The first major of the year is here. The best players in the world come to Augusta National Golf Club this week in search of the Green Jacket. There are plenty of storylines this week as DJ comes in a 3 tournament win streak, Tiger will miss another tournament, Jason Day will be battling his emotions as his mom is fighting cancer, and Spieth returns to the place where it all went wrong last year. This should be an exciting week for golf fans and I can’t wait to see who will be wearing the Green Jacket come Sunday night.
Augusta National Golf Club is one of the premier courses in the world. Played every year, the course never ages or seems to get old and it offers some the greatest excitement in all of golf. For a more in depth look and hole-by-hole guide, check out my previous article here. Playing at 7,435 yards with undulating, glassy greens, it is one of the most challenging courses the pros will play.
Par 3 Contest:
The Par 3 contest is one of the many traditions that comes with Master’s week. The nine hole tournament takes place on Wednesday afternoon and is usually one of the most memorable times for players, caddies, and their families and friends. We see kids, fathers, mothers and even celebrities serve as caddies. And of course, there are plenty of opportunities for the hole-in-one. Below are Jack Nicklaus’ hole-in-one from a couple years ago and Bubba Watson’s son, Caleb, teeing off with his own pink driver.
I think that the final score will be around -10. The weather should be a little cold and windy on Thursday and Friday but Saturday and Sunday should be perfect. The average score is about -9 under.
ESPN will cover the Par 3 contest on Wednesday from 3-5. Rounds 1 and 2 will be on Thursday and Friday from 3:00pm to 7:30pm. CBS will have Rounds 3 and 4 on from 3:00pm to 7:00 pm on Saturday and then 2:00pm to 7:00pm. The Master’s website will live stream holes 15 and 16 and featured groups throughout the week.
Below are some notable groupings for the first two rounds (Times are for their rounds on Thursday):
Winner: Jordan Spieth
- Spieth will get his shot at redemption and take home a second Green Jacket. He hasn’t finished worse than second at Augusta and he can tame the greens with his putting. His ball striking has improved since struggling late last year but ranks 1st in Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green through the first quarter of the season.
Sleeper: Alex Noren
- Quietly the 10th ranked golfer in the world has put together quite the season. He remains relatively unknown to most fans. He is great with his irons and his improved short game should help him around the tough greens.
Top 5 (in order): Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel , Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas.
- Can’t bet against DJ finishing anywhere outside of the Top 5. He has a T-4th and a T-6th in his last two appearances at Augusta National. Schwartzel is a former champion who is playing well as of late. I think Thomas is due to break through in a major and I think he will play a factor on the weekend.
Surprise: Two amateurs will make the cut and amateur will finish in the top 25. Brad Dalke, Curtis Luck and Scott Gregory all have chances to have good weeks.
- Jason Day will be playing with plenty of emotion this week. His mother just under went surgery to treat her cancer. He has previously withdrawn from the WGC Dell Match Play to be with her after he held an emotional press conference in Austin. The question this week will be if he can focus fully on his game. We are all pulling for you this week Jason.
- This is the first Master’s in a long time without “The King”, Arnold Palmer. The Par 3 contest and ceremonial first tee shot won’t be the same.
- Dustin looks to make it four wins in a row. He has won his previous 3 tournaments including two World Golf Championships. All eyes will be on DJ as he looks for his second major and his first Green Jacket.
- A storyline that flown under the radar is Rory’s quest for the career grand slam. This is a feat only 5 other golfers have accomplished. In his previous two attempts at the Career Grand Slam, he has finished 4th and tied-10th.