The 2024 Masters is just 76 days away. So is it too early to make a logical winner’s prediction? Of course it is, but that doesn’t prevent anyone from engaging in some good-natured speculation—including Jim Nantz, the voice of the revered major championship.
On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated visited with Nantz, Trevor Immelman, and CBS’s executive golf producer Sellers Shy on a Zoom call and it was only natural to ponder who might be slipping his arms into the green jacket come April 14, with the assist of defending champion Jon Rahm.
Immelman, winner of the 2008 Masters, came out firing with the diplomatic answer as soon as the question was posed. The tournament is simply too far off to make an informed, confident prediction, according to the South African. However, Immelman did have his eye on a few intriguing names, pending the results of the PGA Tour’s upcoming signature events, which will feature the top 70-80 players on Tour competing for massive $20 million purses. CBS will broadcast six of those eight events, in addition to the Masters and PGA Championship.
“There’s a few things that I need to see play out in the next few months,” Immelman says. “If Scottie Scheffler can find a way to be functional on the greens, it’s just hard to see many people beating him ever. McIlroy has seemed to have held that awesome form that he had for the majority of 2023—he’s already got a win under his belt. Can he become the sixth person to complete the career grand slam? Everyone’s gonna be talking about that. And you’ve got all these youngsters coming through … I also think Xander Schauffele is really gonna step up and get things going to jump into that really top-tier level. But it’s a little too early for me to make that prediction now.”
Nantz wasn’t so circumspect. The anchor of CBS’s Masters broadcasts for the last 36 years, Nantz knows a thing or two about the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. He also cares about the event deeply. Nantz has gone on the record several times to say that the major championship is his favorite annual sports event to call. When Nantz has a Masters-related take that he’s willing to share, there’s only one thing to do: listen.
Before the big reveal, Nantz explained why he deviates from Immelman on the ritual of early prediction-making. The longtime sportscaster says he’d much rather answer such a question months before the tournament than during the Monday practice round. The latter is simply too risky.
“I’d rather make my prediction now than the week of the tournament,” Nantz says. “Because on Sunday’s final round no one will remember it. But right now it might be interesting. It’s dangerous to pick it the week of the tournament because you get there and the players think you’re rooting for someone other than them.”
All valid points. Now onto the important stuff. Who does Nantz think will be sitting across from him in Butler cabin on that magical Sunday afternoon in April? His answer might surprise you.
“I’m going to throw one name out there, and I’ll go with Jordan Spieth,” Nantz says. “If you look at his career record at Augusta, it’s phenomenal what he’s done. Now, I know that a lot of that happened in ‘14, ‘15, ‘16, but he had a run of years where he had top-fives, top-twos, a victory. He had that run a couple of years ago where he was making birdies all over the landscape coming into 18. So, I like what I saw of him at Kapalua. I know at that point, we’re like almost 100 days out, but I’m gonna go with Jordan’s Spieth.
“So, we’ll talk about that prediction on Monday morning, April 15th and we’ll have a little chat,” he continues. “I’ll tell you exactly how I came up with it while preparing at the PGA show in Orlando for a double-dip weekend in Baltimore of football and golf that I had Jordan on my mind.”
There you have it: Jordan Spieth will win the 2024 Masters, according to Jim Nantz.
To put Nantz’s prediction into context, Spieth does have a remarkable record at the Alister MacKenzie masterpiece. Since his Masters debut in 2014, Spieth has one win, only one missed cut, two top-twos, two top-threes, and most recently, a T4 finish in 2023. In his first start of the calendar year at the Sentry, Spieth shot 66-67-67-65 to snag a solo third-place finish behind Chris Kirk and Sahith Theegala.
“I’m really glad I feel like I got a little house money as I go into the heavier part of the season, and I feel like I’m trending in the right direction,” Spieth said from Kapalua. “There’s nothing but optimism about what the season can bring at this point.”
As far as early predictions go, Nantz’s is looking pretty solid. But then again, there are 76 more days for him to change his mind.