Taking a look at the 76th Masters, which begins Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club:
- Can Tiger Woods win his fifth green jacket?
It’s been seven years since Woods last won the Masters, beating Chris DiMarco in a playoff. He hasn’t won a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. But with his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week ago, Woods confirmed his return to prominence. He’s been stuck on 14 major championships for a long time.
- Will Rory McIlroy get redemption?
For three days last April, Rory McIlroy was borderline magnificent at the Masters. Then came Sunday and a final-round 80 that included his playing a shot from beside a cabin on the 10th hole and four-putting the 12th green. Two months later, he vanquished the field at the U.S. Open and now he’s trading the No. 1 spot in the world with Luke Donald. Many believe this is his week.
- Will there be a new major champion?
Donald and Lee Westwood are first and third, respectively, in the world rankings but neither has won a major. Westwood has played in 12 Masters but managed only two top-10 finishes, which might speak to his putting more than anything. Donald has three top-10s in seven Masters appearances including a third-place in 2005. He’s nothing if not steady. And then there’s Steve Stricker. His track record at Augusta isn’t very good – five missed cuts in 11 starts – but if it’s about putting, it’s hard to leave him out of the discussion.
- Beyond the obvious
Once you get past the favorites, who might be able to come in like Charl Schwartzel last year and win the green jacket?
Justin Rose looks ready to win a major. Same for Hunter Mahan. Keegan Bradley keeps hanging around leader boards. And what if Bubba Watson is in the hunt on Sunday afternoon?