Rory McIlroy’s Latest Grand Slam Try, LIV Golfers Contending For A Green Jacket Among The Top Storylines At The Masters

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The 2023 Masters is upon us, the greatest four-day stretch golf has to offer has arrived, and as per usual, there are several intriguing storylines to follow heading into the year’s first major championship.

Some of the biggest storylines for this 87th playing of The Masters are the same as years prior, but while this year’s tournament has similarities to years past, it’s also incredibly unique with 18 LIV golfers in the field.

There’s also a man by the name of Tiger Woods teeing it up this week, but what are realistic expectations for him this week? Scottie Scheffler is looking to win his second green jacket, while Rory McIlroy is hunting for his first. There are three clear favorites in the field, but what about the group of others behind them?

2023 Masters Storylines To Pay Attention To

1. Rory McIlroy’s Best Shot At Winning A Green Jacket?

Ninth time’s the charm? Rory McIlroy is sure hoping so.

In six of his previous eight attempts at completing the career Grand Slam with a win at Augusta National, McIlroy has finished inside the Top 10 five times, including a solo-second place finish a year ago.

He has been close, and it’s felt like ‘Rory’s year’ multiple times over the last eight years, but this time around has a different feel to it for one reason and one reason alone: he’s entering the week playing great golf.

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Could this finally be Rory McIlroy’s week to win the Masters? (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

While McIlroy missed the cut at The Players a month ago, his four other starts in 2023 have provided golf fans real hope that he could peak at the right time, on Sunday afternoon at Augusta. McIlroy tied for second at the Arnold Palmer three starts ago and finished third in the WGC Match Play just two weeks ago.

The fact that McIlroy hasn’t found the winner’s circle in 2023 may actually help him this week.

If McIlroy had won one of the five events he’s played in this year, picking up a second win in six starts, at the Masters of all places, would be an incredibly rare feat. It may sound elementary, but mathematically and even emotionally, his lack of a win may play in his favor.

It could be a rain-filled week (more on that later) as well which plays to the advantage of McIlroy’s length. The softer the course is, the better McIlroy’s chances fair.

2. Could A LIV Golfer Actually Win?

While several LIV golfers have said that the media is responsible for creating this rift between the Saudi-backed circuit and the PGA Tour, LIV players being on property is undoubtedly among the biggest storyline this week.

This week’s Masters is the first major championship that will feature LIV golfers before the three majors will welcome those qualified later this year.


The drama that may or may not come with 18 LIV players being on the property will be a storyline beaten to death until the final putt drops on Sunday, but how these 18 players actually perform is the most intriguing aspect.

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Brooks Koepka enters Masters week fresh off of a LIV Golf win in Orlando last week. (Photo by Luke Walker/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images)

Of the 18 LIV players in the field, Dustin Johnson, Cam Smith, Patrick Reed, and Brooks Koepka appear to be the only ones with a realistic chance of contending on Sunday.


Those four players have two green jackets and a total of eight major championships between them. They know how to win on the biggest of stages, but given they’ve been removed from the game’s biggest stages for quite some time now it’ll be interesting to see how they perform in the biggest event they’ve played in since The Open in July of last year.

3. Tiger Woods…That’s It, That’s The Story

Tiger Woods will play golf at Augusta National this week. Whether he plays two rounds or four rounds, we’ll have to wait and see, but Woods playing competitive golf is and always will be a Top 3 story every time he tees it up.

Given that he’s played in just one tournament in 2023, and just two since July 2022, nobody knows what to expect out of the big cat this week. He showed serious flashes as he surprisingly made the cut at The Genesis Invitational back in February, but how his body holds up on the toughest walk in all of golf will be a test he hasn’t faced since playing in last year’s Masters.

The Masters will be Tiger Woods’ second start of 2023. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

As for realistic expectations, there shouldn’t really be any at all. Just as I wrote ahead of his start at The Genesis, the only real expectation for Woods is for him to put a tee in the ground and play at least 36 holes.


It’s impossible not to romanticize the occasion of Woods playing golf these days, and that’s all the story should be. Unless of course he finds himself in contention heading into the weekend, then those expectations change mightily.

4. The ‘Other Guys’ Flying Under The Radar

Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy are the clear-cut favorites both on paper and in the sportsbooks, but there are 85 other players in the field this week that could put on a green jacket on Sunday afternoon.

Jordan Spieth – Spieth has one green jacket, but should have a closet full. He’s played in 10 Masters, has missed the cut just once (2022) and has four Top Five finishes in that stretch.

Justin Thomas – Nobody seems to be talking about JT heading into this week which seems like a bold strategy. While he hasn’t put the pieces together this season, we’re still talking about a two-time major champion who has a game that should fit Augusta in every way.

Tony Finau – All Finau has done in his five Masters starts is pick up three Top 10 finishes. This has always felt like the major Finau could, and maybe even should win. Why not this week? He’s flying under the radar just like Thomas.

Patrick Cantlay – Speaking of a guy that you can imagine wearing a green jacket. Cantlay is a proven winner and ranks sixth in strokes gained: total, second in tee-to-green, and fifth in greens in regulation. Those numbers scream ‘contender at Augusta.’

Max Homa – Homa has looked like a stone-cold killer at times with his six wins on Tour, but his track record in major championships has been flat-out horrid. He’s played in 13 majors and has missed the cut in eight of those starts. His bad fortune at majors can’t possibly last forever.

Viktor Hovland – Short game, short game, short game. You may hear about Hovland’s lack of ability around the greens more than Tiger Woods’ name this week, but if he manages to get up and down just a bit more often than average there’s no reason he won’t be there come the weekend. He’s finished T-27 and T-21 in his two Masters starts as a professional.

Will Zalatoris – It’s unclear where his body is at health-wise after pulling out of the WGC Match Play two weeks ago, but if you’re going to gamble on a guy to surprise at Augusta, Zalatoris may be the guy. He finished solo-second in his Masters debut in 2021 and followed that up with a T-6 finish a year ago.

No player may be flying more under the radar entering the Masters than Justin Thomas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

5. Rain, Rain Go Away

The weather forecast looks horrendous heading into Thursday’s first round. While we may get a full day of golf in Thursday, that may not be the case Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Here’s a look at the forecast in Augusta as of noon on Tuesday:

The weather forecast for the Masters is less than ideal (weather dot com)

Nobody likes a Monday finish at Augusta, but it’s looking like that’s exactly what we’re headed toward this week.

6. A Longer, Harder 13th Hole

Augusta National is constantly making changes to the golf course, but the lengthening of the 13th hole by 35 yards is the most drastic change in quite some time.

The Par 5 13th is always a pivotal hole throughout tournament week, but this year it may be putting an extra wedge in players’ hands as a huge chunk of the field will decide to lay up instead of going for the green in two.

Some of the longer players in the field will still get to a number they’re comfortable with in going for the green, but that decision could make or break their entire week. The risk-reward is still there, but the story will be just how many risks are taken on the now legitimate Par 5.

Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris

Written by Mark Harris

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