Masters tier rankings: Can Tiger win if he plays?

Masters tier rankings: Can Tiger win if he plays?

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods says it will be a “game-time decision” on whether he plays in the 86th Masters, which is scheduled to begin Thursday.

Woods, 46, hasn’t played a round in a regular PGA Tour event in more than 500 days. He has been recovering from serious injuries to his right leg and right foot that he suffered in a car wreck outside Los Angeles on Feb. 23, 2021. Woods was at Augusta National on Sunday to continue his practice and preparation.


With Woods potentially back in the field, who is going to win the Masters might not be the biggest question heading into the tournament. It’s whether Woods, a 15-time major champion, plays and, if he does, whether he can contend for a sixth green jacket.

Here’s a look at the 91 players who will attempt to win golf’s most revered championship this week:

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Guys who can win | If everything goes right | Miracles happen
Past champions | Happy to make the cut Amateurs

Tier I: The guys who can win

Here are the legitimate contenders. They have the games, guts and nerves to handle four pressure-packed rounds on one of the most treacherous golf courses in the world.

Scottie Scheffler
There’s not a hotter golfer on the planet than Scheffler, who has won three times in his past five starts. The last time a player ascended to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking and made his next start at a major, Ian Woosnam won a green jacket in 1991. One concern for Scheffler: He ranks 134th in driving accuracy (57.2%).

Justin Thomas
Thomas has five straight top-25 finishes at Augusta National, including a tie for 21st in 2021, when he fired a 5-under 67 in the second round to pull within three strokes of the lead. He was a combined 4 over in the final 36 holes. He has five top-10s in nine starts on tour this season.

Jon Rahm
The 27-year-old Spaniard is no longer No. 1 and hasn’t won since the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June. He has finished in the top 10 in each of his past four starts at Augusta National, including a tie for fifth in 2021. His short game hasn’t been great; he ranks 170th in shots gained: around the green (-.257) and shots gained: putting (-.115).

Viktor Hovland
Hovland, 24, drives the ball exceptionally well and has become one of the best iron players in the world. But he ranks 209th in shots gained: around the green and his chipping, though improving, leaves much to be desired. Hovland was low amateur at the 2019 Masters, tying for 32nd.

Collin Morikawa
If Augusta National is truly a second-shot course, then you have to like Morikawa’s chances. In 2020-21, he led the tour in shots gained: approach (1.17), and he’s seventh in greens in regulation (72.2%) this season. He won the 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 Open Championship in his first starts in those events, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win a green jacket in his third Masters start.

Cameron Smith
The Australian has already won twice this year, at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The Players, where he collected $3.6 million in prize money. He tied for runner-up at the 2020 Masters, when he became the only player in the tournament’s history to shoot in the 60s in all four rounds.

Patrick Cantlay
The reigning FedEx Cup champion cooled off a bit over his past three starts. He ranks second on tour in birdie average (5.2) and ninth in scoring average (69.95), but just 89th in driving accuracy (60.8%) and 62nd in greens in regulation (68.4%). He missed the cut at the 2021 Masters.

Hideki Matsuyama
Last year, Matsuyama became the first man from Japan to win a major championship and the first player of Asian descent to win the Masters. He won twice on tour this season, at the Zozo Championship in October and Sony Open in Hawaii in January. He withdrew from The Players because of a back injury and then the Valero Texas Open with a neck issue. He is attempting to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002 to win back-to-back Masters tournaments.

Rory McIlroy
For the eighth time, McIlroy will attempt to complete the career grand slam by winning a green jacket. He had five top-10 finishes in his past seven tries, but missed the cut in 2021. He would become only the sixth player to complete the career grand slam in the Masters era, joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Woods.

Jordan Spieth
The 2015 Masters champion’s form hasn’t been great since a runner-up finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in early January. But few players have been better at Augusta National than Spieth, who has finished in the top five in five of his eight starts. He tied for third in 2021 and led the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

Dustin Johnson
DJ hasn’t had a victory in the U.S. since winning a green jacket at the Masters in November 2020. He missed the cut at Augusta National in 2021, becoming the third defending champion in five years to miss the weekend (Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia were the others). Johnson does seem more confident hitting his driver this season.

Will Zalatoris
Zalatoris has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but he was phenomenal in the 2021 Masters. He nearly became the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win the Masters in his first start, before finishing one shot behind Matsuyama for solo second. Zalatoris was the only player to break par in all four rounds. He’s one of the best ball strikers in the world and putted better at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Xander Schauffele
Few players have performed better in majors without winning one than Schauffele, who has finished in the top 10 in nine of his 18 career starts. He made a remarkable run in the final round at Augusta National last year, with four straight birdies to cut Matsuyama’s lead to 2 shots with three holes to play. But then Schauffele hit his tee shot on the par-3 16th into the pond. He finished tied for third.

Brooks Koepka
Koepka has been dogged by injuries the past two seasons, which is why he has fallen to 17th in the world. The four-time major champion seems to show up when it matters most. He had three straight top-11 finishes at Augusta before missing the cut last year.

