so, from off the pace, did past Masters champion Phil Mickelson (T21st) … and future winner Scottie Scheffler (T18th).

Augusta experience

This is a peculiar one. I’ve established that having no course experience is bad – I’d recommend they read our in-depth Augusta course guide – but winners haven’t always leapt from the page in terms of past results. True, seven of the last 10 champions had an Augusta top-five finish in their back pocket, but two had a previous best in the top 25 and the odd one out had only a top 40.

Might this be the secret, however? Nine of the last 10 winners, including all three of those without a top five, had already broken par on Sunday. The exception was Jordan Spieth who had finished second in his only previous start.

Recent experience of contending in the Majors

When the action really hits sixth gear (“the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday”) it pays to have very fresh memories of a potentially career-changing experience.

Nine of the last 10 winners had been in contention for a Major Championship in the year before their Augusta success (either sitting tied fourth or better with 18 holes to play or finishing the week in the top eight). Perhaps the most vivid example of this was Danny Willett whose victory was notable for the manner with which he grasped his final round opportunity. He reacted to news that he had hit the top of the leaderboard in 2016 by knocking his next shot stiff at the 16th.

Why was he so ready? And why had he remained so patient before then? Eight months earlier he’d finished tied sixth at the Open, playing the final round with the eventual winner Zach Johnson and had said: “I can actually look back and see how he won it, what he did, what he didn’t do. Stuff like that I can learn from.” He didn’t waste the lesson.

The Dubai connection

Willett also triumphed at Augusta just a couple of months after claiming the Dubai Desert Classic and Sergio Garcia repeated that double 12 months later. When the Spaniard was asked if there was a connection he was dubious. “I don’t think so,” he said. “It’s coincidence.”

But was it? Ernie Els, a three-time winner in Dubai and two-time runner-up at Augusta, once said of the Emirates course: “It’s definitely a drawer’s golf course. It’s what my eye found back in the day. I could move it easily right-to-left and obviously, Augusta is very similar.”

Consider also that following their wins in the DDC Alvaro Quiros and Bryson DeChambeau shared the first-round lead, Haotong Li sat tied fourth after 18 holes and Paul Casey had been the first-round leader at the 2020 Masters in November shortly before winning in Dubai.

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This year’s Dubai winner? Rory Daniel McIlroy.

The LIV dimension

It’s not entirely unknown for Masters winners to have been lightly tested ahead of their victory. Adam Scott had played only four times prior to driving up Magnolia Lane in 2013 and Tiger Woods just the five in 2019.

But in the last 10 years the other eight winners had all played at least half a dozen times. What impact will this have on the 18 LIV players who are in the field?

Three-time top five Masters finisher Cameron Smith will have played just 11 competitive rounds since New Year ahead of trying to better last year’s near-miss.

Who will win The Masters?: Our picks

Rory McIlroy: Win at 15/2 with bet365

Contended in a Major last year? Yes, all four.

First or second in last 12 starts? Winner of the Dubai Desert Classic

Best finish at The Masters (and Sunday best)? Second last year (64)

Ranking for SG Off the Tee, Approach and Around the Green? 6th, 7th & 35th

Let’s not beat about the bush: the top three – Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy – have enormous claims, fitting the bill more or less perfectly and the bookmakers know it. We need to separate them, however.

Scheffler might be wonderfully straightforward but the difficulty of defending is significant. Rahm is less easy to shake off but recent woes off the tee are a concern.

In the end, McIlroy gets the vote because the changes to his equipment ahead of his run to the WGC-Dell Matchplay semi-final saw his driving back to its best. His approach work is in fine fettle, he’s happy with changes to his wedge, he’s got a putter that fills him with confidence, and he can ride the wave of that thrilling final round charge last year.

He’s also the reigning champion at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Jordan Spieth: Each-way at 18/1 with bet365

Contended in a Major last year? Not really but he was eighth at the Open

Win or second in last 12 starts? Not quite but third in the Valspar Championship

Best finish at The Masters (and Sunday best)? Winner in 2015 (64)

Ranking for SG Off the Tee, Approach and Around the Green? 84th, 41st & 16th

Once the field has been sorted by 2022 major challengers with a recent win the list is short. As we’ll see, there is an outsider among those names, but for a more solid each-way option some leniency is required.

