10 Biggest Storylines From The 2023 Masters

What were the performances, and topics, that dominated the headlines during a memorable 87th Masters Tournament?

Montage of six golfers from the 2023 Masters
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The incredible 87th Masters is in the books and there were some huge storylines throughout the week as Jon Rahm ended it as the fourth Spaniard to don a Green Jacket thanks to an imperious four-stroke victory.

Rahm held off Brooks Koepka in the final group as well as the charging Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth to ease his second Major triumph after 2021's US Open at Torrey Pines.

Here we take a look at the biggest storylines from the 2023 Masters...


Jon Rahm looks to the sky after winning the Masters

Rahm won the Green Jacket on Seve Ballesteros' birthday

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 87th Masters belongs to Jon Rahm.

Rahm is now a two-time Major champion and is the first European in history to win both The Masters and the US Open.

The Spaniard, who joins countrymen Ballesteros, Olazabal and Garcia as Masters champions, moves back to World No.1 and has now won four times already this year. His win came on two-time Masters winner Seve Ballesteros' birthday, just as Sergio Garcia's Green Jacket triumph did in 2017.

"This one was for Seve," Rahm said. "He was up there helping, and help he did."

Rahm has now cemented his place in history and at the top of the modern game, with the real prospect of more Major victories to come throughout the summer months.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson holes his putt at the 18th hole and fist pumps

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Out of seemingly nowhere, Lefty carded the lowest ever Masters round by an over-50 on Sunday, with his 65 propelling him up to T2nd position.

Mickelson has shown little-to-no form in the LIV Golf League but clearly found something this week as he rolled back the years at Augusta. Not many would have had him as the joint-best LIV player for Masters week.

"I feel like it was evident to me that I was hitting a lot of good shots, that I was playing well; I wasn't getting the score out of it," he said.

"Today was a great day for me to stay present and just keep hitting good shots. Even after I might have had a mess-up here or there, I was able to stay present, keep hitting good shots. And I'm hopeful that this kind of catapults me into playing the rest of the year the way I believe I'm playing.

"I really worked hard in the off-season to get ready. I've been shooting some really low scores at home, and today I kind of let it happen rather than trying to force it, and I had a really good day and made some noise. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, but it was really a lot of fun for me to play at this level again, and it's encouraging for me going forward the rest of the year."

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett salutes the crowd at the 2023 Masters

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The US amateur champion received a stunning ovation walking up to the 18th green on Sunday afternoon in what will go down as one of the best Masters amateur performances in recent memory.

The young Texan, with a tattoo on his arm dedicated to some of his late-father's last words, opened the tournament 68-68 and played in the final threesome in round three alongside Brooks Koepka and winner Jon Rahm. That 136 total for the first 36-holes was the best first-two-round Masters score by an amateur since Ken Venturi in 1956.

He eventually finished in T16th at two-under-par. An incredible performance.

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka smiles under an umbrella during The Masters

Koepka reminded as all of why he is a four-time Major champion

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After we got to truly see how low the American was last year in the Netflix Full Swing series, it was great to see Brooks back to his best over the first two days, where he reminded us all why he is a four-time Major champion and former World No.1.

Perhaps when push came to shove and he had a lead at The Masters, the fact that he no longer plays on the PGA Tour caught up with him. He closed with a 75 and eventually finished T2nd with Mickelson, four back of Rahm.

He has three more Majors left this year though, so there's every chance he can go and grab his fifth.

"I'd say probably give it a week, and I'll start to see some positives out of it and carry this over to the PGA, the U.S. Open and The Open," he said. "But right now, it's kind of tough to see, if I'm honest, probably for the next few hours and the next few days."

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy Masters

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As with seemingly every Masters, much of the pre-event build-up was revolving around Rory McIlroy and how it's finally his time to win a Green Jacket. The four-time Major champion came into the week with some new-found confidence after a 3rd-place at the WGC-Match Play where he put in a new putter and a different setup in his driver.

However, McIlroy's second round 77 meant he comfortably missed the cut and found himself some 17 strokes back of Brooks Koepka after just 36 holes.

I rewatched every shot of his Masters disaster and it was clear his swing, putting and mental game just wasn't at the races.

It's a huge disappointment for McIlroy, who has now missed the cut at TPC Sawgrass and Augusta in his two biggest tournaments of the year so far - something you wouldn't have believed after he won in Dubai in January to regain the World No.1 spot.

But the thing with McIlroy is that he tends to be very good at bouncing back, so this agonising week at Augusta could be the impetus for a great summer, we can hope.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods hits an iron shot during The Masters

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Woods rallied in round two to equal the record of most consecutive Masters cuts made with 23, but the cold and wet weather got to him on day three as his plantar fasciitis foot injury was "reaggravated".

