The brightest weekend of every golfer’s spring is finally upon us. It’s Masters week at Augusta National, where a field of the world’s top players will duke it out for the right to don the green jacket Sunday evening.
Here are three major storylines to follow as practice rounds get underway:
Will Jason Day play in the year’s first major?
The world No. 3 withdrew midway through his first round at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks ago and has yet to confirm if he’ll participate. His mother, Dening, just underwent successful surgery for lung cancer, but things are looking up for him to give it a go.
The Australian has performed well under pressure at Augusta before, finishing tied for second in 2011 and solo third in 2013. If he gives it a go, Day would be a favorite to join his countryman Adam Scott as only the second Aussie to win The Masters.
Can Dustin Johnson keep up this ridiculous streak?
The world No. 1 couldn’t ask for a better scenario to possibly capture his second career major championship. He’s won each of his last three tournament starts on the PGA Tour, adding two more WGC titles to his trophy case, and has the firepower to torch the Par 5s at Augusta National.
Johnson is a natural at making the golf ball do spectacular things, whether it’s his enormous, arcing drives or the much-improved confidence in his putting stroke. The 6-foot-4 Johnson can dunk a basketball in socks, giving him more than enough athleticism to bomb the towering draws that Augusta requires of its right-handed players.
Who will emerge from a crowded pack of contenders?
Whether it’s Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, last week’s Shell Houston Open winner Russell Henley, or rookie Jon Rahm, a large contingency of young guns are in great position to win their first major. If any of these five are going to follow in the footsteps of Jordan Spieth, who earned his first green jacket in 2015 at just 21, they’d be well suited to stick to what they do best and stay within themselves.
Though the young Texan saw how easily that confidence can slip away on Masters Sunday, dunking back-to-back balls in the water on the notorious par 3 12th to lose the lead last year, he does as good a job as anybody of trusting what works in his game. While Spieth could certainly redeem himself this weekend, I think Johnson continues his stellar form and brings home a fourth victory in a row.