Golf’s major championship season tees off Thursday morning, when the game’s best players converge on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National for the 81st edition of the Masters.
England’s Danny Willett is seeking a repeat but will have to beat out a talented field. Severe weather shut down Wednesday’s annual Par 3 contest and shortened practice time, but the skies should be clear when play begins.
Read on for a look at four golfers to watch in the hunt for the green jacket.
Only something unforeseen could slow down the tournament favorite. Johnson suffered a freak fall on a staircase in his rental home and landed hard on his lower back Wednesday. As of that evening, he was resting “with the hope of being able to play,” according to agent David Winkle.
The 32-year-old has notched six top-10 performances in majors since the start of 2015. But this incident could put the brakes the top-ranked player’s hopes at Augusta this year.
The 23-year-old has quickly become a perennial power at Augusta. He followed up a second-place finish in 2014 with his first green jacket a year later. He led by five strokes last year with nine holes remaining before collapsing down the stretch.
Spieth’s nerves will be tested if he finds himself ahead come the weekend, but never count him out.
The world’s No. 2 player is looking to become the sixth golfer to complete the modern career Grand Slam.
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy has cracked the top 10 in each of his last three trips to Augusta. His best chance at a green jacket slipped away in 2011, when a four-shot lead evaporated. If he can stay consistent, McIlroy may be able to finally get the monkey off of his back.
The 22-year-old rookie from Spain is ranked 12th in the world after a strong start to 2017.
Hard-hitting Rahm has a win and four top-10 finishes under his belt already this year. Playing at the Masters for the first time may be a bit overwhelming, but Rahm has looked right at home competing against his more seasoned peers.