Masters ’23: Return of Tiger, hope for Rory and a lot of LIV

Tiger Woods is back at the Masters. It’s not as surprising as it was a year ago, but it does come up infrequently. He limped spectacularly through his 72 holes at Augusta National.

For Rory McIlroy, this might be his best chance to finally get that green jacket and complete his career grand slam. He’s playing the best golf. His popularity is stronger than ever, becoming a powerful voice to reshape the PGA Tour.

That alone should be enough to raise hopes for the Masters, not that we need a lot of help. has changed.

Woods, McIlroy and Schaeffler are headliners who share the stage in an otherwise graceful game-consuming and splitting story. Face the missing 18 players.

“For golf fans, Tiger is coming. There will be a LIV-PGA Tour mashup in the traditional setting of the Masters. It will be a media frenzy,” said Xander Schauffele. “There will be a lot of questions about the bargains here and there between the two tours.

Conversation under the giant oak tree outside the Augusta National clubhouse will be about extending the par-5 13th hole or the latest antitrust lawsuit filed between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. about the allegations of

And who wouldn’t pay for the annual Masters Club dinner for past champions on Tuesday nights upstairs in the Clubhouse? As defending his champion, Schaeffler is in charge of the menu rather than keeping the peace.

Jordan Spieth laughs, “I’m trying to get Scotty to talk to the elephant in the room, but I don’t think he’s going to.” It’s your job to talk to the elephant in the room.It’s not just a thank you.” I don’t think he’s chewing.He doesn’t chew a lot of what I have to say.

Indeed, this could be a Masters like no other.

Dustin Johnson was thought to be reluctant to move to LIV Golf due to concerns that he would not be able to return to the record-scoring Augusta National in 2020. Be in the $150 million range.

And concerns about play for Johnson and everyone else were put to rest in December when Masters chairman Fred Ridley said the invitation list wouldn’t change regardless of where players make their living. Yes. At least not this year.

Ridley also revealed that he has not been happy with the state of golf since the emergence of rival leagues run by Greg Norman, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. Mentioned nine Masters champions who became heroes of Clearly missing from his list was former golf favorite and his three-time champion Phil Mickelson.

“They honored their predecessors and paved the way for future generations. Golf is better because of them,” said Ridley. “Unfortunately, recent actions have divided professional men’s golf and undermined the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacy of those who built it.”

Most PGA Tour players haven’t seen the likes of Johnson, Mickelson and Brooks Koepka since the Open Championship. Cameron Smith won the Claret Jug and joined the LIV six weeks later.

“Inside the ropes, even with people brawling, it’s just a working environment,” Schauffele said. “It’s great to have everyone back in the same office.”

Who knows what to expect. Most of his LIV players have made only nine appearances in his 54-hole event with a 48-man field since St Andrews.

Their world rankings are plummeting as LIV have yet to score a point. Johnson was ranked 16th in the world when he left St Andrews. Currently he is in his 68th position. Koepka dropped out of the top 100 world rankings for the first time in 10 years (111th).

“Just because they’re unranked, they’re still top-ranked players, and we pros know that.” Some left when they were hot, some left a little cold in terms of performance, but we all know how good they are.

Another question leading up to the 87th Masters Tournament, which starts on April 6th, is how well Woods will play. He’s still the biggest draw, especially now, because no one knows when we’ll see him again. Woods can hit every shot. His problem is one of golf’s toughest walks he takes four days to get to the next course.

Woods, who had a limp in his right leg after a car accident in February 2021, qualified for the Masters and the PGA Championship last year (he withdrew after three rounds). He made the cut at the Riviera, posting his 67 on Saturday in his only start of 2023.

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he put us on the edge of our seats in the first few days,” said Curtis Strange, a two-time U.S. Open champion now an analyst for ESPN. But can he keep it up? I think Los Angeles has raised hopes for the Masters because he still has something in that body.”

McIlroy apparently wore two hats last year. He spoke out against rival Saudi Arabia last fall in his league, while spearheading changes to his PGA Tour structure with big prize money and small field revamps to reward the best players. I’m back at No. 1 in the world.

He’s also been at the forefront of acrimony, criticizing Norman on numerous occasions and refusing to acknowledge Patrick Reed, who was at a training ground in Dubai in January.

Perhaps that will be enough to ease the pressure of winning the majors that have eluded him. Sergio Garcia (19) and Mark He O’Meara (15) are the only two of him to have played more than 15 times before winning the Masters. This will be McIlroy’s 15th appearance.

“I don’t think it really takes a lot of practice,” said McIlroy, whose final event was third in match play. “I think my game is in very good shape. So keep it up and Augusta work on the shots he needs for the National.”

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