🏌️ Most Controversial Masters Moments

Plus: Bunker Shots Made Easy

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According to JRR Tolkein, the game was invented when a hobbit used a club to knock the head off of the goblin Golfimbul, which sailed through the air and landed in a hole!

Whether you’re an ardent fan of Tolkein or not, since it’s Masters week, here’s a fun fact - 36 of the last 37 Masters champions have been in the Top-10 through first two rounds. Maybe something to bet on!

⛳ This day in history: On this date in 1960, Arnold Palmer birdied the final two holes to win the 24th Masters Tournament at Augusta National, edging Ken Venturi by one shot and adding a second Masters to his 1958 title.

Our Top Picks For The Masters

🚩 The first major of the year, the Masters 2024, tees off tomorrow, with all the top golfers across the globe set to battle it out for the coveted Green Jacket at the iconic Augusta National Golf Course.

💰 Purse: $18 million, winner takes home $3.24 million.

Here are our top picks we’re betting on:

🚀 Most Likely to Win: Scottie Scheffler (+400), won the Masters in 2022 and ended up in tenth place last year at Augusta. He's among only three players to consistently land in the top 25 for the past four years at The Masters. In his most recent 36 rounds, Scheffler leads in strokes gained Total and Approach. Additionally, since his debut at Augusta, he's been at the top for strokes gained: Ball Striking. Scheffler is our top pick to win the tournament.

🚀 Key Player in the Top 5: Joaquin Nieman (+450) has three wins and four top-fives since November, with one of those victories in a full-field DP World Tour event. He’s also one of only two LIV golfers to average at least two strokes gained per round this season. Niemann’s best finish at Augusta National is a tie for 16th last year, but he has made the cut each of the past three years. It's a bold one but we're backing Niemann to finish in the top 5 at Augusta.

🚀 Key Player in the Top 10: Hideki Matsuyama (+160) demonstrates excellent course management skills, evident from his impressive ranking of No 2 in Scrambling and Bogey Avoidance at Augusta. Out of the 46 rounds he's played at the venue, he's scored under par in 23 rounds. The 2021 Green Jacket winner, Matsuyama has maintained strong form this year, making him a formidable contender for a top-10 finish.

🚀 Key Player in the Top 20: Xander Schauffele (-185) has two top-3 finishes and a top 10 finish in six starts at the Masters. Over the past five years, he has accumulated 80 birdies or eagles at Augusta, ranking third in this category. Additionally, he holds the second position in Strokes Gained: Total over his last 36 rounds. Schauffele has excelled as the top driver at Augusta in the last two editions and has only experienced a deficit in Tee-to-Green strokes in two PGA Tour events since the 2022 Masters. Given his consistent performance, strong Masters profile, and current form, Schauffele stands as a genuine contender for a top-20 finish.

🚀 Underdog Likely to Emerge: In his debut at the 2021 Masters, Will Zalatoris (+4000) came close to victory, finishing in solo second place. His impressive ball striking abilities were on display again in 2022, securing a T-6 finish. However, he was unable to compete in the 2023 event due to a back injury. Zalatoris has demonstrated consistency at Augusta National, with six out of eight rounds being under par. Additionally, he boasts six top-10 finishes in eight major starts, indicating his capability to contend for victory. With his potential to cause a major upset, Zalatoris is a strong contender to claim the Green Jacket.

* All odds via BetMGM, at the time of publishing.

Scheffler's Masters Participation In Doubt

Photo: Getty Images | Source: Golf Monthly

With less than 24 hours until tee-off, there is worrying news coming from the Augusta National, headlined by injuries to players and possible withdrawals.

⚠️ Scheffler, Burns To Withdraw? Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns are ready to exit Masters if their wives go into labor this week. Scheffler's wife Meredith is due in three weeks, while Burns’ wife Caroline is due in nine days.

🏥 Injury Updates: Jordan Spieth has aggravated a left wrist injury at last week's Valero Texas Open and will play with it at Augusta while Min Woo Lee will play with a broken right ring finger.

On the brighter side, Cameron Smith has recovered from the illness that forced him to withdraw from the LIV Golf Miami event last week.

🌦️ Weather Warning: There is a storm warning at Augusta National for Thursday, with a 90% chance of thunderstorms. But the weather will continue to get better and better as the tournament wraps up on Sunday.

🏌️Hovland's Swing Tweaks: Viktor Hovland is not happy with his swing and is still making changes to it, hours before tee-off at Augusta National. So far, the changes he’s working on haven’t clicked, which is why recent results have been lacking.

