While there are four golf majors every year, there is truly nothing quite like the Masters.
The person that finishes on top of the leaderboard is given a big check, a green jacket and a lifetime of respect. Once a competitor wins one title, he will always be referred to as a "Masters Champion."
Still, a wide-open field should create a thrilling battle for all four days. Here is a look at how to follow the first day of action and the top storylines to watch.
|Where||Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.|
|When||April 10 - 13|
|TV||ESPN||3 - 7:30 p.m.||Full Coverage|
|Live Stream||Masters.com||10:45 a.m. - 6 p.m.||Amen Corner|
|Live Stream||Masters.com||11 a.m. - 1 p.m.||Range|
|Live Stream||Masters.com||11:45 a.m. - 7 p.m.||Holes No. 15 and No. 16|
|Live Stream||Masters.com||12 - 7:30 p.m.||Featured Groups|
|Audio||Masters.com||2 p.m.||Masters Radio|
Redemption for Rory McIlroy
According to Vegas Insider, Rory McIlroy enters the Masters tied with Adam Scott as the favorite to win it all. Based on his hot start to 2014 and overall talent, this is not too far-fetched.
On the other hand, the 24-year-old golfer has not won a tournament since 2012 and has historically struggled at Augusta. He has never finished in the top 10 and suffered an epic collapse with a chance to win in 2011.
Still, McIlroy is ready to contend this time around. He shot a 65 in his final round at the Shell Houston Open to earn his third top 10 of the year, showing that he is peaking at the right time.
Jason Sobel of Golf Channel also picked McIlroy to win this tournament in his interview with Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe:
If he can find some consistency on a difficult course, there is nobody in the world who can match his talent. Four mistake-free days should help him win his third career major.
Past Winners in Contention
It is not easy to win multiple times at the Masters, but a few past winners head into the week as legitimate favorites to take home another title.
The first one to watch is Phil Mickelson, who has won three times in his career at Augusta. Since 1995, Lefty has 14 top-10 finishes in 19 starts.
He certainly has a lot of confidence heading into the week, via Kelly Tilghman of Golf Channel:
"I don't have to play perfect to play well here." - 3x Masters champion Phil Mickelson on Augusta National— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) April 8, 2014
At this point, his experience and ability to make adjustments should carry him at least near the top of the leaderboard.
Meanwhile, Adam Scott will look to defend his title after winning in dramatic fashion a year ago. Justin Ray of ESPN notes the past success in majors:
Can he repeat? Last 2 years, Adam Scott has 5 top-10's in majors. Per @EliasSports - nobody else has more than 4.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 9, 2014
Only three players have ever won back-to-back titles, but Scott has the skill to get it done.
Finally, do not overlook Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson or even Angel Cabrera from contending for their second titles.
Watch out for Rookies
Stepping into Augusta without much experience is a recipe for disaster. However, this year's class of newbies features a number of possible contenders.
There are 24 golfers making their first professional appearance at the 2014 Masters. Included in this field is Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old phenom who surprised many with his great all-around play last season.
The 2014 season has highlighted a number of other talented golfers like Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Harris English. These young competitors are currently ranked first, second and fourth in the FedEx Cup standings, respectively.
While the inexperience at majors would intimidate most people, Reed does not let it bother him, telling Tom Spousta of Masters.com:
It doesn’t matter if you’ve played here once or if you’ve played here 50 times. When it comes down to it, it’s just going to be one of those things that whoever is playing the best is going to walk away with the trophy.
Hideki Matsuyama is another name to keep an eye on after three strong performances at majors last year. He also made the cut at Augusta twice as an amateur.
Any of these rookies have a chance of contending for a title or at least grabbing a top-10 finish at the prestigious event.