Louis Oosthuizen
The South African has developed plenty of scar tissue in majors, with four top-three finishes in four of the past five. He was runner-up at the 2021 PGA Championship and U.S. Open and had the 54-hole lead at The Open before tying for third. Oosthuizen was solo second at the 2012 Masters.

Daniel Berger
The four-time PGA Tour player hasn’t been great at Augusta National, where he finished in the top 10 only once in four starts, a tie for 10th in 2016. He tied for 27th in 2017, tied for 32nd in 2018 and missed the cut last year. Berger is exceptional around the green and ranks fourth in shots gained: total (1.702) this season.

Tier II: If everything goes right

Here are the sleeper candidates to slip on a green jacket. The list features past champions and runners-up whose games have been works in progress so far this season. Will it all come together at Augusta?

Tiger Woods
Woods hasn’t competed in a regular PGA Tour event since tying for 38th at the 2020 Masters, which was played in November that year because of COVID-19. It’s hard to imagine him competing for a sixth green jacket, which would tie Jack Nicklaus for most, but Woods isn’t showing up for a participation check, either.

Sam Burns
Burns won for the third time on tour at the Valspar Championship last month. He will be making his Masters debut.

Matt Fitzpatrick
The Englishman leads the PGA Tour in shots gained: total (2.053) and is fourth in scoring average (69.72). His best finish in eight starts this season was a tie for fifth at the Valspar Championship.

Abraham Ancer
The fourth Mexican player in history to win on the PGA Tour, Ancer has played Augusta National well in two starts, with scores in the 60s four of his eight rounds.

Corey Conners
The Canadian is one of the best ball strikers on tour, and it has shown at the Masters. He tied for 10th in 2020 and tied for eighth in 2021. Last year, he became just the sixth player to record an ace on the par-3 sixth hole.

Bubba Watson
The two-time Masters champion is always a threat there, but he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in his past three starts. His best finish in five starts this season was a tie for 14th at the WM Phoenix Open.

Max Homa
Homa has been in good form with four straight top-20 finishes in stroke-play events. He missed the cut in each of his first two Masters starts.

Patrick Reed
The 2018 Masters champion, who played collegiately at Georgia and Augusta State, has a nice track record at Augusta National. But he hasn’t played very well after he was admitted to a Houston hospital with bilateral pneumonia in August 2021.

Adam Scott
Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, has made the cut in 18 of 20 starts at Augusta National, earning more than $3.7 million in the process. He hasn’t been much of a factor since 2017, when he tied for ninth.

Joaquin Niemann
A 23-year-old from Chile, Niemann picked up his second tour win with a wire-to-wire victory at The Genesis in February. He tied for 40th at the 2021 Masters.

Paul Casey
Still searching for his first major championship at age 44, Casey hasn’t cracked the top 10 at the Masters since a solo sixth in 2017.

Harold Varner III
HV3 is in the Masters field for the first time after getting into the top 50 of the world ranking. He tied for sixth at The Players in March.

Sungjae Im
He missed the cut in 2021, after tying for second in his first start in 2020, when he had four straight sub-par rounds. He was the first Asian player to finish runner-up at the Masters.

Matthew Wolff
Wolff’s form hasn’t been great since a resurgence in the fall, when he was second at the Shriners Children’s Open and tied for fifth at Mayakoba. He missed the cuts in each of his first two Masters starts.

Tom Hoge
Hoge has cooled off after a sizzling stretch in January and February, when he was solo second at the American Express and won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He will be making his Masters debut.

Russell Henley
One of the last players to make the field by climbing into the top 50 of the Official World Golf rankings at the March deadline, Henley will be making his sixth Masters start and first since 2018.

Tyrrell Hatton
The Englishman is coming off his best Masters finish, a tie for 18th in 2021. He tied for second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in early March.

Tommy Fleetwood
Fleetwood is still seeking his first victory on U.S. soil. He has shown signs of life, after struggling with his game for several months. He tied for 46th at the 2021 Masters, but did have a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th in the first round.

Marc Leishman
The Australian has three top-10 finishes in nine starts at Augusta National, including a tie for fifth in 2021, when he was just two shots off the lead after 36 holes.

Shane Lowry
The 2019 Open Championship winner hasn’t had a ton of success at Augusta National. He made the cut in three of six starts, with a tie for 21st in 2021 being his best finish.

Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, has made just four starts on tour this season because of hip and hand injuries. DeChambeau once boasted he could play Augusta National as a par-67 course, but he hasn’t finished better than a tie for 21st in five starts.

Webb Simpson
Simpson’s game has slipped a bit in the past two seasons, but he has been pretty steady in his last four Masters starts. He has three straight finishes in the top 12.

Justin Rose
A two-time runner-up at the Masters, Rose opened with a 7-under 65 to grab a four-shot lead after the first round in 2021. He played the final 11 holes in 9 under. He was a combined 2 over on the weekend and finished seventh.

Billy Horschel
Horschel’s best finish in his previous seven starts at Augusta National was a tie for 17th in 2016. He hasn’t cracked the top 30 in the past three.

Seamus Power
At 35, the Irishman is playing some of the best golf of his career with nine top-25 finishes in 15 tour starts this season. It will be his first start in a major championship.

