2022 Masters storylines to keep an eye on

bryson dechambeau, Danny Willett, Golf, Greg Norman, Hideki Matsuyama, jay monahan, Jon Rahm, jordan spieth, justin rose, Larry Mize, Nick Faldo, Patrick Cantlay, Phil Mickelson, rory mcilroy, Sam Burns, sergio garcia, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele, Zach Johnson

The 2022 Masters is upon us. And, of course, there is plenty of intrigue when it comes to who’s in or who’s out of the field. Not to mention, who to watch and why. Plus, any course changes at Augusta National.

As we get ready for the first ball to be struck off the tee, here are 18 storylines to follow for this year’s Masters.

 

1 of 18

The more the merrier

The more the merrier

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

The coronavirus pandemic is still upon us, but the Masters goes on with the look of pre-COVID times. Limited spectators returned in 2021, and it appears even more folks will be on hand to watch in person this year. Just how many more? We’ll, Augusta National doesn’t usually offer attendance figures, but grandstand seating appears to be on the bill for 2022, which means more fans will be allowed in and without any limitations when it comes to COVID mitigation efforts. 

 

2 of 18

Three cheers — again

Three cheers — again

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Along with those expected larger galleries, tradition is back at Augusta for the 2022 Masters. For the COVID-19-delayed event in 2020 and last year’s tournament, the beloved Par-3 Contest was not held. Well, it will return for 2022, and on its usual Wednesday before the first round. Fantastic shots, special family moments, and the roar of an animated, but respectful, crowd, have all made this one of the great experiences in professional golf. Welcome back!

 

3 of 18

Minor adjustments

Minor adjustments

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Fans and the Par-3 Contest will again be part of Masters week. But, is there anything new when it comes to the actual Augusta National track? Glad you — or we — asked. On hole No. 11 the tee box is moved back 15 yards and 20 yards further on No. 15. Meanwhile, the 18th fee was pushed back 13 yards. Speaking of No. 11, several fairway trees have been removed. And back to 18, where a left-side fairway bunker should come into play more often than not with the tee sent back.

 

4 of 18

On the Tiger hunt

On the Tiger hunt

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5 of 18

Lefty leaves self out

Lefty leaves self out

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

One modern-day golf legend we know won’t be at Augusta in 2022, is Phil Mickelson. While the 51-year-old, three-time Masters winner likely wouldn’t be a serious contender for the green jacket, his absence from the event for the first time since 1994 will be one of golf’s biggest stories of the entire year. Of course, Mickelson appears to have brought the decision on himself. Earlier in 2022, he made some controversial remarks about a professional, Saudi Arabian-backed golf league that could rival the PGA Tour. Mickelson also managed to criticize Tour president Jay Monahan in the process.

 

6 of 18

Looking to repeat

Looking to repeat

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7 of 18

International flavor

International flavor

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Should Matsuyama find a way to post back-to-back Masters wins, he would become the first international golfer to repeat at Augusta since Englishman Nick Faldo won the 1989 and ’90 tournaments. While it’s been some time since a non-American repeated as Masters champions, it wasn’t too long ago that international talent won at Augusta in consecutive years. After England’s Danny Willett won there in 2016, famed Spaniard Sergio Garcia finally got the major monkey off his back by winning the 2017 event.

 

8 of 18

How low can they go?

How low can they go?

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Whether an international golfer or American claims this year’s green jacket, it will be interesting to see if the champ will once again, truly, get the best of Augusta National. Matsuyama’s 10-under-par 278 marked the fourth consecutive tournament that the Masters’ winner finished with a double-digit, under-par total. The last time that happened in five straight Masters spanned 1974-’78. Only once since 1957 has the Masters champion finished over par, that was Zach Johnson (1 over) in 2007.

 

9 of 18

Odds in Rahm’s favor

Odds in Rahm's favor

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of talented Spanish golfers, Jon Rahm is no longer the No. 1 golfer in the world (more on that in a bit). But, he’s still the betting favorite when it comes to wagering on the 2022 Masters field. Rahm, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, who is looking for his first Masters win, currently sits at +800 on the tournament lines, according to DraftKings. Keep in mind, odds were current at the time of publication and subject to change.

 

10 of 18

Sensational Scottie

Sensational Scottie

Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY Sports

So, if Jon Rahm no longer sits atop the World Golf Ranking (for the week of March 28), then who is it? That would be Scottie Scheffler, who won for the third time in five starts after outlasting the field in the WGC Match Play event on March 27. Scheffler, who betters can get at a solid +1200, has played remarkable golf on the young season, making 11 of his first 12 cuts with his first three career wins, a second, and six overall top-10 finishes. Though he’s finished tied for 19 and 18th in each of the last two Masters, respectively, Scheffler is certainly the guy to watch at Augusta.

