Augusta stages the year’s first major when the 2018 US Masters takes place at the famous venue from April 5-8. It looks set to be another thriller with a whole host of players having serious claims on the green jacket.
Sergio Garcia will be the defending champion having ended his long wait for a first major last year, but the Spaniard faces a threat from all sides with former winners Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson out to add another green jacket to their wardrobes and Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and last year’s runner-up, Justin Rose, seeking a first success at Augusta.
Then, of course, there is Tiger Woods—a four-time winner of the Masters who would be completing the comeback of all comebacks if able to add to his 14 majors. Who will be donning the green jacket on Sunday evening?
The defending champion will be hoping to become the first back-to-back winner of the Masters since Woods achieved the feat in 2001 and 2002. He has started the year in consistent form in WGC events; the Spaniard could well be in the mix come the final round at Augusta.
Another man in a rich vein of form is Watson—he’s a two-time winner of the Masters in 2012 and 2014. The left-hander has won two of his last four tournaments—the Genesis Open and the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play—and finished in the top-10 in the WGC Mexico Championship. He arrives in peak form and can’t be discounted at a venue holding special memories for him.
Spieth could really be lining up as a two-time champion, but the 2015 winner blew it when seemingly destined to go back-to-back in 2016. Does this place have slight scars for him now? Time will tell, but Spieth may well add to his Augusta story at the 2018 US Masters.
McIlroy is another to have thrown away chances of victory at Augusta, the Northern Irishman famously endured a ‘nightmare’ final round in 2011 as he frittered away a four-shot lead. He remains in need of a Masters victory to complete a career Grand Slam of majors.
World number one Johnson was among the favourites to win last year’s event, only to suffer a back injury falling down the stairs. He missed the 2017 Masters as a result and will be desperate to get back to Augusta where he finished sixth and fourth in the previous two years.
The fact that Thomas has only ever played in the Masters twice before shows the rapid journey he has been on to the top of the game. Last year’s PGA Championship winner and FedExCup winner, he is closing in on world number one status too. But can he improve on a best of 22nd at Augusta?
Twice runner-up in the Masters—including to Garcia last year—Rose has an impeccable Augusta record that has seen him finish in the top-10 on five separates occasions. If anyone deserves to don the green jacket, it would be 2013 U.S. Open Champion; but might he be the nearly man again?
There wouldn’t be a more popular winner than Woods, who has stirred up significant interest in the 2018 US Masters—if it needed it—following some eye-catching performances since his return from injury. Having already won four of his 14 majors at Augusta, he knows the course like the back of his hand. The last of these victories may have been in 2005—and his last major a decade ago in 2008—but Woods could complete a return the top of Hollywood blockbuster proportions. And it might just happen.
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