The Calm Before The Storm – A 2024 Masters Preview

The 2022 Masters Championship Dinner

THE Masters has built itself an aura that sits above the rest of the golfing majors due to its rich history attached to it.

Being favoured by the players competing as ‘the one they want to win the most’.

Words, drama and anything closely related to the tournament is often amplified ahead of the first major of the year.

But, ahead of the 88th edition of The Masters, it all seems mellow in the golfing world, or at least compared to last year, that being said.

It was the big fiasco of the ‘LIV vs Tour’ debate, but now a year on, the two entities have merged for the price of $3 billion and it all seems like a happy family, or so they want us to think so.

Jon Rahm took home his inaugural Augusta win in 2023, then a PGA Tour player, and now an even wealthier LIV golfer, he hopes to be only the fourth player to retain his green jacket.

I wonder if Scottie Scheffler has been trying on his 2022 Masters winning jacket at home ‘just to see if it still fits’ in case his stellar form carries on through to Sunday 14th April.

The world number one is by far the favourite to win before any round is played, after coming off the back of winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship already this year.

With under a week until the Masters starts, even the Augusta National golf course themselves have been keeping quiet in their preparation ahead, as they announced via the media guide, that they made a small adjustment to one of the holes.

They have moved the tee box on hole two – Pink Dogwood, shifting it 10 yards back and to the left, to now play 585 yards, making the longest hole on the course even longer, and hopefully a bit harder.

The course has physically adapted in its tenure to meet the demands of modern golf, but it still remains arguably the most picturesque course in golf despite its challenges.

It has certainly changed since 50 years ago, when in 1974 Gary Player won his second Masters, but he won’t be playing this year despite invitation.

There will be three South African players contesting for the $18,000,000 purse: Charl Swartzel, Erik van Rooyen and amateur, Christo Lamprecht.

You will probably be able to hear the 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, commentate and analyse his countries counterparts on TV, if you wish so.

Schawrtzlel, now aged 39, will be the experienced leader of the pack as he makes his 15th Masters appearance, but his form in recent LIV tournaments has not proved well, the only glimmer being tied second in the LIV Golf Jeddah tournament in early March 2024.

The next youngest of the trio is Erik van Rooyen, 34, who is yet to make the cut in his first two entries at The Masters. The Johannesburg born player had his first ever win at the Sunshine Tour played at the Eye of Africa in 2017, as well as two PGA Tour wins – Barracuda Championship (2021) and World Wide Technology Championship (2023).

The youngest, but potentially most exciting South African player to touch down in Augusta this year is the world amateur number one, Christo Lamprecht.

The six-foot, eight-inch giant will be making his first Masters appearance after winning The Amateurs Championship in 2023, which gave him automatic exemption into this tournament.

The 23-year-old became the fourth South African player to win the amateur championship after Bobby Cole in 1966, Jovan Rebula in 2018 and Aldrich Potgieter in 2022.

The demanding 18 holes at Augusta National holds no prisoners and making the cut in this year’s Masters is objective number one for the South Africans, but maybe the experience of Schwartzel or the aggressive ambition from the amateur, Lamprect, could put them in the mix if things go their way.

You could say that for them all though, especially those ‘what if’s’ like Rory McIlroy, who’s been chasing that final major to complete the Grand Slam, or if miracles are true, the Tiger Woods could one-up his magical 2019 Masters win to achieve his 16th major.

This calm build-up to the tournament is not that common so close to the start, but we all know that the storm will come, on the course and probably in the sky above too, as Augusta is known for its unpredictability.

About Will Hewlett

If I am not playing sports, then I am watching it. If I am not watching it,then I will be dreaming it. If I am dreaming of it then I might as well be writing about it !

View all posts by Will Hewlett →