Spieth hasn’t landed a recent top-two finish and his rankings don’t sparkle but he’s proved he can put everything together on this course. It fuels his creativity in all aspects of the game and it can do so again.

Shane Lowry: Each way at 50/1 with bet365

Contended in a Major last year? Third 12 months ago

Win or second in last 12 starts? Just about – winner of the BMW PGA at Wentworth

Best finish at The Masters (and Sunday best)? Third (69)

Ranking for SG Off the Tee, Approach and Around the Green? 26th, 23rd & 105th

Twelve months ago the Irishman spent the final 54 holes on the top page of the leaderboard. He excelled from the tee and also around the greens, only let down by his approaches. Tweak those and he can contend in yet another major.

Chris Kirk: Each way at 100/1 with PaddyPower

Contended in a Major last year? Fifth in the PGA Championship

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Win or second in last 12 starts? Winner of the Honda Classic

Best finish at The Masters (and Sunday best)? 20th (71)

Ranking for SG Off the Tee, Approach and Around the Green? 124th, 33rd & 26th

Really? Yes! The parameters are tough and yet Kirk stands tall (with the exception of the world rankings). A new addition to the wardrobe might be a tough ask but the American could give us a great ride and land a tasty place payout at three figures.

Can Tiger Woods win The Masters?

If there’s a chance of Tiger Woods adding to his 15 Majors then Augusta remains the most likely place for it to happen and he proved he’s more than capable with his incredible win in 2019.

He made the cut on his return from injury at The Masters last year but struggled across the weekend and clearly struggled with mobility due to his leg. However, he looked in far better health at The Genesis Invitational earlier this year, where he completed all four rounds and played some excellent golf. He’s also well-rested thanks to his limited schedule and few players in the field have more Augusta knowledge and experience than Tiger.

It would be a surprise if Woods was slipping on the Green Jacket for a sixth time come Sunday, but then the 47-year-old has spent a lot of time surprising us in recent years.

Who will win The Masters 2023? Betting odds

Selected other odds for the 2023 Masters Tournament. Read our guide to the full Masters field.

All odds from bet365.com and correct at 12.30pm BST on March 31.

Scottie Scheffler – 7/1 (Favorite)

Jon Rahm – 8-1

Patrick Cantlay – 20/1

Cameron Smith – 20/1

Justin Thomas – 20/1

Collin Morikawa – 22/1

Xander Schauffele – 22/1

Cameron Young – 25/1

Tony Finau – 28/1

Max Homa – 28/1

Dustin Johnson – 28/1

Viktor Hovland – 35/1

Matt Fitzpatrick – 40/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 45/1

Hideki Matsuyama – 45/1

Tiger Woods – 55/1

Tommy Fleetwood – 60/1

Brooks Koepka – 66/1

Patrick Reed – 70/1

Adam Scott – 70/1

Louis Oosthuizen – 80/1

Sahith Theegala – 80/1

Bryson DeChambeau – 90/1

Sergio Garcia – 90/1

Bubba Watson – 125/1

Thomas Pieters – 125/1

Ryan Fox – 140/1

Danny Willett – 140/1

Phil Mickelson – 200/1

Bernhard Langer – 1000/1

Fred Couples – 1500/1

Sandy Lyle – 2500/1

Larry Mize – 2500/1

READ MORE FROM THE MASTERS

– How you can play Augusta- With anonymity guaranteed, the caddies reveal all about Augusta- What does the Masters champion win?- Inside Augusta National’s clubhouse

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About the author

Matt CooperContributing Writer

Matt Cooper has been a golf journalist for 15 years. He’s worked for, among others, Golf365, SkySports, ESPN, NBC, Sporting Life, Open.com and the Guardian. He specializes in feature writing, reporting and tournament analysis.

He’s traveled widely in that time, covering golf from Kazakhstan to South Korea via Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

More straightforwardly, he’s also covered numerous Majors, Ryder Cups and Solheim Cups.

Follow Matt on Twitter.

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