tournament at a glance
When: Thursday-next Sunday Where: Augusta, Ga.
The course: Augusta National Golf Club (7,435 yards, par 72)
Purse: To be determined ($11 million in 2017)
Field: 86 players (80 professional, six amateurs)
Cut: Top 50 and ties, and anyone within 10 shots of the lead
TV: ESPN and Ch. 4
It's not just that Tiger Woods is back, although that is something of a big deal. More than that is the sheer number of headliners who, with the exception of Jordan Spieth, are all in fine form. And in the case of Spieth, who already has a win and two runner-up finishes at Augusta, you just assume he gets well the first time he smells pimento cheese.
Sergio Garcia (right) won his first major in his 70th attempt as a pro, rallying from a two-shot deficit with six holes to play to beat Justin Rose on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. The turning point came at the par-5 13th when Garcia had to take a penalty drop from the bushes left of the tee. He saved par, went birdie-eagle to tie Rose and won with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in sudden death after Rose made bogey.
Past champions in the field
Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Tiger Woods, Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O'Meara, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize
players to watch
Dustin Johnson: The No. 1-ranked player in the world will make progress simply by teeing off. He was denied that last year after he slipped down the wooden staircase of his rental home in Augusta on the eve of the Masters and had to withdraw because of a back injury.
Rory McIlroy (right): The career Grand Slam became a popular topic again when McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his first victory in 18 months. This will be his fourth attempt to become the sixth player to capture all four majors. The other three were not particularly close.
Justin Thomas: Thomas won in a playoff at the Honda Classic with two bold shots, and he holed a wedge from the fairway that got him into the playoff with Phil Mickelson in Mexico. He was one match away from getting to No. 1 in the world when he lost to Bubba Watson in the semifinals of the Match Play.
Tiger Woods: Returns after missing the Masters three of the past four years because of a back injury. The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook had odds at 50-1 for Woods winning the Masters before he returned to competition in the Bahamas the first week in December. Six tournaments later, he is a co-favorite.
Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson: Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, won the Mexico Championship in a playoff over Justin Thomas for his first victory in nearly five years. Watson, a two-time Masters champion, had not won in two years and now has won twice in his past four starts.