When the finest golfers in the world tee off at Augusta National Golf Club this week, the Masters will appear, to a big diploma, like the Masters once more. The azaleas needs to be blooming, and there might be followers, if solely a restricted quantity, on the grounds.
That was not the case in 2020. Because of the pandemic, the event was held in November as a substitute of its conventional spot in April, and it was performed with out the boisterous galleries.
Dustin Johnson, the top-ranked participant in the world, won by 5 strokes with a file rating of 20-under 268. Tiger Woods, the 2019 champion, tied for 38th. Woods received’t be taking part in at the Masters. He is recovering from injuries from a February automobile accident in California.
Johnson, vying for his third main title, might be one in every of the favorites, together with Justin Thomas (No. 2) and Jon Rahm (No. 3).
Here are 5 different gamers to control.
There doesn’t appear to be a golf course that may neutralize DeChambeau’s distance off the tee. He’s averaging 320.eight yards, the finest on the PGA Tour.
It will serve him effectively at Augusta National. He ought to have the option to simply attain the greens in two pictures on the par-5s, which give the finest scoring alternatives. His energy isn’t the solely spectacular a part of his game. DeChambeau, ranked No. 5, has been ready to make lots of essential putts.
Before final yr’s United States Open at Winged Foot, it wasn’t sure whether or not the means he deliberate to assault the course would repay; the fairways had been slim and the tough was thick.
No drawback. DeChambeau, 27, won by six strokes and was the solely participant to end beneath par.
DeChambeau hasn’t had a lot success in his earlier 4 appearances at Augusta. His finest end was a tie for 21st in 2016, simply earlier than he turned professional.
Sooner or later, Finau, 31, goes to break by way of on the huge stage. Augusta National might be the place.
Finau, too, hits the ball a great distance. He is 15th on the tour in birdies and 11th in eagles. The course appears to go well with him effectively. In his three begins, he has two high 10 finishes, together with in 2019 when he tied for fifth, two pictures behind Woods.
Since 2017, Finau, ranked No. 13 in the world, has recorded 37 high 10s and not using a victory. His lone triumph got here at the Puerto Rico Open in 2016.
He got here shut to his second victory in January and February. He completed second in the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Invitational. He shot a final-round 64 at the Genesis, however misplaced in a playoff to Max Homa.
Finau has performed effectively in the majors. In his final 11 appearances, he has recorded seven high 10s.
Cantlay, 29, appears to at all times be in the hunt. In his final 10 begins, he has completed in the high 20 eight occasions. The solely hiccup was a missed lower at final month’s Players Championship.
Like Finau, he makes lots of birdies. Heading into the Masters, he ranks fourth on the PGA Tour this season, with 4.68 birdies per spherical. He’s 13th in scoring common at simply over 70.
Cantlay played extraordinarily effectively at the current World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play event. In his first two matches towards Brian Harman and Carlos Ortiz, Cantlay recorded 14 birdies and an eagle. He failed to make it to the spherical of 16, dropping in a playoff to Harman.
Ranked No. 10, Cantlay trailed by solely a shot heading into the closing two rounds of the 2020 Masters. He light over the weekend to find yourself in a tie for 17th. In 2019, he tied for ninth.
Until just lately, it might have been a stretch to recommend that Spieth, 27, can be an element at Augusta National. He hadn’t received a event in additional than three years. Before 2018, he received 11 occasions, together with three majors.
The drought is over. Spieth captured the Valero Texas Open on Sunday by two strokes over Charley Hoffman. It was his first victory since the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Spieth has performed very effectively since February. He posted high 10 finishes in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Arnold Palmer Invitational. The solely detrimental was that he didn’t carry out effectively sufficient on Sundays. That wasn’t the case in Texas. He shot a 66 in the closing spherical.
What’s necessary, as at all times at the Masters, might be the potential to negotiate the treacherous greens. Spieth has dealt with the problem effectively.
His file in the event has been excellent. He received the 2015 Masters with a rating of 18-under 270. He has completed in the high three on three different events, together with in 2014 when he was solely 20.
In his final two begins — at the Players Championship and the Dell match play event — Garcia, 41, flashed a few of the magic that has made him such a dynamic participant for greater than twenty years.
In the Players, he shot a 65 in the first spherical and was nonetheless in the hunt in the closing spherical till he light and tied for ninth. At the match play event, he made it to the quarterfinals earlier than dropping to Victor Perez.
His strolling off with a second inexperienced jacket — he received the 2017 Masters, his solely main title — nonetheless looks as if an extended shot, however his current play makes him a extra viable contender. He remains to be an excellent ball striker. The problem for him, as traditional, might be to make sufficient essential putts.