 

11 of 18

Is this Rory’s year?

Is this Rory's year?

Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports

A victory at the Masters is the only thing standing in the way of Rory McIlroy recording a career major grand slam. McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open and the Open Championship in 2014, the same year he claimed his second PGA Championship. Now, Rory’s best finish at Augusta is a fourth in 2015 and last season he missed the cut at the Masters for just the second time in 13 starts there. Prior to 2021, McIlroy finished inside the top 10 six of the previous seven seasons.

 

12 of 18

Bloom off the Rose

Bloom off the Rose

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When it comes to being competitive on the Augusta National track, England’s Justin Rose is your man. The 2013 U.S. Open champion, Rose finished second at the Masters in 2015 and tied for second two years later. At the 2021 tournament, Rose led by 4 shots following the first round and a stroke after 36 holes. Then Hideki Matsuyama made his move and a Sunday 74 dropped Rose into a seventh-place finish. If there’s one thing to possibly take to the bank, it’s Rose being in contention at some point during this Masters week.

 

13 of 18

First time is the hardest

First time is the hardest

Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports

We know the aforementioned Hideki Matsuyama finally captured that elusive first major championship at the Masters last season. So, will we see another marquee name become a first-time major winner at Augusta in 2021? It’s certainly possible. Reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Patrick Cantlay is the first name that comes to mind, but he missed the cut at Augusta last year and his best finish there is a T9 from 2019. Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau might also be ready to shed the moniker “Best Golfers Never to Win a Major.”

 

This year's Will Zalatoris

David Yeazell/USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger stories to play out at the last year’s Masters was that of little-known Will Zalatoris. The then-24-year-old was playing Augusta for the first time in Masters competition, and certainly made the most of the chance. He tied for second after 36 and 72 holes, then got within a stroke of Matsuyama on Sunday, but settled for an impressive second-place finish. So, who could be this year’s Zalatoris? How about Sam Burns? With three PGA Tour wins since early May 2021, the 25-year-old Burns is hardly an unknown commodity, but he’s never played the Masters. Also, betters can get Burns at +4000.

 

15 of 18

Amateur in name only

Amateur in name only

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In 2021, for the first time in six years, no amateur golfer made the cut at the Masters. Then again, only three entered the tournament. Will that change in 2022? There’s a good chance it will, mainly because Japan’s Keita Nakajima is slated to be in this year’s Masters’ field. The world’s top-ranked amateur, Nakajima earned his Masters bid after winning the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship in November. Also in the field is Stewart Hagestad, the Masters’ low amateur in 2017, when he tied for 36th.

 

16 of 18

Bryson gives his body a go

Bryson gives his body a go

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After missing seven weeks due to a broken bone in his hand and a hip issue, DeChambeau, the Masters’ low amateur in 2016, returned to action by going 0-2-1 at the recent WGC Match Play event. The methodical DeChambeau, who won the 2020 U.S. Open, is hoping to be close to 100 percent, physically when he tees off at Augusta. He seems content with his recovery, but even at full health, DeChambeau has struggled at the Masters as a professional. In four pro appearances there, his best finish is tied for 29th.

 

17 of 18

Spieth could be tough to beat

Spieth could be tough to beat

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While plenty of eyes will be on Bryson DeChambeau and his health, Jordan Spieth is another of those late-20s stars who is worth watching at Augusta this season. Spieth won the Masters in 2015, the same year he also was crowned U.S. Open champion. But, he spent a few years struggling with his game and confidence before winning his first tournament in four years and ranking sixth on the PGA Tour Money List in 2021. We’ll see if Spieth can build on last year’s T3 at Augusta to keep the momentum strong.

 

18 of 18

Remembering Mize’s miraculous chip

Remembering Mize's miraculous chip

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History is always a big part of the Masters lore. And this year marks the 35th anniversary of Larry Mize‘s dramatic victory at Augusta. Battling with Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman in a playoff at the 1987 event, Mize recorded his only major victory when he chipped in from just off the 11th green or roughly 110-feet away — on the second playoff hole — for a birdie. It’s one of the greatest Masters memories of all time — and golf shots in the history of the sport. Mize is again in the 2022 field and even made the cut in 2016 and ’17.

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.

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