Golf Glance: Scottie Scheffler chasing major history in Masters defense

Adam Cairns-Augusta Chronicle/USA TODAY Sports

Field Level Media’s Golf Glance provides weekly news and storylines from each of the major North American golf tours.

LAST TOURNAMENT: Valero Texas Open (Corey Conners)
THIS WEEK: Masters Tournament, Augusta, Ga., April 6-9
Course: Augusta National Golf Club (Par 72, 7,545 yards)
Purse: $TBA (Winner: TBA)
Defending Champion: Scottie Scheffler
FedEx Cup leader: Jon Rahm
TV: Thursday-Friday, 3-7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN); Saturday, 3-7 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, 2-7 p.m. (CBS)
Twitter: @TheMasters
NOTES: Scheffler claimed his first major title with a three-stroke victory over Rory McIlroy last year. He is trying to join Jack Nicklaus (1966), Nick Faldo (1990) and Tiger Woods (2002) as the only players to successfully defend a Masters title. Scheffler is 1-for-3 in title defenses this season, winning at the Phoenix Open in February. He is also trying to join Woods (2001) as the only players to win the Players Championship and the Masters in the same year. … McIlroy, who won his most recent major title in 2015, will make another attempt to become the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam. … Woods will make only his second start of the season as he seeks to tie Nicklaus’ record of six green jackets. With a win, he would also break a tie with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour victories of all-time with 83. Has made 22 consecutive cuts at the Masters — one shy of the all-time record held by Fred Couples (1983-2007) and Gary Player (1959-1982). … Patrick Cantlay and Max Homa are the only players with at least six wins over the past five seasons who have not won a major in their career. Cantlay has seven wins in that span, while Homa has six. … Sam Burns, who won the WGC-Match Play event two weeks ago, is attempting to become the first player to win consecutive starts since Scheffler won the Match Play and Masters last year. So, too, is Conners, who enters with three consecutive top-10 Masters finishes. … There are 18 LIV Golf players in the field, headlined by former No. 2-ranked player and reigning Open champion Cam Smith, who tied for third last year. … Five PGA Tour players will be making their Masters debuts: Tom Kim, Kurt Kitayama, Taylor Moore, Adam Svensson and Sahith Theegala. All but Theegala have earned a win on tour this season. The most recent player to win his Masters debut was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. The other two are Gene Sarazen in 1935 and Horton Smith in 1934.
BEST BETS: Scheffler (+700 at BetMGM) already has a pair of wins this year and reached the semifinals of the Match Play in his most recent start. … McIlroy (+700) placed second last year and finished 2022 as the only player to record a top-10 finish in all four majors. … Rahm (+900) already has three wins this season. He also has four top-10s in six previous Masters starts and has never finished lower than T27. … Jordan Spieth (+1800) was the 2015 champion. He has a lone top-15 finish in his past four Masters starts, but still owns the lowest career scoring average at Augusta in the field at 70.71 (Woods is second at 71.05). He doesn’t have a win but does have three top-10s on the season. … Cantlay (+1800), the highest-ranked player in the field without a major title at No. 4, did earn low-amateur honors with a T47 in 2012. … Smith (+2000) has scuffled a bit to begin 2023 but said he feels “comfy” at Augusta National, where last year’s T3 is among four top-10s in his past five trips. … Justin Thomas (+2000) has posted top-25 finishes in each of the past six Masters, with a high of fourth in 2020. … Collin Morikawa (+2200) posted his best Masters finish with a fifth last year. He has three top-10s this season, including a runner-up at the Tournament of Champions. … Dustin Johnson (+2500) won the delayed 2021 Masters played in November, so he should be very comfortable with the softer conditions expected this week. He finished seventh in last week’s LIV Golf event in Orlando. … Jason Day (+2500) already has six top-10s this season, tying his most in a season since 2015-16, including five in his past six starts. Day, who finished second at the Masters in his debut in 2011, failed to qualify last year.
NEXT TOURNAMENT: RBC Heritage, Hilton Head Island, S.C., April 13-16

LAST TOURNAMENT: DIO Implant LA Open (Ruoning Yin)
NEXT TOURNAMENT: Lotte Championship, Ewa Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, April 12-15

Champions Tour
LAST TOURNAMENT: The Galleri Classic (David Toms)
NEXT TOURNAMENT: Invited Celebrity Classic, Irving, Texas, April 21-23

–Field Level Media

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