The Masters 2017: The Contenders
With so many contenders its all to play for in the Masters 2017
This Thursday we welcome back one the greatest events on sports annual calendar: The Masters. Augusta National will again host around 100 of the world’s best golfers to battle it out across 4 days, 72 holes, 7435 yards, avoiding the 44 bunkers, all for 1 green jacket. So, who are the favourites?
The clear favourite for this year’s Masters is the world no.1, Dustin Johnson. Coming off 3 straight tour titles, and having clinched his first major at the US PGA last July, the unflappable American has the quality, form, and know-how to be successful in Augusta. 2016 saw Johnson’s best ever finish in the masters, coming 4th, but he will be confident going into Thursday that he can go even better.
Spieth absolutely loves playing in Augusta, having played there 3 times in his career and coming in the top 2 every time, winning in 2015. However he will have to exercise the demons of last year’s catastrophe, when he triple-bogeyed the 12th hole on the final day as he lost a 5 shot lead in just 3 holes, allowing Danny Willett to capitalise. But the 23 year old has had a solid start to this year, winning his 100th PGA Tour event, and will hope to be among the challengers yet again come Sunday.
The world no.2 has not become the dominant force in golf he promised to be when he won back-to-back majors in 2014. The talent of the Northern Irishman is undisputed, but there has been a lack of consistency for the past couple of years. He has also had an injury blighted start to 2017, with a fractured rib ending his January early. But despite this McIlroy is still seen to be in contention; he’s too good not to be a threat. The Masters is all McIlroy needs to complete his set of major prizes (becoming only the sixth player ever to do so), and at 27 there is still plenty of time left to achieve this, but there’s no time like the present!
This 22 year old Spaniard will be appearing in his first ever Masters, but is being widely lauded and tipped to have a good week. Having only turned pro last summer, he has launched from 551st in the world to 12th, winning the Farmers Insurance Open in January as his first tour win. Like all the very top players Rahm has a huge drive, and an ever-improving short game to back it up. Whilst a debut Augusta victory looks unlikely, Rahm is definitely one to watch this week, and in years to come.
This year may well begin on sombre note, with ‘The King’, Arnold Palmer, not being in attendance for the first time since 1955, having passed away last September aged 87. However, the show must go on, and this year promises to be just as intriguing as ever. The great thing about the masters is that it’s unpredictable; few would have foreseen Willett’s victory last year, even with 9 holes left. Hence whilst we have favourites, the only certainty from the Masters is that there will be drama.