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Jon Rahm has reasons to be confident. The defending Masters champion said there is a high chance a LIV Golf player will snatch the title this year as well. Only 13 of them are there, five down from last year. Had it been any other golfer in any other year, it probably would’ve been laughed off. But times have changed.

One of their own has earned a special invite this year as a validation of his globetrotting victories. With Jon Rahm’s inclusion, the PIF-funded side has 10 of the past 18 Masters champions. That number will only increase unless the PGA Tour professionals surmount a worthy challenge.

The PGA Tour stars have struggled to maintain consistency

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Rory McIlroy, the next in line to complete a career grand slam, has struggled to maintain consistency. Despite starting the year in the Middle East with a grand showdown, the Ulsterman has fumbled this side of the Atlantic. Yet to finish within the top 10 in any PGA Tour event, this might be the first time the four-time Major winner will head to Augusta without a top-10 in the Tour. Before the Masters, McIlroy was still searching for an answer to his iron game.

Jordan Spieth, another PGA Tour professional on the cusp of a career grand slam, is not in a better spot either. A solo third at the Sentry and a T6 at the WMPO offered hopes of a revival; Spieth has been winless since the RBC Heritage victory two years ago. However, he has missed the cut in his last two events. Yesterday, the 30-year-old linksman from Dallas shot 4-under 68 after a first-round 73 at the Valero Texas Open.

Spieth’s long-time friend, Justin Thomas, too, isn’t a bettor’s favorite despite two top-10s this season. Thomas missed the cut at THE PLAYERS Championship and tied for 64th at the Valspar Championship. 

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On the other hand, Patrick Cantlay started on a stellar run in Hawaii. But in his last four outings, the eight-time PGA Tour winner has only one top-10 and two top-15s. However, in his last ten rounds, stretching to his T4 in the Genesis Invitational, the 32-year-old has failed to break 70.

The story is very similar to Rickie Fowler’s. The six-time PGA Tour winner is competing at the Masters this year after missing out three times. But Fowler has failed to break into the top 30 this year. The 35-year-old has missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open, his last outing before the first major. Only Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele have shown consistency and have the experience of the course that can put them at the forefront at Augusta National. On the other hand, LIV Golf players have been performing exceptionally well.

LIV Golf professionals are combat-ready for the Masters

Jon Rahm, himself, hasn’t lifted individual silverware. But he has netted a top-10 in three of his past four events. The Spaniard is also second in reaching greens in regulation on the breakaway side. 

Read More: Phil Mickelson’s Masters Mistreatment Leaves Golf Fans Furious & Confused: ‘Absolute Disgrace’

On the other hand, his final-day playing mate from last year, Brooks Koepka, is slowly preparing himself for mounting another attack in Georgia. The five-time Major winner has three top-10s and is eighth on LIV Golf Miami’s packed leaderboard. Koepka finished runner-up twice, the first in 2019. The next came in 2023, when a final-round gaffe cost him the green jacket. This year, the 33-year-old has achieved 74.07% of greens in regulation. 

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Joaquin Niemann, the only LIV golfer to earn an invitation despite not being otherwise qualified, has lived up to that nod from Augusta. The 25-year-old Chilean has already amassed two victories in the fledgling league, in addition to a fourth in Hong Kong. Niemann is 2nd in driving distance (314.4 yards), 8th in greens in regulation (75%), and has made an average of five birdies each round. Furthermore, only twice in his last ten events has the 25-year-old finished outside the top 10.

Another thing to note is that LIV Golf players are playing more events this year than in 2023 before heading to Augusta. The final pitstop before the Masters is at Trump Doral, which is an added advantage. Until 2016, The Blue Monster was the PGA Tour’s final layover before the season’s first major.

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The par 72, 7701-yard layout tests the golfers on levels similar to Augusta’s. Despite posing some challenges, TPC San Antonio falls a little short of the daunting Blue Monster. The door to the Butler’s Cabin is wide open for both. However, the Tour’s biggest stars need to show more consistent performance.

Read More: Masters 2024: Top 5 LIV Golfers Who Can Beat OWGR Leaders in the ANGC Field

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