It led to a horrible clip emerging of him limping back under his umbrella at The Masters and he later withdrew on Sunday morning with 29 holes left of the tournament.

Is he finished? Should he retire? They're the kind of questions that are being asked. The only person who can answer them are him and his team.

I'd say that in the better weather he was looking fairly good and pre-tournament he maintains that he still has all the shots. He does, but with his injuries and lack of tournaments, he's giving an advantage to the field who are all reguarly competing out on the biggest stages week-in, week-out. Even when the weather was good, he got off to a slow start and that simply looked to be a bit of rust.

Woods can definitely still compete with the world's best, but it has to be on his terms. He needs good weather, maybe a warm-up tournament and a good start, which hasn't happened in his most recent starts where he is having to make up ground almost straight away.

The way he is going, sadly, is that his injuries are forcing him to become a ceremonial golfer, who fans flock to watch but only because of who he is, and not because he has a realistic shot at winning the tournament.

LIV Golfers

Brooks Koepka pace of play

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There was plenty of talk pre-tournament of the LIV golfers and whether they'd have any hope on the big stage where the format wasn't 54-holes, no-cut and guaranteed money.

Well, a LIV player, perhaps ironically, led after 54-holes and at the end of the tournament two of the top three, albeit not the champion, played in the LIV Golf League.

CEO Greg Norman will be very happy with his golfers' performances, as 12 of the 18 made the cut and Koepka, Mickelson and Reed were all inside the top-four-and-ties.

"I mean, we're still the same people. So I mean, I know if I'm healthy, I know I can compete," Koepka said. "I don't think any of the guys that played this event thought otherwise, either.

"When Phil plays good, we know he's going to compete. P-Reed, the same thing. I think that's just manufactured by the media that we can't compete anymore; that we are washed up."

Rules controversies

Brooks Koepka and caddie Ricky Elliott during a practice round before the 2023 Masters

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The first two days were nearly dominated by Brooks Koepka's potential rules break on the 15th hole in round one, where his caddie Ricky Elliott appeared to tell Gary Woodland's bag man what club they hit.

The Masters Committee investigated the incident further by questioning the players and caddies, ultimately finding that there had been no breach.

“Following the completion of Brooks Koepka’s round, the Committee questioned his caddie and others in the group about a possible incident on No.15. All involved were adamant that no advice was given or requested. Consequently, the Committee determined that there was no breach of the Rules.”

The controversial ruling prompted Brandel Chamblee to say that Bobby Jones would have been "disappointed", with winning 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley saying he was "staggered" that Koepka got away with it.

The new 13th tee

A look from the tee at the par-5 13th at Augusta National

(Image credit: The Masters)

The newly lengthened 13th was a big talking point leading up to the week, with Augusta finally adding 35 yards to the hole to bring back the "momentous decision" of going for the green in two as Bobby Jones once said.

It led to more lay ups but did there were plenty of "momentous" decisions, and the added yardage ultimately increased the entertainment of the hole.

No longer were players able to cut the corner and hit wedges in, or simply hit good drawn-drives to leave an 8-iron in. We saw players go in with long irons, hybrids and fairway woods and can conclude that the lengthening has improved the hole from a viewer's standpoint.

Greg Norman

Greg Norman at the 2022 LIV Golf Chicago tournament

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Many of golf's leading figures were at Augusta National this week, including PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour chief Keith Pelley and R&A CEO Martin Slumbers.

Notably, though, the LIV CEO Greg Norman was not invited.

Norman, who had previously received Masters invites as a past Major champion, described his lack of invite as "petty".

"The primary issue and the driver there is that I want the focus this week to be on the Masters competition, on the great players that are participating, the greatest players in the world, which, by our decision in December, we ensured that we were going to honor and be consistent with our invitation criteria," Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said.

"I would also add that, in the last ten years, Greg Norman has only been here twice, and I believe one of those was as a commentator for Sirius Radio. It really was to keep the focus on the competition."

Of course, there were plenty of other big storylines throughout the week - with the weather playing its part. High winds led to three large pine trees falling down on Friday, and in true Augusta fashion the clean-up job was supremely efficient. We also saw Masters rookie Sahith Theegala finishing the top-10 on his Augusta debut, and therefore earning a return next year (the top-12 and ties make it back next year).

The past champions were also a focus as always. 1992 champion and 63-year-old Fred Couples became the oldest player in Masters history to make the cut, while past champions Sandy Lyle and Larry Mize bowed out in their final Masters appearances.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV