Given 2018 is a Ryder Cup year, there is even more incentive to perform well at Augusta as the points on offer could be the difference between making the US or European teams for the event in Paris, France in September.
Here is a look at five players who could win the Green Jacket for the first time in their careers in the 82nd edition of the tournament.
Australian golfer Jason Day was as high as number one in the world rankings in September 2015, however, sadly for the former US PGA Championship winner, his form has not quite been as solid over the last couple of years.
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Day has yet to taste success in the US Masters, however, his game is perfectly suited for the course at Augusta. He has had three top-10 finishes since making his debut there in 2011. The closest he has come to the Green Jacket was six years ago where he ended the weekend in a tie for second, two shots behind the winner Charl Schwartzel.
The man from Queensland had a winless season in 2017 and therefore will have put a lot of hours in during the off-season to sharpen up his game ready for 2018. He split from his caddie of 11 years Colin Swatton and has been using his friend Luke Reardon on the bag in his most recent tournaments.
Day plays Augusta as well as any of the top players on the PGA Tour, therefore, a return to Georgia may just help him rekindle his old form. The Australian is as big as +1600 to win the 2018 tournament which could be a huge price, his outsider status no doubt attractive to bettors on the lookout for a market to use one of the many free bets offered by odds comparison website Oddschecker.
Rickie FowlerIt is surely only a matter of time before Rickie Fowler finally wins a major championship. The hot-shot American will take encouragement from Garcia’s success in 2017 as the Spaniard was taking part in his 74th Major Championship when he won the Masters. Fowler is only 28 years old, with, his best years in the sport could be ahead of him.
The American has made a brilliant start to the 2017/18 campaign as he won the Hero World Challenge where he carded a score of -11 across the four days in the Bahamas. The eight-time PGA Tour winner also went close in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba but fell short by just one stroke despite solid rounds of 65-67-67-67 in the tournament won by Patton Kizzire.
Fowler is a great player to watch around Augusta as he is fearless. The former number one ranked amateur attacks every hole that he plays, therefore, he gives himself lots of opportunities to score birdies and eagles on the par fives.
Although he has yet to get over the line in one of the big four tournaments, Fowler has a top-five finish in each of the Major Championships. The closest he has come to the Green Jacket was in 2014 where he finished in a tie for fifth place. The Ryder Cup participant can now lean on his experience at Augusta and in big tournaments to help him win the biggest competition of his career.
Brooks KoepkaBrooks Koepka had a breakthrough year on the PGA Tour in 2017 as he landed the US Open at Erin Hills in a very composed performance on the final Sunday as he showed no signs of nerves to pick up the top prize in the second Major of the year.
Koepka will now want to build on his success over the last 12 months when he tees off in 2018. The American has risen up the rankings recently and is now as high as eighth in the current standings. He looks on course to qualify for the USA team for the Ryder Cup once again but will want to add more tournaments to his name before then.
The 27-year-old has played in the last three US Masters’ and with each year he has improved his finishing position in the event. In 2017 the graduate of Florida State University just missed out on a top 10 finish as he ended the weekend in 11th place.
Koepka will look forward to tacking the par fives at Augusta once again as he is one of the longest hitters from the tee on the tour. If his short game is also just as good, like it was in the US Open back in June, he has to be considered as one of the leading contenders for the tournament next year as he has proved he is capable of converting a winning position into silverware.
Rory McIlroy needs just the US Masters to complete the set of Major Championships in his career, therefore, the Green Jacket at Augusta will be his priority once again this season. The Northern Irishman has not been outside of the top 10 in the Masters in each of the last four years, therefore, he has been one of the most consistent golfers on the PGA Tour to play the course in Georgia.
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By his very high standards, 2017 was a disappointing year for McIlroy who will be desperate to bounce back in 2018. He recorded six top finishes but was unable to add to his trophy count during the calendar year. In that time, he has split from his caddie JP Fitzgerald and is now working with his good friend Harry Diamond.
McIlroy will be making his 10th appearance in the Masters this year so he will know the course very well when he tees off in April. The former world number one led the field in 2011 after 54 holes before shooting a final round of 37 which ruined his chances.
The bookmakers make McIlroy one of the leading contenders in the betting for the 2018 US Masters at +900 as they know that the European player is difficult to stop in any field when he is at the top of his game.
Justin ThomasFedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas will be full of confidence going into 2018 as the American has won five PGA Tour tournaments in the last 12 months, including his maiden Major Championship which came in the 2017 US PGA Championship.
Thomas has been tipped for a number of years to be one of the leading players in the USA and he has now fulfilled that potential. The 24-year-old has only had two appearances in the US Masters and has yet to record a top 20 finish, however, he should now be familiar with the course which will help his chances in 2018.
The US PGA Championship winner has one of the most solid games in the sport today. Unlike some of the elite on the PGA Tour, Thomas does not have many weaknesses. Those who have had success at Augusta over the years have known exactly when to attack and when to defend and Thomas is intelligent enough to play the right shots at the right time in the Masters.
Thomas is +18000 to win back-to-back Major Champions in April and continue to climb up the standings in the world rankings where he currently positioned at number three.
The 2018 US Masters begins on April 5 where there is expected to be 19 past champions in the field, including the resurgent Tiger Woods who recently made a return to the sport and will be bidding for his fifth Green Jacket.