Can Jordan Spieth win again at the Masters? Or is it top-ranked Jason Day’s turn? Here are five storylines for the Masters, which begins Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club:
Day has taken over as world No. 1 from Spieth, and comes to Augusta at the top of his game with recent back-to-back victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Match Play Championship. Day dealt with the vertigo problem that plagued him at last year’s U.S. Open and then won the PGA Championship. He’s a pretty clear favorite at Augusta, where his best finish is a tie for second in 2011.
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McIlroy arrived at Augusta in 2015 needing to win the Masters to complete a career grand slam. That didn’t happen (he finished fourth) and he went through 2015 without winning another major. Augusta has never been too good for McIlroy, however. He might have won in 2011 had it not been for a memorable Sunday back-nine meltdown.
Spieth’s 18-under 270 to win in 2015 tied Tiger Woods’ Masters four-day scoring record. His only victory this season came at the Tournament of Champions in January and he then went through a stretch of T21, cut, T17, T18 before finishing tied for ninth at the Match Play Championship. So he’s not exactly on a roll as he tries to win again.
Missing Tiger, Arnie
Woods made it official last week, announcing he won’t play the Masters because of his bad back. When he returns to regular Tour play to pursue Jack Nicklaus’ 18 career major victories is anybody’s guess. And Arnold Palmer won’t hit a ceremonial first drive Thursday morning along Nicklaus and Gary Player. Palmer, 86, has a bad shoulder, but says he will be there to watch.
Three-time champion Phil Mickelson hasn’t won since capturing the 2013 British Open. But he was second at Pebble Beach in February and fifth at the World Golf Championship a few weeks later. Lefty is playing well and could be a factor. And remember, he was second behind Spieth at Augusta in 2015.