Eight months after the last putt of the 2016 PGA Championship, the 2017 tour has finally arrived.
The Masters Tournament, golf’s most iconic event, kicks off Thursday morning as more than 100 of the world’s best players compete for a chance win the green jacket. Before the first groups tee-off at Augusta National, here are three things to watch for this tournament:
Can Jordan Spieth redeem himself following his collapse in 2016?
After becoming the second youngest player to win the Masters in 2015, Jordan Spieth emerged as one of the sport’s most polarizing figures. Now in the hunt for his third major championship, the 23-year-old Texas native hopes to rebound after a disappointing campaign last year. Holding a five-stroke lead going into the back nine of the final round, Spieth suffered one of the worst collapses in Masters history. A quadruple-bogey on the 12th hole lost Spieth his lead, giving Danny Willet the opportunity to win his first major championship. Although he would not find himself at the top of any more scorecards in 2016, Spieth hopes his history of success in Augusta will reinstate him into the upper echelon of world golf.
Will Rory McIlroy finally complete the grand slam?
A grand slam, one of golf’s most impressive feats, is the title awarded to a golfer who has won each of the four major championships. Rory McIlroy, after winning the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, is missing only an elusive win at the Masters to earn a grand slam of his own. McIlroy, who finished in the top 10 of the last three Masters tournaments, is once again a frontrunner for this year’s green jacket. A win at this year’s Masters would make McIlroy one of only six golfers in history to complete the grand slam. McIlroy, however, has not won a major championship since 2014. And with rising stars like Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson earning most of the headlines, McIlroy has slowly moved out of the spotlight. Completing the grand slam with a victory this weekend in Augusta won’t just catch the nation’s eye but will certainly cement McIlroy’s spot amongst golf’s greatest athletes.
Can Phil Mickelson win his fourth green jacket?
Phil Mickelson, at the age of 46, has a chance to make history at the Masters this year. With a fourth victory in Augusta this week, Mickelson would tie such legends as Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods for the second most green jackets ever, behind only Jack Nicklaus with six. If Mickelson manages to out drive, chip and put his competition, he would also tie Nicklaus as the oldest player to win a green jacket. After missing the cut for the 2016 Masters Tournament, a strong start Thursday morning would do wonders for the veteran golfer. Another major championship would elevate Mickelson’s total to six, placing him just outside the top 10 golfers in history. As his career begins to slowly wind down, Mickelson has a chance to prove to the world that age is just a number.