The First Look: Masters Tournament

FIELD NOTES: Akshay Bhatia earned the last spot in the field with his dramatic playoff victory Sunday at the Valero Texas Open. He is the first former Drive, Chip & Putt participant to make the Masters field. … Scottie Scheffler arrives at Augusta National as world No. 1 and on top of the FedExCup standings. He has finished no worse than second in his past three starts since switching to a mallet putter. He went back-to-back at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and THE PLAYERS, then finished second at the Texas Children’s Houston Open. This is Scheffler’s fifth Masters. He finished T10 last year and has never finished outside the top 20… Tiger Woods is in the field and will have a pre-tournament press conference at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday. It is Woods’ first start since The Genesis Invitational, where he withdrew in the second round after suffering flu-like symptoms. Woods played last year’s Masters but withdrew on the weekend and underwent ankle fusion surgery shortly after. This marks the fifth anniversary of his “return to glory” victory in 2019. Woods has made the cut 23 straight times at Augusta National – tied for most all-time – and will be looking to add that record this year… Rory McIlroy is taking his 10th crack at completing the career Grand Slam at the Masters. McIlroy has had his opportunities, most famously in 2011. He has finished in the top 10 in seven of the past nine Masters, including a runner-up in 2022 but is coming off a missed cut last year. He earned his first top-10 of the season last week, finishing third at the Valero Texas Open after a recent tuneup with noted swing coach Butch Harmon… Bhatia is among the 20 first-timers at Augusta. Wyndham Clark and Ludvig Åberg highlight the rookie class, along with 2023 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Eric Cole, Valspar Championship winner Peter Malnati (who is making his Masters debut at age 36) and first-time PGA TOUR winners Nick Dunlap,Stephan Jaeger, Austin Eckroat, Jake Knapp and Lee Hodges. Dunlap already was in the field as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion but then turned pro after winning The American Express, which gave him a spot in the field after turning professional. Fuzzy Zoeller is the only Masters rookie to win the green jacket, while six have finished runner-up in their maiden Masters… There are plenty of notables looking for their first major title including Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele, who are all ranked in the top 10 in the world. In the case of Schauffele, he was in the final group on Sunday at both The Genesis Invitational and THE PLAYERS. He finished T10 last year at the Masters and was runner-up in 2019.

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