The Masters is the signature event on the PGA Tour and the major that every player on the circuit seeks to win to etch his place in the history of the sport.
There are many intriguing storylines heading into the tournament as Patrick Reed seeks to defend his crown. Only three players in the history of the event have managed to win successive Green Jackets, and the odds are stacked against the American from achieving the feat.
Rory McIlroy has found his form in the early months of 2019 and will be looking to banish his past demons at Augusta once and for all.
Dustin Johnson has not lived up to his potential at the famous venue, either, and the American will be desperate to join his contemporaries by donning the Green Jacket. We’ll now break down the players to watch over the course of the four days of the tournament.
Will McIlroy banish his Augusta Demons?
McIlroy’s high-profile meltdown at The Masters in 2011 prevented him from claiming the Green Jacket. His attempts to claim the crown since then have fallen short, including last year, when he was unable to match Reed on the final round, carding a two-over round of 74. The occasion has got to the Northern Irishman and he has to find a way to hold his composure to get over the line.
McIlroy has been anointed as the favourite due to his impressive form since the turn of the year. He has finished in the top 10 of his last seven tournaments, including his triumph in The Players Championship. The 29-year-old is in prime form and will not have many better opportunities to clinch the only major that has evaded his clutches during his career to date. He can be backed at odds of +700 to overcome his Augusta problems.
Can Johnson unleash his potential?
Johnson has been one of the most frustrating players on the tour to watch at majors. He has the shots in his locker, boasting power that every man on the tour would love to have at their disposal. However, the 34-year-old only has the one major win under his belt, which came almost three years ago at the US Open. Pundits believed that when he finally got the triumph, the floodgates would open. It has not been the case, however, with Johnson finishing in the top five only once in his last seven majors.
He hit the headlines two years ago when he was ruled out of the tournament after falling down a flight of stairs on the eve of the opening round. Last year, he moved into contention on the second day, shifting within six strokes of the lead. However, Johnson did not have the magic round that he required to close the gap and had to settle for tied-10th overall. Johnson has won the Mexico Championship this term and looks to be in solid form. Backing him at odds of +1100 could be worth a punt on him ending his drought at Augusta.
Woods to the fore once again?
One of the most exciting aspects of golf over the last year has been Tiger Woods’ return to form. At the age of 43, Woods will attempt to win the Green Jacket for a fifth time. He has produced legendary performances at Augusta, including the first major of his career in 1997, when he won The Masters by a record-breaking 12 strokes. Due to a litany of injury problems, Woods has failed to win a major crown since the 2008 US Open.
However, he displayed life towards the end of last year when he recorded his best finish at a grand slam since his triumph 11 years ago. Woods placed in second in the PGA Championship – two strokes off the pace of winner Brooks Koepka. The 43-year-old has been solid on the tour in 2019 without being spectacular. His best finish of tied-10th at the Mexico Championship suggests that he is trending in the right direction. At odds of +1600, he could be an intriguing bet for the title.
Spieth has to snap out of his slump
Spieth has endured a terrible start to 2019, although he has always been outstanding when The Masters has come around in the past. In his five appearances at the event, he has finished in the top three on four occasions, including his triumph in 2015 when he matched Woods’ feat with an exceptional four days of golf, carding 270 over the four days of the competition. Given his current form, it would be a surprise to see him competing for the Green Jacket, although he is more than capable of rising to the occasion.
On the tour this term, Spieth has failed to finish in the top 10 of an event. The 25-year-old missed the cut at The Players Championship, while he failed to progress from the group stage of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. Spieth’s odds of +2000 to win the tournament highlight his troubles this term, given his previous form at Augusta.