4 things that’ll decide the 2024 Masters champion on Sunday

Scottie Scheffler makes a fist pump at the 2024 Masters

To become the Masters champion, a player must conquer these 4 things on Sunday.

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Masters Sunday has arrived! But before witnessing which player slips on the green jacket, there’s still some unfinished business to take care of out there at Augusta National.

It’s been a wild tournament through the first three days, but every golf fan should expect a dramatic finish that (seemingly) will come down to the wire.

A Masters green jacket.
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Can Scottie Scheffler hold on and continue his dominance as the world’s No. 1-ranked player? Can Collin Morikawa capture his first major title since the 2021 Open Championship? Will Max Homa exorcise his major demons and win his first? Was the improbable birdie on No. 18 that Bryson DeChambeau sunk to end Round 3 the momentum he needed to make a run on Masters Sunday? These are just a few of the storylines to keep an eye on during Round 4.

While nobody knows which golfer will be the latest recipient of the green jacket, there are a few things to pay attention to while taking in the action today.

So what ingredients must a player master at the Masters in order to become champion? I tapped PGA Golf Professional Brendon R. Elliott to list the four most critical factors that’ll help decide the victor. Check them out below!

4 things that will decide the Masters champion

Lots of fun things to look forward to as Sunday at Augusta tees off.

Regardless of who comes out on top, the eventual Masters champion will need to do these four key things in order to join the greatest fraternity in golf.

Manage the conditions

Sunday’s forecasted to be the best weather day of the tournament, with the wind laying down and the temperature rising. The former is a much-needed reprieve, with the gusty conditions over the first three rounds crushing scorecards of many players.

Despite a more favorable forecast, the ultra-pristine turf conditions have made the greens as treacherous as I’ve seen in many years. You watched that all day on Saturday. If you miss your landing spot or start line, even by an inch, it could mean the difference between a good shot and disaster.

The player who can manage the greens the best, from their approach shots, chips, and pitches to putts, will be that much closer to Butler Cabin.

Manage their numbers and pick their spots

Going hand-in-hand with my previous key, the player who manages their numbers and picks their landing spots and start lines the best can start thinking about next year’s Champions Dinner Menu by night’s end.

We all know the traditional pin locations on Sunday at Augusta — which can bait a player into making a mistake when trying to by too aggressive — and, with the exception of Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard, most of guys in the hunt know how to navigate them from previous experience.

If you’re just a few yards off of your mark, it can be the difference between putting for birdie and just trying to save bogey.

Manage emotions

Winning a Tour event is tough enough, but winning a major is on a completely different level! And with no disrespect to the other three majors, becoming a Masters champion may be the biggest challenge of all.

That’s why managing emotions is so critical, so the player who does it best on Sunday will likely be the winner. With as tough as the greens are playing, it’s almost a given that three-putts, lip outs, and other surprises will happen — so it really comes down to who can take those uncertainties and unlucky breaks, control their thoughts, and keep grinding.

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Two of the worst things that a contender can do is either to look too far ahead or dwell on a previous mistake. Additionally, something we often see at Augusta is a player who has a slight lead heading into holes 17 and 18, but can’t quite finish the job. Losing focus at Augusta can be a death wish, so a player must be locked in until their final putt drops.

Those last two holes are typically the two most difficult of the tournament, with Nandina (17) playing to an average of 4.4167 on Saturday, and Holly (18) playing to an average of 4.4667. Any player near the top of the leaderboard who can control these two holes down the stretch will be in the best position to become the next Masters champion.

Navigate the par-5s and avoid disaster at Amen Corner

The eventual Masters winner must take advantage of the par-5s on Sunday, playing them a couple under par. When positioned well off the tee, all four of the par-5s are scoring holes. With the lengthening of No. 13, it’s a little more difficult now. But current leader Scottie Scheffler eagled it on Saturday, and has played the 5s at 7-under on the week to this point — which is exactly where he stands overall as he enters Sunday’s final round.

Lastly, the navigation of the famed Amen Corner — which includes the approach on No. 11, the tee shots on No. 12 and No. 13 — must be played without any major miscues. Birdies on 11 or 12 are not necessarily a must, but making a bogey or worse can result in any dreams of a green jacket evaporating in a hurry.

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Brendon R. Elliott, PGA Golf Professional

Golf.com Contributor

Nick Dimengo

Golf.com Editor