The Masters is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the professional golf circuit, and this year’s edition could feature some of the biggest storylines in recent history. As the best in the world descend upon Augusta National Golf Club this week, there are five stories to keep an eye on.
The defending champion, Scottie Scheffler, is back in top form and gunning to become the fourth player ever to successfully defend his Masters title. Despite his amazing success on the PGA Tour and two wins this season, Scheffler will face a tall task, as no one has won the Masters in consecutive years since Tiger Woods in 2001-2002.
Rory McIlroy will also be looking to make history at this year’s Masters, as a win would give him the career Grand Slam, something only achieved by five other golfers. However, the course has been the site of many frustrating moments for McIlroy, with his most-memorable misstep coming in 2011 when he seemed poised for victory, but endured a back-nine collapse.
This year’s Masters also serves as the inaugural event for LIV Golf, an emerging Saudi-backed professional golf circuit. This year’s field will include a prominent group of LIV players, headed by British Open winner Cameron Smith, as well as former Masters champions Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel, who will all be looking to make a mark on the sport.
Tiger Woods is making his return to Augusta National as well, and after his miraculous 2019 win, his surgically-reconstructed leg will be put to the test in a place he knows better than any other golfer. Woods could potentially be a factor at the Masters, although the competition has gotten increasingly difficult over the years.
Finally, a change to the tee box at the par-5 13th hole, nicknamed Azalea, makes the decision to go for the green in two more difficult while also making the hole more challenging overall. The yardage, now 545 yards, has increased by 35 yards, thanks in part to advances in golf ball and equipment technology.
The 2021 Masters should be an exciting and entertaining affair. With so many amazing players and compelling stories, the eyes of the world will be on Augusta National this week to watch the best of the best answer the challenge and do battle for the Green Jacket.