As golf fans gear up for another edition of the US Masters, it will be refreshing to see a full set of spectators again in Augusta, Georgia after two years of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A lot has changed in that time and consequently fans missed out on seeing Dustin Johnson’s record breaking 2020 victory as well as Hideki Matsuyama shocking the Masters betting odds to win last year.

The green jacket is one of the most sought after and prestigious awards in all of golf and whoever wins it this year will be able to bask in the full glory of the Augusta crowd. Everything is gearing up for an exhilarating tournament, but who will come out on top amongst the plethora of high-ranking golfers? Who could cause an upset? And who will flatter to deceive? Read on, as we discuss some of they key talking points ahead of the 2022 Masters.

Matsuyama to struggle

Since claiming a surprise victory in last year’s Masters, things have proved challenging for Hideki Matsuyama. He rose through the ranks and now finds himself on the periphery of the top 10, and a win in Augusta would be exactly what he needs to get there.

However, after suffering with injury since the turn of the year, he’s going to have to play through some degree of pain no matter how quickly he steps up to make a return. It’s proving difficult to see how he’ll replicate that form of last year, especially after being so out of practise from missing the Players Championship and Dell Technologies Match Play throughout the winter.

Justin Thomas can put last year behind him

It was a tough Masters last time out for Justin Thomas, who fell victim to inconsistency, resulting in an underwhelming seventh-place finish, especially as he was tipped for big things before the tournament started. Thomas is still only 28, and has plenty of time ahead of him, but you get the sense that if he can build a surge of momentum, he could well prove stiff competition for those at the top of the leaderboard. He consistently places in the top 25 in the Masters and has finished in the top 10 of his last eight tournaments, now the question is whether he can get over the line and clinch a memorable victory.

Rory McIlroy will prove he’s still one of the best

As we mentioned earlier, a lot has changed in golf since the start of the pandemic, and to an extent, Rory McIlroy has gone under the radar in terms of expectations for the Masters. Despite his absence from the WGC-Match Play, the 32-year-old — one of the older names amongst the current top ten — will be eager to add a Masters title to his list of accolades, especially as it’s now a decade since his capitulation in Augusta back in 2011.

Youth can prevail

With the recent surge in new golfers, it’s more than likely at least one can bring their A-game throughout the tournament. The likes of Collin Morikawa and Guido Migliozzi, as well as US Open winner Jon Rahm are all under 30, and it sets up an exciting future for golf, with the Masters perhaps serving as a watershed moment for the sport.