by LIAM RICHNER
It’s that time of the year again. The first golfing major of the year is just around the corner and it’s arguably the best of the lot.
Augusta is the most beautiful setting on the calendar, with it’s streams, rich greens and freshly cut fairways.
With a prize so unique, every professional golfer’s dream is to win a green jacket. It’s something they can hang up in their wardrobe or frame and put on their wall.
With the sport at it’s most competitive, this could be the closest Masters tournament to date. But who is among those we expect to be there or there about come the final session on April 10th.
World number one Jason Day is the clear favourite following his impressive victory at the WGC-Dunhill Matchplay.
It was the Australian’s second event win in as many weeks. With his putting on point, and his form sizzling hot, someone is going to have to play the tournament of their life if they are to stop Day from claiming his second major.
The one man everyone will expect big from is last year’s winner Jordan Spieth. The American pretty much owned the sport during the first half of 2015 after winning both the Masters and US Open.
His form is worrying though. After a second round defeat to Louis Oosthuizen in the Matchplay, it’s now been three months since the 22-year old last won a PGA event, the Hyundai Tournament. That was also the last time he has finished an event in the top 10 this year.
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy will look to avenge his semi-final defeat in the Matchplay to Day with a first Masters win.
The 26-year old has found the tournament elusive so far. Who can forget his infamous collapse at the 2011 edition? That could be a haunting memory for the former world number one.
The former US Open, Open and USPGA champion has revealed that he will miss the Par 3 contest in Augusta so he can focus on winning the green jacket, and thereby completing the Grand Slam.
2013 winner Adam Scott is, very much like his Australian partner in crime Day, in tantalising form going into the Masters next weekend.
The 35-year old has already won two PGA events this year, and as a result rose from ninth to sixth in the world rankings.
What makes his form even more impressive is the fact he has had to change to the short putter in order to adhere to the ban on the longer versions. With many expecting him to struggle on the greens due to the fact he would need to adjust his putting technique, it was impressive to see him sinking putts with ease.
Similarly to Scott, 2-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson is also set up to have another solid performance at Augusta.
The Master’s course suits Watson’s game to a tee (no pun intended). His ability to hit a ball 320-yards down the fairway and putt on quick greens plays right into the American’s hands.
His only tournament win of the year came at Riviera, and the last time he won there, he went on to win his second green jacket.
Forget the players in-form like Day and Scott, forget the players with recent success in Spieth, if a course favours your style of play, then you’re going to be the one to beat.
Other golfers worth a mention include Matchplay finalist Louis Oosthuizen, 2015 surprise package Hideki Matsuyama, and last year’s Open winner Zach Johnson.
Like mentioned above, this is one of the toughest Masters Tournaments to call in terms of singling out a winner, all we know is that it’s going to be one hell of a weekend.
*The Masters begins on Thursday 7th April and concludes Sunday 10th April 2016.