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The Masters - storylines to follow: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Scottie Scheffler, LIV and more

Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm headline at Augusta National, where Tiger Woods is set to return to action and a strong LIV presence features; watch The Masters throughout the week exclusively live on Sky Sports

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Sky Sports News' Jamie Weir discusses all the big talking points as the countdown to The Masters continues at Augusta.

Will Rory McIlroy secure the career Grand Slam? Will Scottie Scheffler go back-to-back at The Masters? What can we expect from Tiger Woods? Could a LIV player prevail at Augusta National? Storylines to follow this week at the opening major of the year...

Grand Slam time for McIlroy?

Rory McIlroy has another chance this week to complete the career Grand Slam, with the world No 2 arriving at Augusta National with arguably a better chance than ever before of securing the Green Jacket and joining golf's illustrious club.

McIlroy has been in contention several times in his lengthy Augusta career, famously squandering a four-shot lead on the back nine of the 2011 contest but also posting top-10 finishes in half of his 14 previous appearances.

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McIlroy is hoping he can prevent the occasion of The Masters from getting the better of him this year, admitting it has affected his performance in previous years

A runner-up finish in last year's contest sparked a dramatic upturn in form that saw him win three times on the PGA Tour in 2022 and also top the DP World Tour's season-long standings, with McIlroy then making a winning start to 2023 at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in February.

The Northern Irishman has made equipment changes in recent weeks, shortening his driver shaft and reverting to an older-model putter, with those significant tweaks resulting in an impressive performance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and further fuelling his hopes of finally ending his major drought.

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Watch every shot from McIlroy's record equalling 64 from the final round of the 2022 Masters

What to expect from Woods at The Masters?

Tiger Woods is set to make a 25th career start at The Masters, a venue where he has enjoyed five of his 15 major victories, although question marks will remain about how his body will be able to cope physically with the undulating Augusta National layout.

Woods finished 47th in last year's appearance, his first since his career-threatening car crash 14 months earlier, with the former world No 1 only playing once - a tied-45th at the Genesis Invitational in February - since missing the cut at The Open last July.

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World No 1,001 Tiger Woods is on course at Augusta ahead of this week's Masters

He was seen chipping and putting around Augusta in a practice round on Sunday before playing nine holes alongside McIlroy, Fred Couples and Tom Kim a day later, although as of Tuesday morning he had still yet to officially confirm he will - as expected - tee it up.

A record-equalling sixth Masters victory and 16th major title look extremely unlikely, but the fact he is largely replicating the pre-tournament routine of many of his past successes proves the self belief remains.

Will Scheffler enjoy more major success?

Scheffler's Masters success was part of a dominant winning streak for the American last year, with a maiden major title his fourth win in six starts, while the world No 1 has continued to impress on the PGA Tour since securing the Green Jacket.

The 26-year-old has finished no worse than 12th in his last 10 starts and has already enjoyed one successful title defence in 2023, winning the WM Phoenix Open by two shots, while his comfortable Players Championship victory last month was his sixth title in just over 13 months.

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Scottie Scheffler made the most of his five-shot advantage on the 18th green as he four-putted for a double-bogey to win his first major

Scheffler has also contended at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in recent weeks, so it would be little surprise to see him challenging at the top of the leaderboard once again at Augusta National.

Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo and Woods are the only players to have enjoyed back-to-back victories at The Masters, with Scheffler now the latest to have the chance to join an exclusive club.

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Will we see a LIV winner at The Masters?

It is easy to rule out the LIV contingent, but there is a reasonable chance the recipient of the Green Jacket this weekend could well be one of the 18 in the field from the 'rival' tour.

Over 20 per cent of this week's field at Augusta National is made up of players from LIV, with Brooks Koepka arriving off the back of winning the LIV Golf Orlando event on Sunday and among several to have enjoyed success in recent months.

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Bryson DeChambeau, who plays on the LIV Golf Tour, is enjoying the reaction he is receiving from fans at The Masters

Koepka said it would be "a huge statement" for one of the LIV players to enjoy Masters victory, while Cameron Smith said in his pre-tournament press conference that a strong showing from the LIV contingent could help reduce the negative perception surrounding their events.

Former Masters champions Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson are among those looking to add to their major tally, with Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau and Louis Oosthuizen all LIV members getting to return to Georgia this week.

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Nick Dougherty says Cameron Smith cannot focus on the social media-driven animosity between LIV Golf and PGA Tour players at The Masters

Drama ahead at Augusta's new-look 13th?

Augusta National has undergone numerous alterations through the years to keep up with the modern game and the increased hitting distances from the world's best, while the latest change adds a new challenge to one of the most iconic stretches of the course.

The par-five 13th hole rounds off Amen Corner and is historically the easiest hole on the course, with an average score of 4.775 from the field since records began in 1942 and a spot on the back nine where many tournament-defining moments have taken pace.

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Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley gave his view on distance increases in golf and how the challenge of the course's par-five 13th was 'diminishing' during the 2020 contest

An accurate tee shot to the middle of the fairway will allow a player to still go for the green in two if he wishes, although that task has been made trickier by the tee position being moved back 35 yards from 510 yards to a record length of 545 yards.

With a second shot likely to be further away from the green than ever before, will players be inclined to lay up rather than risk landing short and finishing in Rae's Creek? Whatever happens, how the winner plays the 13th hole this week could well be vital in their pursuit of major victory.

Watch The Masters throughout the week live on Sky Sports! Live coverage of the opening round begins on Thursday from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf.

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