Cameron Champ
Champ, who hits it very, very far (he leads the tour in driving distance with a 320-yard average), already has three rounds of 4-under 68 in his two starts at Augusta National.

Tony Finau
It has been a difficult stretch of golf for Finau, who has just one top 25 in 11 starts on tour this season. He has three top-10s in four Masters starts.

Kevin Kisner
If the Masters were a match-play tournament, you could probably pencil Kisner in for a Sunday final. Augusta National’s length is probably too much for him, however, as he missed the cut in each of his last two starts.

Sergio Garcia
Garcia won the 2017 Masters, in his 19th start in the event, when he defeated Rose on the first playoff hole. Since becoming the third Spaniard to win a green jacket, Garcia has missed the cut in each of his past three starts.

Brian Harman
One of seven players in the field who played collegiately at the University of Georgia, Harman is coming off his best finish at the Masters, a tie for 12th in 2021.

Gary Woodland
The 2019 U.S. Open champion had a nice Florida swing with back-to-back ties for fifth at the Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational. He missed the cut in four of his last six Masters starts.

Tier III: Hey, miracles happen

They are the long shots. This tier includes aging former champions, a few players struggling with their form and a few first-timers.

Francesco Molinari
It seemed to take the Italian a long, long time to get over his final-round collapse at the 2019 Masters. He went 49 straight holes without a bogey before closing with a 2-over 74 on Sunday as Tiger Woods won his fifth green jacket. Molinari finished 52nd in 2021.

Robert MacIntyre
Talor Gooch
Kevin Na
Jason Kokrak

Si Woo Kim
Cameron Young

Lee Westwood
The two-time Masters runner-up is still seeking his first major championship at age 48. He tied for second in the 2016 Masters with a 3-under 69 on Sunday.

Zach Johnson
Sepp Straka
Erik van Rooyen
Mackenzie Hughes

Luke List
List’s sudden-death playoff victory over Zalatoris at the Farmers Insurance Open in January (the first win of his career) earned him his first Masters start since 2005. He was the low amateur runner-up that year, finishing tied for 33rd.

Thomas Pieters
Ryan Palmer

Guido Migliozzi
Migliozzi, a 25-year-old from Italy, received a Masters invitation by trying for fourth at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He has two victories on the DP World Tour.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Charl Schwartzel

Tier IV: Happy to make the cut

They aren’t expected to be among the contenders unless something magical happens. Some know-it-all probably said the same things about Danny Willett, Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman before they unexpectedly won, too.

Danny Willett
The unlikely 2016 Masters champion has made the cut in only one of his five starts since, a tie for 25th in 2020. He won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews on the DP World Tour in October.

J.J. Spaun
The Los Angeles native was the last player in the field and qualified by winning the Valero Texas Open. It is his first appearance at Augusta National and just his third start in a major.

Hudson Swafford
Lucas Glover
Takumi Kanaya
Garrick Higgo
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Harry Higgs
Min Woo Lee
Lucas Herbert
Cameron Davis
Stewart Cink

Padraig Harrington
The captain of the European Ryder Cup team that fell to the U.S. at Whistling Straits, Harrington made the Masters field by tying for fourth at the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. It’s his first Masters start since 2015.

Tier V: Past champions

They’re here only because they own green jackets and earned the right to come back and play, but their days of competing are in the rearview mirror.

Fred Couples
The 1992 Masters champion once made 23 consecutive cuts, a tournament record, but missed the weekend in each of his last three starts.

Bernhard Langer
The two-time Masters champion is now the oldest player in the field at 64. He finished tied for 29th in 2020, when he became the oldest player to make the cut at 63.

Sandy Lyle
Larry Mize

Jose Maria Olazabal
The two-time Masters champion from Spain surprisingly made the cut last year and finished tied for 50th.

Vijay Singh
Mike Weir

Tier VI: Amateurs

They’re the new kids in the Crow’s Nest and the most talented (and most fortunate) amateur players in the world. They’re trying to do what Ryan Moore (tied for 13th in 2005), Hideki Matsuyama (27th in 2011) and Bryson DeChambeau (21st in 2016) did before turning pro.

Austin Greaser

Stewart Hagestad
The former USC golfer became only the sixth multiple winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur in October. At the 2017 Masters, he became the first Mid-Amateur champion to make the cut and was low amateur at 6-over 288, which was good for a tie for 36th.

Aaron Jarvis
Jarvis, a freshman from UNLV, won the Latin America Amateur Championship at Casa de Campo as the 1,669th-ranked amateur golfer in the world. The 19-year-old shot a final-round 69 to beat the rest of the field by a stroke. He grew up on the Cayman Islands, which has two golf facilities — an 18-hole course and a 9-hole course.

Keita Nakajima
James Piot

Laird Shepherd
The Englishman, who has a history of back problems and was working in a customer-service call center not long ago, produced one of the greatest comebacks in British Amateur history in June. He trailed by 8 with 17 holes to play in a 36-hole final, but rallied back and birdied the last four holes to force a playoff. He won on the second extra hole.

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