Back for a second try
Macon’s Russell Henley is set for his second appearance in the Masters. He missed the cut last year at Augusta National Golf Club but is playing well entering this week. Last month, he won the Honda Classic, which features a strong field, and he finished in the top 10 last week at the Houston Open.
Henley-English together again
Henley should feel comfortable with his playing partners in the first two rounds. He will play with former Georgia teammate (and roommate) Harris English, along with Lee Westwood. They will tee off at 1:59 p.m. on Thursday in the final group of the first round and at 10:41 a.m. on Friday in the second round.
McIlroy the man?
Rory McIlroy appears to be the clear favorite entering the tournament. The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland has two major championships to his credit, but he is still chasing his first Masters win after giving away the title during the final nine holes in 2011. He has made the cut in four of his five appearances with a best finish of 15th in 2011.
Joining the club
Only three players – Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02) have won the Masters in consecutive years. Adam Scott, who is ranked second in the world, has a chance to get into that elite group after earning his first major championship at last year’s Masters, and he is one of the favorites this week.
Henley is just one of the young Americans breaking onto the scene in the golf world. English is another, along with Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth. All four of those players have PGA Tour wins (Spieth is the only one without multiple victories), and all four rank in the top 43 in the World Golf Ranking (Henley is 43rd).
McIlroy, Spieth and Reed will play together in the first two rounds, a dynamic group of young talent to focus on those two days. They tee off at 10:52 a.m. on Thursday and 1:59 p.m. on Thursday.
Phil Mickelson has won three Masters titles, and five majors overall, but the first one came 10 years ago when Mickelson broke through after years of close calls. He made a birdie on the final hole to avoid a playoff in one of the most popular wins at Augusta National and one of the most famous scenes: his “leap” in celebration as the putt went in the hole.
Eye on Mother Nature
The weather is always a factor at Augusta National. If it’s windy, it’s a different course, a much more difficult course, and it changes the way players have to find their way around the club’s already difficult layout.
Yes, it’s hard for Tiger Woods to be “one to watch” if he’s not playing, but his absence has been and will be talked about. It also opens up the attention lenses for many other players and story lines this week.
On the tube
Thursday: 3-7:30 p.m., ESPN
Friday: 3-7:30 p.m., ESPN
Saturday: 3 p.m.-conclusion of day's play, CBS
Sunday: 2 p.m.-conclusion of day's play, CBS