📌 Rd 1 Tee Times Of Key Players (ET):
10:42 am - Scheffler, McIlroy, Schauffele
10:54 am - Clark, Hovland, Smith
1:24 pm - Woods, Day, Homa

Worth Mentioning

Rory's Three-Fold Masterplan For Career Grand Slam

Photo: Getty Images | Source: The Augusta Chronicle

Rory McIlroy is desperate to win the Masters more than ever - a victory that would give him the elusive Career Grand Slam.

He paid a visit to legendary swing coach Butch Harmon and they have developed a three-fold masterplan to bring home the Green Jacket.

McIlroy's mental side of the game has been his Achilles' heel at Augusta National Golf Club and Harmon has helped him get over the close failures of the past.

Rory is just focussing on going out there and enjoying his Golf this week at Augusta.

McIlroy has always been a brilliant iron player, but his approach play has been uncharacteristically sloppy in 2024. A technical session with Harmon before the Valero Texas Open seems to have worked wonders.

McIlroy finished solo third last week and gained 7.509 strokes on approach to rank third in the field. It was his best iron week in terms of average strokes gained since the 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational - ominous signs for the rest of the field.

Before even talking about golf or watching a swing, Harmon spoke with McIlroy for 45 minutes about life off the course. McIlroy said that conversation helped free his mind from all the junk.

🤝 Tiger Backs Rory To Win: Not just Tiger's ex-coach Butch Harmon but even Tiger Woods himself is backing Rory McIlroy to win the Masters.

"No question, he'll do it at some point. He's just – Rory's too talented, too good. He'll get it done. It's just a matter of when."

- Tiger Woods

All said and done, it's going to be a steep challenge for Rory over the next four days.

What else is making news

Ryder Cup: Tiger Woods ‘still talking’ with PGA about Team US captaincy at 2025 Ryder Cup.

LIV Golf: LIV Officials have been invited to the Masters for the first time, highlighting the thawing of tensions in the game’s great split.

ESPN: Geoff Ogilvy is joining the ESPN coverage team and will appear as an analyst on SportsCenter all week from the event.

LPGA Tour: Entries are now closed for the The Chevron Championship, the first major championship of the 2024 LPGA season; defending champion Lilia Vu, World No 1 Nelly Korda and 20-time Tour winner Lydia Ko headline the field.

Caddie Corner: Tommy Fleetwood will have Augusta National caddie Gray Moore on the bag at The Masters after illness forced his regular bagman to miss out.

Golf Courses Available: These Milwaukee County golf courses are open for the 2024 season.

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These Are The Most Controversial Masters Moments

Photo: Raymond Carlin III | Source: Golfweek

The Masters, just like any other tournament, is not immune from the occasional controversial incident - here are some infamous Masters controversies over the years.

🚨 The Great Relief Debate (1958): Playing the 12th in the final round with Ken Venturi in 1958, Arnold Palmer’s ball plugged beyond the green. Palmer felt he was entitled to relief under a Local Rule in effect that week but the officials disagreed.

Later, the committee agreed after a long debate and Palmer went on to win by a shot.

🚨 The Scorecard Gaffe (1968): Tommy Aaron absent-mindedly marked de Vicenzo down for a par on the 71st hole when he had actually made birdie, and the Argentine didn’t spot the error before signing his card.

The Rules committee had no choice but to accept the score as signed for under the Rules, despite millions witnessing the birdie.

🚨 A Third Opinion (2004): Two Rules officials denied Ernie Els a drop away from a pile of tree limbs deep in the woods miles left of the 11th fairway, so he took his case to the chairman of the tournament committee, Will Nicholson, who sanctioned a drop.

He eventually finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson.

🚨 Smoothing The Sand (2009): Rory McIlroy came perilously close to disqualification for a rules breach when he seemed to kick out in anger after failing to extricate himself first time from the bunker to the right of 18 in the second round.

When the incident came under investigation, McIlroy claimed he was just smoothing the sand, perhaps a touch more vigorously than usual - he was allowed to continue.

🚨 An Illegal Drop (2013): Tiger Woods found himself in controversy after taking an improper drop on the 15th hole during the second round. He hit a shot that ricocheted off the flagstick and into the water.

Woods dropped the ball two yards behind its original spot, which was deemed improper according to golf rules. However, he was not disqualified but instead given a two-stroke penalty for the violation.

Bunker Shots Made Easy

In today's video, we demonstrate green side bunker shots, handling different lies in golf shots, and more.

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