The 79th Masters kicks off at Augusta National Golf Club tomorrow and the major story coming into the week is can Rory Mcilroy win and complete the career grand slam?
Mcilroy is hoping to follow in the footsteps of golf’s greatest players and become just the sixth man in the Masters era to win all four of golf’s majors.
The Northern Irishman led by four going into the final round in 2011 before a disastrous final round of 80 saw him fall out of contention and finish 10 shots behind eventual winner Charl Schwartzel.
Mcilroy has won the last two majors including the third leg of his grand slam, the Open Championship in July.
The world number one is the bookmaker’s favourite to pick up the green jacket on Sunday evening. If he does then he will become the second youngest player ever to complete the grand slam behind Tiger Woods.
Reigning champion Bubba Watson will be hoping he can make a better defence of his title that in 2013 where he finished in a tie for 50th. Watson has admitted that he was distracted by everything that was going on during that first defence.
He said: “In 2013 I was a newcomer, I was still trying to find my feet. I was still trying to figure out, somehow, I’m Masters champion.
“Media attention is different because you’re defending champ”
Watson feels like he is more prepared for the challenge this week. He looked so comfortable when winning last year that it would not be a surprise if the big-hitting American became the first player to defend the Masters title since Tiger Woods in 2002.
J.B. Holmes has had a great 2015 so far including a win at last week’s Houston Open. Tiger Woods returns after two months away from the game. Phil Mickelson has shown glimpses of his best form in the past few weeks and Adam Scott is moving back to the long putter that helped him to win this event in 2013. One player stands out above all of these though – Jordan Spieth.
Mcilroy comes into the week ranked as the best player in the world, but there is no doubt that Spieth is the form player. Five top 10s in 6 starts coming into the first major of the year and a win and two seconds in his past three events have seen the 21-year-old rise to fourth in the rankings.
Spieth was the tied for the lead heading into last year’s final round but eventually finished as runner up to Bubba Watson. Since then he has won three times around the world and looks destined to win a major soon.
The American looks like the biggest threat to Mcilroy this week but there are so many players heading to Augusta in good form, this could be one of the most open Masters in a long time. Coverage of the Masters starts this evening with the par-3 contest.
The tournament gets underway tomorrow when Charley Hoffman leads off the field at 12.45pm.