In no other sport is a lone piece of clothing so coveted. Ninety-seven golfers have descended upon Augusta National Golf Club all in pursuit of a green jacket.
Starting off with the Masters as the first major of the year is rather appropriate, as no other tournament is arguably as important. The number of green jackets a golfer has won is often a measurement as to his overall legacy.
Will a current star boost his extraordinary resume, or will the 2014 Masters serve as the greatest accomplishment for an otherwise unspectacular career?
The first two rounds will help to trim the herd and separate the pretenders from the contenders.
When: Thursday, April 9, at 3 p.m.
Where: Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.
|7:45 a.m.||Stewart Cink||Tim Clark|
|7:56 a.m.||Ian Woosnam||John Huh||Kevin Stadler|
|8:07 a.m.||Ben Crenshaw||Y.E. Yang||Jonas Blixt|
|8:18 a.m.||Mark O'Meara||Steven Bowditch||Jordan Niebrugge|
|8:29 a.m.||John Senden||Boo Weekley||David Lynn|
|8:40 a.m.||Craig Stadler||Scott Stallings||Martin Kaymer|
|8:51 a.m.||Tom Watson||Billy Horschel||Brendon de Jonge|
|9:02 a.m.||Mike Weir||Matt Every||Roberto Castro|
|9:13 a.m.||Angel Cabrera||Gary Woodland||Ian Poulter|
|9:24 a.m.||Fred Couples||Webb Simpson||Chang-woo Lee|
|9:35 a.m.||Graeme McDowell||Rickie Fowler||Jimmy Walker|
|9:57 a.m.||Zach Johnson||K.J. Choi||Steve Stricker|
|10:08 a.m.||Miguel Angel Jimenez||Bill Haas||Matteo Manassero|
|10:19 a.m.||Hideki Matsuyama||Brandt Snedeker||Jamie Donaldson|
|10:30 a.m.||Charl Schwartzel||Jim Furyk||Thorbjorn Olesen|
|10:41 a.m.||Adam Scott||Jason Dufner||Matthew Fitzpatrick|
|10:52 a.m.||Jordan Spieth||Patrick Reed||Rory McIlroy|
|11:03 a.m.||Kevin Streelman||D.A. Points|
|11:14 a.m.||Larry Mize||Branden Grace||Michael McCoy|
|11:25 a.m.||Sandy Lyle||Matt Jones||Ken Duke|
|11:36 a.m.||Jose Maria Olazabal||Lucas Glover||Garrick Porteous|
|11:47 a.m.||Nick Watney||Stephen Gallacher||Darren Clarke|
|12:09 p.m.||Vijay Singh||Thomas Bjorn||Ryan Moore|
|12:20 p.m.||Matt Kuchar||Louis Oosthuizen||Thongchai Jaidee|
|12:31 p.m.||Trevor Immelman||Graham DeLaet||Oliver Goss|
|12:42 p.m.||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano||Derek Ernst||Sang-moon Bae|
|12:53 p.m.||Bernhard Langer||Francesco Molinari||Chris Kirk|
|1:04 p.m.||Jason Day||Dustin Johnson||Henrik Stenson|
|1:15 p.m.||Bubba Watson||Luke Donald||Sergio Garcia|
|1:26 p.m.||Joost Luiten||Marc Leishman||Hunter Mahan|
|1:37 p.m.||Keegan Bradley||Victor Dubuisson||Peter Hanson|
|1:48 p.m.||Phil Mickelson||Ernie Els||Justin Rose|
|1:59 p.m.||Harris English||Lee Westwood||Russell Henley|
|7:45 a.m.||Kevin Streelman||D.A. Points|
|7:56 a.m.||Larry Mize||Branden Grace||Michael McCoy|
|8:07 a.m.||Sandy Lyle||Matt Jones||Ken Duke|
|8:18 a.m.||Jose Maria Olazabal||Lucas Glover||Garrick Porteous|
|8:29 a.m.||Nick Watney||Stephen Gallacher||Darren Clarke|
|8:40 a.m.||Vijay Singh||Thomas Bjorn||Ryan Moore|
|8:51 a.m.||Matt Kuchar||Louis Oosthuizen||Thongchai Jaidee|
|9:02 a.m.||Trevor Immelman||Graham DeLaet||Oliver Goss|
|9:13 a.m.||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano||Derek Ernst||Sang-moon Bae|
|9:24 a.m.||Bernhard Langer||Francesco Molinari||Chris Kirk|
|9:35 a.m.||Jason Day||Dustin Johnson||Henrik Stenson|
|9:57 a.m.||Bubba Watson||Luke Donald||Sergio Garcia|
|10:08 a.m.||Joost Luiten||Marc Leishman||Hunter Mahan|
|10:19 a.m.||Keegan Bradley||Victor Dubuisson||Peter Hanson|
|10:30 a.m.||Phil Mickelson||Ernie Els||Justin Rose|
|10:41 a.m.||Harris English||Lee Westwood||Russell Henley|
|10:52 a.m.||Stewart Cink||Tim Clark|
|11:03 a.m.||Ian Woosnam||John Huh||Kevin Stadler|
|11:14 a.m.||Ben Crenshaw||Y.E. Yang||Jonas Blixt|
|11:25 a.m.||Mark O'Meara||Steven Bowditch||Jordan Niebrugge|
|11:36 a.m.||John Senden||Boo Weekley||David Lynn|
|11:47 a.m.||Craig Stadler||Scott Stallings||Martin Kaymer|
|12:09 p.m.||Tom Watson||Billy Horschel||Brendon de Jonge|
|12:20 p.m.||Mike Weir||Matt Every||Roberto Castro|
|12:31 p.m.||Angel Cabrera||Gary Woodland||Ian Poulter|
|12:42 p.m.||Fred Couples||Webb Simpson||Chang-woo Lee|
|12:53 p.m.||Graeme McDowell||Rickie Fowler||Jimmy Walker|
|1:04 p.m.||Zach Johnson||K.J. Choi||Steve Stricker|
|1:15 p.m.||Miguel Angel Jimenez||Bill Haas||Matteo Manassero|
