By Tim Liotta
Some Choices to Make Getting Ready for the 2024 Masters
The countdown to Kapalua and the beginning of the 2024 professional golf season have the golf's best setting up their January-February-March calendars with the goal of having their games peaking for the Masters Tournament, the year's first major championship set for April 11-14.
The PGA Tour's top 50 players on the 2023 FedEx Cup standings, plus winners of 2023 PGA Tour events, will begin their year at The Sentry in Kapalua, Hawaii (Jan 4-7), which has been designated the tour's first Signature event. February and March are where scheduling will come down to individual preferences, assuming everybody will be in the Signature Events those months.
The first two Signature Events - the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am (Feb. 8-11) and The Genesis Invitational (Feb. 15-18) scheduled around one of the tour's most popular stops, the WM Phoenix Open (Feb 8-11). Two weeks later comes the third Signature event: the Arnold Palmer Invitational (Mar 7-10), which is the week before the PLAYERS Championship (Mar 14-17).
"I'll mix in a few non-signature events as the year goes on," said World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler at the just-concluded Hero World Challenge. "I haven't made it too deep in my schedule but I have a pretty good idea of what it'll look like at the beginning of the year. I'll obviously play Phoenix again and then play every Signature event that I can."
If Scheffler - or any top PGA Tour player for that matter - adopts that schedule, he would play three weeks (Pebble/Phoenix/Genesis), take two weeks off, play two weeks (Arnold Palmer/the PLAYERS), and then have three weeks leading up to the Masters to make any last-minute adjustments.
An alternative would be to replace Phoenix with the Farmers Insurance Open (Jan 24-27), giving a player a schedule of playing two weeks (Farmers/Pebble Beach), take a week off, playing one week (Genesis), taking two weeks off, then playing two weeks (Arnold Palmer/PLAYERS), and then have three weeks to the Masters.
Jordan Spieth, who reported re-injuring his wrist after the Ryder Cup, is taking a less definitive approach to the first month of 2024.
"I've been feeling really, really optimistic about some of the stuff that we've been doing and so I plan to push it," said Jordan Spieth. "And then looks like I'll have a little break after Sentry as well, but then go really heavy after that. So it's kind of trying to get things ready for Sentry, but then I also have a good amount of time there there after where if you really want to start peaking consistently. I hope to get things exactly where I want them by January 1st, but if it's by January 15th, that would be great too."
The LIV Tour has five events scheduled in the months leading up to the Masters: LIV Golf Mayakoba (Feb 2-4), LIV Golf Las Vegas (Feb 9-11), LIV Golf Saudia Arabia (Mar 1-3), LIV Golf Hong Kong (Mar 8-10), with the tour having an event labeled LIV Golf USA (Apr 5-7) at a location to be announced.
This will give Masters defending champ Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau a playing schedule of playing two weeks, two weeks off, playing two weeks (Saudi Arabia/Hong Kong), then four weeks off until the event to be announced the week before the Masters.
The DP World Tour has nine events scheduled leading up to the Masters. The season kicks off with the Dubai Invitation (Jan 11-14), followed by three more events in the Middle East. After an off week, the DP World Tour schedule has tournaments scheduled five weeks in a row in Africa and Asia, with the final event to be announced for March 28-31.
Justin Thomas, who has not qualified for the PGA Tour's Signature events, has different decisions to make for starting out 2024. The American Express (Jan 18-21) and Farmers Insurance (Jan 24-27) kickoff the non-Signature schedule. After the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the WM Phoenix Open (Feb 8-11) offers the next opportunity.
"I don't know, it's one of those things, and right now I'm planning on starting the year in Palm Springs (at the AmEx), which I'm excited about," said Thomas prior to the Hero Challenge. "That's a tournament I played in the past. I think it's a great event, it's a cool event. Just with going to Kapalua and then starting in either Torrey or Phoenix, it just hasn't worked for me.
"Obviously not being at Kapalua this year, it's an event I'm excited to go to and works. Yeah, there's a lot of things that are up in the air that I don't know what's going to happen ... in a perfect world I'd love to play Pebble, Phoenix, L.A. I would love to do all of that and be part of it, but it's just one of those things again that it's all going to take care of itself. I just need to worry about what I can control and do and let it all happen."
The first three majors of 2024 are scheduled either the week before or after a Signature event, with the U.S. Open sandwiched by two.
The week after the Masters comes the RBC Heritage (April 18-21).
The next Signature event, the Wells Fargo Championship (May 16-19), is scheduled the week before the PGA Championship, which will be held May 16-19 at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY.
After a two-week break, the Memorial (Jun 6-9) will be held before the U.S. Open, set for June 16-19 at Course No. 2 at the Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2) in Pinehurst Village, NC. The following week features the Travelers Championship (Jun 20-23).
The 152nd Open Championship is scheduled fo July 18-21 at Royal Troon in South Ayrshire, Scotland. Two weeks later, the 2024 schedule squeezes in the Olympics, with the Men's Golf Competition to be played at Le Golf Natianal in Paris, France.