Oh, the Masters Tournament.
After a few months of great play from the world's best golfers, the first major is officially upon us. And there's truly no better starting point than Augusta National.
Every year the tournament is wide open, but this year is a much more optimistic one for the field. Tiger Woods, the No. 1 golfer in the world, is out for the foreseeable future with a pinched nerve, leaving the door open for any number of top contenders to take the top prize.
Whether it's one of the favorites like Rory McIlroy or a dark-horse contender like Ryan Moore, who hopes to break the curse after winning the Par 3 Contest, there is a plethora of players for golf fans to root for in Augusta.
Here's a look at the Masters Tournament information and a breakdown of who could eventually win the first major of the year.
When: Thursday, April 10 through Sunday, April 13
Where: Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
FedEx Cup Points awarded to winner: 600
Purse: $8 million
Breakdown of Contenders
Following the loss of Woods, the obvious players next in line were clearly Rory McIlroy and last year's winner Adam Scott.
McIlroy is a two-time major winner, but hasn't taken one since 2012. But thanks to his recent play, including a huge 65 in the final round of the Shell Houston Open on Sunday, the 24-year-old appears to be on top of his game.
Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports believes McIlroy is hitting his stride at the right time:
Then there's Scott. After bursting onto the scene last year as a true star by donning the green jacket, the Australian golfer hopes to become just the fourth player to repeat at the Masters and the first since Woods did so in 2001-02.
What seems more terrifying for the field is that Scott sounds more comfortable with the course after the Eisenhower Tree was removed following an ice storm in Georgia, as Steve DiMeglio of USA Today reports:
It looks good to me. It’s a little more open. It’s a nice look off the tee. It’s still a narrow fairway, especially where the driver finishes. It’s still a very demanding hole at the end of the round. We won’t know how it will play until we get the statistics, but it does look better off the tee, there is a little more room, but it’s still a very, very demanding hole.
Along with McIlroy and Scott, a handful of other players like Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson are all among the others with good odds to be at the top of the leaderboard.
As for some of the others, the aforementioned streak Moore hopes to break is one that has lasted as long as the Par 3 Contest itself, as SportsCenter points out:
Is Moore the golfer to finally break the streak? Can McIlroy win his first major after not taking one last season? Will Scott add his name to the list of repeat Masters winners?
With the Masters tournament teeing off on Thursday, all of those questions will finally be answered over the next four days. Happy golfing.
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