Masters 2012: Latest News and Updates at Augusta

Nick HartCorrespondent IApril 4, 2012

Masters 2012: Latest News and Updates at Augusta

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    The 2012 Masters starts tomorrow, and there have been plenty of last-minute news and updates from Augusta, ranging from injuries to weather to group pairings.  

    I'll break down all of the news and analyze their possible effects on the tournament.  Additionally, I'll provide the contenders, as well as dark horse candidates, that have a shot at victory. 

Dustin Johnson

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    Dustin Johnson has been forced to withdraw from the Masters due to a tweaked back.  While Johnson has never seriously contended for a green jacket, he is a very capable player and his injury eliminates a potential dark horse contender.  As the Masters doesn't have an alternative list, the field is now at 96 members.

Weather Conditions

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    This week, the Masters has continually experienced rain, thunderstorms and fog, resulting in the opening of the gates for today's Par 3 Challenge being delayed.  While the weather is supposed to improve over the weekend, the moisture will have a drastic effect on the course.

    The greens will be much softer, which will allow for greater accuracy.  Additionally, the fairways will not produce as much bounce so golfers who rely on large bounces off of tee shots will be at a disadvantage.  This rain will definitely benefit accurate players and should help lower scores.  

Notable Pairings

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    Notable pairings from the first day of action include Tiger Woods beginning his tournament at 10:35 EDT, Rory McIlroy playing alongside past champion Angel Cabrera and Bubba Watson at 1:42 EDT, and Phil Mickelson teeing off at 1:53 EDT with Hunter Mahan.  

    All pairings and start times are available here

Contenders

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    As I outlined in a previous article regarding the favorites and additional predictions, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson are the favorites to win the 2012 Masters.  

    However, there are plenty of lesser known players who have the ability to contend.  Hunter Mahan has had a scorching start to the season, and certainly is capable of winning the tournament.  With the many of the recent champions being less-heralded players, it's certainly possible that the trend continues and a lesser-known player is in contention on Sunday. 

Martin Kaymer's Hole-in-One

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    Martin Kaymer holed out his tee shot on the sixteenth hole after skipping it across the water.  Granted, it took place in a practice round, but impressive none the less.