AUGUSTA, Ga. — Hello, friends. Our long winter has ended, Augusta National has blossomed its way back into our lives. Raise a pimento cheese in toast.
And what a Masters the 2019 tournament promises to be. Rory McIlroy will be searching for that elusive title, one that will give him the career Grand Slam. Entering as the Players champion and with seven straight top 10s, the Ulsterman is the hands-down favorite at Augusta, but to don the green jacket, he’ll need to tame the ghosts that have plagued him so at this event. Also seeking a sort of redemption: Dustin Johnson. It’s now been two years since Johnson’s fall heard ’round the world, and as he admitted a few months ago, he’s just now returning to full strength. No one makes it look easier when they are “on,” and many on the property are expecting DJ to finally compete at a course that suits his game so well.
Then there is Jordan Spieth. The man has made Augusta National his home with a win, two runner-ups, a third-place finish and an appearance in the penultimate group in five appearances, and his 70.05 scoring average is the best career mark among those in the Masters field. Alas, Spieth is stuck in a career-worst slump, his last top-25 finish coming in September. Can Augusta snap Spieth out of his slumber, or are further stumbles ahead?
Yet all eyes, as they usually are, will be on Tiger Woods. The 14-time major winner is searching for his first Masters win in 14 years. Amazingly, Woods is coming in under the radar, his best finish this campaign a quarterfinals appearance at the WGC-Match Play. However, his stats say otherwise, ranking sixth in strokes gained and third in GIR percentage. The list of viable contenders has never been deeper, and Woods no longer has the fastball of yesteryear. Yet, as he proved at Carnoustie, Bellerive and East Lake last season, Tiger remains more than capable of producing roars. Ones that could reverberate throughout Georgia this weekend.
The Golf Digest team will be here throughout the tournament to keep you up-to-date on all the action from Augusta National. Follow along with our 2019 Masters live blog below.
(ALL TIMES ET)