Grimes: Breaking down this year’s Masters contenders

Alec Grimes

Alec Grimes
Alec Grimes

Thursday will mark the commencement of the 79th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. This year’s field will feature 98 of the game’s best golfers who are competing to win the coveted green jacket. Among the top of the field are favorites Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. McIlroy is currently ranked as the best golfer in the World Golf Rankings, while Spieth is ranked slightly below at No. 4. Both golfers have single-digit odds to win, with McIlroy at 11-2 and Spieth at 8-1.

McIlroy has only participated in three PGA Tour events this season, and missed the cut in the first of the three (Honda Classic). He went on to golf well in his next two PGA appearances, finishing 9th (-1) in the World Golf Championship, and 11th (-11) in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. McIlroy has appeared in the Masters in each of the last six years, earning one top-10 finish and two top-20 finishes. His best round at Augusta was a -4, which he shot back in 2011. McIlroy is quickly becoming the new face of golf, due to Tiger Wood’s absence, which will place higher expectations on the ninth-year pro.

Ad

Spieth is one of the hottest golfers right now as he has shot a combined 33-under par in his past three tournaments. This score was good for a win and two second-place finishes. Due to his recent success, Spieth is currently ranked second in the 2015 FedEx Cup season standings. While Spieth has only been a pro since 2012, he has two tournament wins and has totaled career earnings of more than $11 million. The 21-year old has only played in one Masters Championship which came just a year ago. In his lone appearance he shot -5 which was good for second place behind Bubba Watson. Spieth should have a legitimate chance at winning since he possesses the third-lowest scoring average (69.509) this season.

Another familiar face that will compete at Augusta is Tiger Woods, who is coming off of a nine-week break from play. His time off was a result of re-aggravating a back injury, which caused him to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open back in February. The weekend prior to his withdrawal, Woods shot a career worst 10-over par (82) in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Last Friday, Woods announced that he would be competing in this year’s Masters.

“I’m playing in the Masters… It’s obviously very important to me, and I want to be there,” Woods said.

Woods had appeared in each Masters tournament since 1995, before missing last year’s contest. This year’s event will be Woods’ 20th Masters showing and he will look to earn his fifth green jacket. Only Jack Nicklaus has more Masters Championship wins (6) than Woods. This weekend will be a key indicator of Woods’ future in golf; another missed cut could mean the end of a great career.

McIlroy will tee off at 8:41 a.m. on Thursday morning, followed by Spieth at 11:15 a.m. and Woods at 11:48 a.m.

Thanks for making time for Grimes.

Collegian Sports Reporter Alec Grimes can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @GrimesAlec.