Top-ranked Jason Day, defending champion Jordan Spieth, career Grand Slam seeker Rory McIlroy and a host of elite rivals have sparked an exceptional level of excitement for the 80th Masters.
A field of 89 will tee off Thursday morning at Augusta National in quest of the green jacket awarded a Masters champion, but only one will slide their arms inside the sleeves come Sunday.
Australia’s Day comes off triumphs at Bay Hill and the WGC Match Play. Northern Ireland’s McIlroy has found his form at just the right moment and American Spieth’s record-tying wire-to-wire win from last year still resonates in the Georgia pines.
Add Aussie Adam Scott, twice a winner last month, plus fourth-ranked Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters champion, 2015 Players winner Rickie Fowler and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and the stage is set for a showdown on golf’s most acclaimed course.
“I would enjoy a Spieth McIlroy Fowler Scott Watson Mickelson Sunday,” Day said. “That would be a lot of fun.”
Day has won six of his past 13 events, including his first major title at last year’s PGA Championship, to overtake Spieth as world number one.
“I feel comfortable with where I’m at, walking around the grounds, number one in the world, it’s a good feeling,” Day said. “But I know I can’t take it for granted, because things can change pretty quickly.”
Day is trying to become only the fifth player to win the PGA one year and the Masters the next to join Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead.
“It’s really tough with how everyone is playing,” Day said. “Jordan and Rory are young guys, so we’re all kind of motivating each other, and Rickie as well.
“Adam Scott and Bubba Watson are doing a fantastic job. It’s just really fun to see how the health of the game is right now and how competitive it is.
“I want the best playing against the best and fighting it out,” Day said. “If I end up not wearing the green jacket at the end of Sunday but have a fantastic competitive match against the best players in the world, that’s what I’m there for.”