We take a look at this years 10 biggest storylines on the eve of the 2016 Masters.
1.Who will be this year’s breakout star?
Major Championships tend to bring out the best among golfers and there is always someone who rises above the rest. These players don’t always win the tournament, but they let the rest of the golf world know that they are here to stay. Last year it was Jordan Spieth and this year could be Rickie Fowler or Dustin Johnson. Both of those players have multiple professional wins, but only major championships really give a player the ability to break out above the rest.
The Masters provides players a perfect platform to catapult themselves into stardom, mainly because it is the most popular golf tournament of the year.
2.The first major with the anchored putting ban
2016 marked a new rule in golf: the banning of being able to use anchored putters. This ban was put in place because some thought it was cheating to be able to anchor the putter to your chest and basically use it as a pendulum. Players like Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley both won major championships with anchored putters and they are a couple of players to keep an eye on this week.
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3.Rory McIlroy has a chance to complete the Grand Slam
Augusta has been the one major that Rory McIlroy has yet to tame. His notorious triple-bogey on the 10th hole in 2011 will be his defining moment at the Masters until he finally wins a Green Jacket. Augusta is set up perfectly for McIlroy because of his right to left ball flight, which most of the holes require at Augusta National, and he loves this tournament.
4.Can Phil win his 4th Masters?
Phil Mickelson is on the “back nine” of his career and his chances of winning another major are looking slimmer based on his recent results. That’s without mentioning how deep the field is this week at the Masters even with the smallest number (89) of participants since 2002. Mickelson has a love affair with Augusta and he always seems to conjure up something that we have never seen before. Remember the shot on 13 in 2010?
5.Is Jordan Spieth for real?
Jordan Spieth is no question a talented player, but is he the real deal? He had an unbelievable run last year that netted him two majors and the FedEx Cup, but was that just a hot streak? He won again to start the year Hawaii, but he hasn’t played too well since and I think it’s a legitimate question whether he is for real or not. A win for Spieth would surely cement him as one of the best in the world and launch him into a career that could end with being one of the best of all time.
6.The best players on the planet are at their best
The 2016 Masters has had one of the most exciting build-ups to it that I can remember in the past 5 or 6 years. One of the main reasons for this is because all of the top players in the world are playing so well right now. Most major championships are either won by the favorite or someone who has the best week of their life and they come out of nowhere to grab the win. The combination of such a deep field and the level of play makes for an exciting weekend.
7.Tiger Woods isn’t playing
You can’t talk Masters week without mentioning Tiger Woods. He announced last week that he wouldn’t be participating in the Masters this year to continue his rehab. Golf is in a great place right now without Tiger because of the great players and great people who are moving the game forward, but Tiger was the one who started it all. Tiger brought people to the game who would never even think about watching golf on tv and I don’t think we have that right now.
8.Tom Watson’s final Masters
Tom Watson will be playing in his 43rd and final Masters Tournament. The two time Masters champion has had some memorable moments at Augusta that I am too young to remember, but watching the respect that people give him around the grounds can tell you a lot about what he means to this tournament and the game. When asked what his goals were for the week, Watson said, “I just wan’t to make the cut.”
9.Will Dustin Johnson finally win a major?
D.J. has come so close to winning a few times over his career and everyone is waiting for him to finally get over the hump. From his epic run in with a bunker in 2010 at Whistling Straits to his collapse at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open, D.J. is looking for that special moment. Johnson is in great form right now and comes to Augusta as one of the big time favorites.
10.Which golfer would provide the worst storyline if they won?
It has happened throughout the history of major championship golf where a player would come out of nowhere to win a major and completely drop out of public view. Names that come to mind most recently are Lucas Glover (2009 U.S. Open), Michael Campbell (2005 U.S. Open), and Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA Championship) just to name a few. So who might steal the show this week?