For golf fans all over the globe, the first major of the year is also the most compelling and exciting. Last year, Sergio Garcia broke through for his first major championship, defeating Justin Rose in a playoff. With so many great storylines in the making leading into the Masters, this year’s edition could be the best ever.
With every Masters champ receiving a lifetime exemption, the field has the most diverse age range of any tournament in the world. The oldest champion in the field this year is the 1998 winner Mark O’Meara, at age 61. He will be joined by two other past champions in their 60s: Ian Woosnam (1991 winner) and Sandy Lyle (1988 winner).
On the flip side, with so many amateur champions earning invites into the field, the youngest participant this year is the 17-year-old Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion Lin Yuxin makes his Masters debut. The youngest pro in the field is 21-year-old India native Shubhankar Sharma, who is also leading the European Tour Race to Dubai standings. The Masters sets itself apart as a special golf tournament with its wide array of countries and generations present.
Of all the past champions in the field this year, the biggest focus will be on four-time Masters Champion Tiger Woods. Woods hasn’t played in the event since 2015 and, despite his impeccable record at Augusta, hasn’t donned the green jacket since 2005. With his solid results early in the season, the focus will be on if Tiger can get back to his major championship-winning ways this week.
Players to Watch
Rory McIlroy: If Tiger is the biggest story in this year’s Masters, Rory is a close second. One of only three active players looking to complete the career Grand Slam (Mickelson and Spieth), the green jacket is the only leg he’s missing. With his brilliant display of putting in his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory can become the sixth player in history to accomplish one of the most difficult feats in sports.
Jason Day: With the exception of a WD in 2012, J Day has done everything but win the Masters, with three top-10s, including a 2nd and a 3rd. If he can make some putts this week, don’t be surprised to see him in the hunt on the back 9 on Sunday.
Bubba Watson: After a long winless drought, Bubba now has two wins in his last four starts. His supreme shot-making suits Augusta National well, which is evident in his two wins (2012, 2014). His recent play makes him a strong favorite to add a third victory this season along with his 3rd green jacket.
Augusta National Golf Club is the only host site the Masters has ever used. A joint-venture between Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, what was once a plant nursery has become one of the most famous golf courses in all of golf.
It should be an exciting event!