With the first tee shot at Augusta National this morning, what many golf fans consider to be the official start of the season is now underway. Golf’s most revered tournament — The Masters — presents fans with a bevy of compelling storylines. At the end of the day, the only real story is which golfer slides their arms through the sleeves of the green jacket and is crowned champion.
As the action continues throughout the week and weekend, here are some golfers to watch in this always-competitive field.
Let’s get this one out of the way right now. After all, in what tournament is Tiger Woods NOT a golfer to watch? This year, though, that attention is merited as he has returned to vintage form and is out for vengeance after falling to 40th place in last year’s Masters. Woods is looking to add to the three other Masters titles he already has, and continues to chase down Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories. Woods is currently stuck on 14.
The Vegas betting odds aren’t exactly in Johnson’s favor, but he certainly has the tools to make a good run at Augusta National. Few golfers possess the raw power that Johnson does, however, you need more than just power to find success on this mammoth stage. Johnson’s three previous appearances at The Masters have been forgettable, never finishing above the 30th spot on the leaderboard. Will that change this year?
Bubba, what have you done for me lately? Unfortunately, that is a familiar refrain from Watson’s detractors. Golfers cannot rest on their laurels. Watson made a fierce comeback at Augusta National last year and ended up capturing the victory. Some peg Watson as a one-hit wonder because of it. Others see the potential in Watson, especially when he can harness his often-volatile emotional side. Could it be back-to-back victories for Bubba?
He’s not exactly a favorite, but he certainly makes for an interesting storyline. The native of China has made history as the youngest golfer to compete at The Masters at the very ripe age of 14. Many of the golfers in the field have been playing the game longer than Guan has been alive. It will be interesting to see if he can really turn some heads and manage to make the cut.
Is it time for this 23-year-old to dominate like the No. 2 golfer in the world should? Make no mistake, McIlroy has done plenty to cement his high standing in the worldwide golf scene, but to be considered a bonafide superstar, he needs to come to play on these big stages. He’s been to The Masters four times and finished in 15th place last year. He’s looking to add to his three major titles, a critical task if he ever wants to surpass the golfer sitting in front of him (Woods).
An Englishman has not secured a Masters title since 1996 when Nick Faldo did it. Rose might just be the next to do it. He’s certainly in position, ranked No. 3 in the world. He has shown the capability of performing well at this course, finishing in fifth place during The Masters in 2007.