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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Meet the three Crimson Tide golfers teeing up at The Masters

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Former Alabama golfer Nick Dunlap will compete in the Masters.

The azaleas have bloomed, and the 2024 golf major championship season has arrived: Masters week is here. Eighty-nine golfers from around the globe have descended on the prestigious Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia, each hoping to slip on the prized green jacket by Sunday evening. 

The field includes three former Alabama Crimson Tide golfers. Nick Dunlap and Lee Hodges are making their debut Masters appearances, and Justin Thomas is searching for his third major title and first green jacket. 

Here is a preview of the outlook for each of these three players this week in Augusta.  

Justin Thomas, +4,000 (BetMGM odds), No. 28 in the Official World Golf Ranking, No. 25 in DataGolf ranking 

Justin Thomas is a 30-year-old player from Louisville, Kentucky. Thomas played at The University of Alabama from 2011 to 2013 before turning pro at 20.  

Emerging as one of the world’s top golfers in the late 2010s, Thomas reached world No. 1 in 2018 and 2020. He’s one of the most decorated players in the world, ranking sixth out of all active players in overall PGA Tour event wins and two major championships, both of which were wins at the 2018 and 2020 PGA championships.  

Simply put, Thomas is one of the most intriguing players in the field, not because of his past success but because of the significant inconsistency in his game as of late.

In his last 25 starts dating back to March 2023, Thomas has as many missed cuts as top-10 performances. In the 2023 major championships, Thomas made the cut only once, finishing tied for 65th at the PGA Championship. This inconsistency in his performance raises questions about his readiness for the Masters.

Putting is the critical factor in Justin Thomas’s recent decline in form. According to, from 2017 to 2022, his strokes gained on the green stood at a commendable average of +0.14. However, in the past two years, there has been a significant drop, with Thomas losing a quarter of a stroke on average (-.26) well putting. 

Thomas’s putting has been so bad recently that at the 2024 Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, round 3 was the worst putting day of his career. He lost 7.02 strokes on Saturday on his way to an abysmal 79.  

When asked about his putting woes, Thomas said his process is still correct, but his execution isn’t.  

“At the end of the day, I would love to, and know that I need to make more putts,” said Thomas. “But I feel like I’m seeing things going the right way, and I just want that hole to start looking like a bucket one of these days.” 

Ahead of the 2024 Masters, Thomas announced a split from his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, in hopes of a fresh face on the bag, meaning a jolt in his form. Mackay and Thomas had been together since 2021. 

In the tournament’s first two rounds, Thomas will play with former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and fellow American Will Zalatoris. 

Nick Dunlap, +25,000, No. 70 OWGR, No. 154 DataGolf 

Nick Dunlap played at Alabama from 2022 to 2024. Dunlap qualified for the Masters after becoming the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991. Dunlap is making his third appearance in a major championship, having played in the 2022 and 2023 US Open Championships.  

After his victory, Dunlap elected to forgo the rest of his college eligibility and turn pro; the 20-year-old is one of 20 players making their debut appearances at The Masters tournament this week. 

Dunlap is one of the hottest young names on the golf scene. He was thrust into the global spotlight as an amateur player after winning the 2024 American Express in La Quinta, California. Dunlap had been a strong prospect before his victory, as the Huntsville native concluded his 2023 season ranked 16th in the nation as a freshman. 

In an interview with Adidas before the tournament, Dunlap said he’d been looking forward to his first experience at the Masters for a long time.  

“Augusta is Augusta; there’s no place like it,” he said. “I’m going to try to learn the golf course as best as I can, try to learn those slopey greens, and come up with a game plan where I can best execute and play my best.” 

In the tournament’s first two days, Dunlap will play with two 2023 Ryder Cup participants: the defending Masters champion, Spaniard Jon Rahm and the Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick. 

Lee Hodges, +4,000, No. 74 in OWGR, No. 89 in DataGolf 

Lee Hodges played collegiate golf at UAB from 2014 to 2016 before transferring to The University of Alabama, where he graduated in 2018 and turned pro immediately after the 2018 NCAA championships.  

Hodges is making his fifth appearance in a major championship and first appearance at the Masters. Hodges qualified for the Masters after a wire-to-wire victory at the 2023 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota. 

After his win at TPC Twin Cities, he said the best part was that he now had a chance to play at the Masters. 

“My caddie was telling me on 18 — I honestly didn’t even think about it — we get to play Augusta next year,” Hodges said. “That’s something else. That was probably the coolest thing I heard all day.” 

Hodges has flashed signs that he can be a competitive player on the professional golf scene; however, inconsistency has marked most of his career. 2023 was undoubtedly the best season of the Huntsville native’s career thus far; aside from the win in Minnesota, he finished the year with seven top-20 performances.  

The 28-year-old has had a forgettable 2024 so far, with just two top 25s to his name this year. As it stands, Hodges isn’t qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs, sitting outside of the top 70 in the 73rd position. 

If there’s one thing that does bode well for Hodges’ chances at Augusta, it’s his approach shot play.  

According to DataGolf, over the last 20 years, on average, over the past six months, the strongest part of Hodges’s game has been his approach shots, sitting at a respectable +.23 strokes gained per shot. In the last 20 years, on average, The Masters champion usually gains the most strokes when hitting their irons, which could be a key factor if Hodges wants to contend this week.  

Hodges will play with fellow Masters debutant Grayson Murray and Polish golfer Adrian Meronk over the first two days of the tournament. 

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