Five things to know: Vince Johnson sets the scene in Augusta
MOST LIKELY STORYLINES FOR THE TOURNAMENT
3. The weather. Severe weather forced the first-ever cancellation of the Masters Par 3 Contest on Wednesday, and high winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour are likely to impact the Thursday and Friday rounds.
“You don’t want to have five-footers from above the hole when the wind is blowing,” Jordan Spieth said Tuesday.
“Because of the speed of the greens and the amount of slope there is, the wind affects the ball that much more.”
2. The Champions Tour strikes back. In recent years, 50-somethings Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples have found their way to Sunday’s final few pairs. With course knowledge a crucial factor at The Masters, a late week run by a former champion is always a patron pleaser on the Augusta grounds.
1. Can they find green for the first time? Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite and the top-ranked player in the world.
Rory McIlroy is attempting to complete the career grand slam. Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose have contended before, but never finished on top. Too many of the world’s best players have yet to win at Augusta National. Something has to give.
BEST FOOD ITEM AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL
3. Bar-B-Que Sandwich – The bold, warm barbeque is a staple on the Augusta grounds.
2. Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich – Peach ice cream sits stoically between two sugar cookies. An underrated summer treat.
1. Pimento Cheese Sandwich – The legendary sandwich on white bread has few rivals in the sporting world. And at $1.50, the price can’t be beat.
BEST PRE-TOURNAMENT QUOTE
3. “Zach (Johnson) told me I could sit with him at the cool kids’ table.”
- Jordan Spieth, on the Champions Dinner
2. “It’s my favorite place on earth. I’ve had some good and some bad, and I always try to find my best as we drive down Magnolia Lane.”
- Phil Mickelson, on Augusta National.
1. “I have no doubt that history will place its own special mark on the 81st playing of the Masters, as it is completed over the next four days. But for all of us at Augusta National Golf Club, that history has already been written. It is the celebration of the life story of Arnold Palmer.”
– Billy Payne, Chairman, Augusta National Golf Club
PREDICTIONS TO WIN THE 2017 MASTERS
3. Rory McIlroy – He’s been too close, too often. Every player believes it’s not a matter of if, but when McIlroy wins in Augusta. 2017 could be his time.
2. Lee Westwood – He finished second in 2016, and has six Top-10 finishes at The Masters. Perhaps the best current player to never win a major, the 43-year-old Westwood could be the unlikely ascender this week.
1. Jordan Spieth – He’s just too good at Augusta National, and he knows it. He already talks about the mental edge he has over other players, and he’s played a total of 12 tournament rounds on the course. If Spieth plays well early, he could put major pressure on the rest of the field.
Vince Johnson is covering his ninth Masters Tournament. You can follow his Masters coverage in real time on Twitter @vincejohnson.