|1:26 p.m.||Hideki Matsuyama||Brandt Snedeker||Jamie Donaldson|
|1:37 p.m.||Charl Schwartzel||Jim Furyk||Thorbjorn Olesen|
|1:48 p.m.||Adam Scott||Jason Dufner||Matthew Fitzpatrick|
|1:59 p.m.||Jordan Spieth||Patrick Reed||Rory McIlroy|
Groupings to Watch
Adam Scott, Jason Dufner and Matthew Fitzpatrick
Matthew Fitzpatrick is getting a bit of a treat. The 19-year-old amateur not only gets to play at Augusta, but he's also in the same group as the reigning Masters champion and the 2013 PGA Championship winner.
Adam Scott opens up as one of the favorites to win this weekend. He's obviously done it before, and his performance this year—three top 10s in five tournaments—is encouraging regarding his repeat bid.
Rather than being a noose around his neck, a Masters defense is something the 33-year-old is looking forward to, per Michael Whitmer of The Boston Globe:
“It’s been an incredible experience being the Masters champion, and it’s something I’ll be trying to do again, for sure. To have that green jacket hanging in your closet is worth any bit of extra stuff you might have to deal with in your professional world,” Scott said. “Coming back to defend is going to be an incredible experience, like everything has been since last April.”
Scott will no doubt want to get off to a great start at Augusta. He won't want the added pressure of climbing out of an early hole along with what is already the gargantuan task of winning back-to-back tournaments.
Bubba Watson, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia
Not much more can be added to the discussion about Sergio Garcia's performance at major tournaments. Only two active golfers have more starts without recording a win, per the PGA Tour:
Most active major starts without a victory: Lee Westwood (63), Miguel Angel Jimenez(62), Sergio Garcia (61), Steve Stricker (60) #pgatour— PGA TOUR Media (@PGATOURmedia) April 8, 2014
Maybe this is the tournament where Garcia breaks his major duck but don't count on it. Last year's eighth-place finish was his first top 10 at Augusta since 2004.
Watching Garcia is a win-win. Either he plays really well and puts himself in a position to possibly win, which would be cool, or he completely implodes, and that's just as fun.
It will also be interesting to see how Bubba Watson performs. Aside from his win in 2012, his average finish at Augusta is 37.5. Maybe Watson can repeat some of his Masters magic from a few years ago and put together a great finish.
Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy
GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel unearthed an interesting stat about this group:
Grouping of Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth is combined only three years older than Tom Watson, the oldest player in the field.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) April 8, 2014
Man, Tom Watson must feel old.
Like Scott, Rory McIlroy enters Augusta as one of the big favorites. The field is pretty open right now, leaving McIlroy a golden opportunity to conquer his Masters demons. That collapse in 2011 still weighs heavily on the 24-year-old's career:
"That's probably the only time I've cried over golf... the morning after (the Masters) in 2011." - Rory McIlroy #PGATOUR— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 8, 2014
Speaking ahead of the tournament, McIlroy admitted that everything is in place for him to take home a green jacket, per Sky Sports:
"Mind, body, equipment, it's all there. There's no excuses," said McIlroy. "There's no excuses if I don't play well this week.
"Everything's in the right place to allow me to play well so it's just a matter of managing my expectations, not getting ahead of myself, not thinking about Sunday when it's Friday afternoon.
"Just really keeping myself in the present and in the moment and trying to take it one shot at a time and hopefully those shots add up to about 270 and I walk away with a green jacket."
The first two rounds aren't generally too noteworthy for McIlroy. It's when the weekend rolls around that the wheels start falling off.
Perhaps a strong start on Thursday and Friday can spur the two-time major winner on, though and help him cross off what is the No. 1 task on his career checklist.