The last major of a very different looking 2020 PGA golf season, Masters week is officially upon us. Moved to November due to the Covid-19 pandemic for the first time in the tournaments 84 year history, fans will remain unwelcome on the grounds at Augusta National throughout the weekend. With steady rain and winds expected all week in Georgia, look for the games longer hitters to hold an advantage on the 7200-yard golf course. Tiger Woods received his fifth green jacket a year ago in an all-time back nine march and a champion will once again be crowned after months of uncertainty. Following a 17 month wait, here are five names to watch at the Masters.
Five Names to Watch at The Masters
The longest hitter on tour and a winner at the US Open in September, Dechambeau is the odds on favorite to win the green jacket. Averaging over 322 yards off the tee this season, the 27-year-old has cracked seven top tens with an eighth-place finish at his last outing during the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in October. Never registering much success at Augusta over the past few years, a tie for 21st in 2016 is the highest finish for Bryson over his young career. However, after transforming his body and his game, a longer carry off the tee will allow him to take advantage of the wide fairways while being able to blow past many of the bunkers present on the course.
After one of the best stretches of golf in recent memory, culminating in PGA player of the year honors, Johnson missed the past few weeks due to a positive Covid-19 test. Able to shake off the rust at the Houston Open last weekend, the current world number one kicked off the first round of the tournament with a two-over 72. Rattling off consecutive rounds of 66 followed by a final round 65 to finish in a tie for second, DJ looked sharp off the tee and with his putter, putting him in prime position to capture his second major title this weekend. Finishing in a tie for the runner-up spot to Tiger Woods a year ago after a missed putt on 18, the 36-year-old is the third member of our five names to watch at the masters list.
Still searching for the elusive career grand slam with wins already at both open championships along with the PGA championship, Mcilroy has four top-ten finishes at Augusta in his last five visits. A powerful ball-striker like Dechambeau and Johnson, rainy weather, and a fall atmosphere present at the tournament should benefit the former world number one. Currently ranked second on tour in strokes gained off the tee, where Mcilroy will need to improve if he hopes to capture the green jacket will be on his approach shots and with his putter. Only 176th in the world for his iron play, his 68th rank in putting strokes gained will make or break the championship for him.
The reigning Masters champion and a five-time green jacket winner will have eyes on him all week. Looking to recapture his form from a year ago, the 15-time major winner has struggled since the PGA returned from their hiatus. Woods most recently finished in a tie for 72nd at the Zozo championship in October after capturing the title in 2019. Working on hitting a high draw in tune-up rounds, a shot that has been labelled the key to success to attack the course at Augusta National, the 44-year-old also knows the ins and outs of each hole better than anyone. Woods is paired in a group with Shane Lowry and amateur Andy Ogletree. His hunt for masters victory number six begins Thursday morning.
A rising star and a rookie at Augusta, Wolff will look to join Fuzzy Zoeller and Gene Sarazen as the only first time players to win the tournament. Nearly capturing two major championship victories earlier on in the season, Wolff shot a 65 in the final round of the PGA Championship to take the outright lead before being leapfrogged by the eventual winner Collin Morikawa. Likewise, the 21-year-old held the lead at the US Open through three rounds before losing heartbreakingly to Bryson Dechambeau. Looking to continue his solid stretch of play this season, the Oklahoma State Cowboy alumn is no stranger to the big moment, making him the last of our five names to watch at the Masters.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images