The golfing world will come to a standstill today and for the next four days as the 80th edition of the Masters swings into action down the fairways and onto the greens of the famous Augusta National, as the field drive, swing and chip their way in the hope of donning the green jacket on Sunday evening.
Jordan Spieth was the man to have the jacket placed on his shoulders last year and he's the one the rest of the pack will be chasing once again as he shakes off his early season struggles to hit form ahead of this weekend's action. The 22-year-old Texan is sitting in second place in the betting odds with one of the major bookmakers the day before the action starts, but the competition will be fierce over the weekend, with Ireland's own Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all in with a very good shout of going home with the first major of the season according to the bookies.
This time last year McIlroy was looking to win his third major in a row and in the process claim a career grand slam of Majors, while things didn't work out for the Irishman and Spieth hit the course and put in a with a record-breaking performance and looked liked he could go on to dominate the game like Tiger Woods did when he first hit the pro tour back in the late 90s.
McIlroy is coming into the competition winless in 2016 and if he is to improve on last year's fourth place finish, he'll have to shake off the disappointment of being beaten by Jason Day at the WGC Dell Match Play recently. The aforementioned Day might be the best pick of the leading trio to take the jacket this year, he's been playing consistently well this year and he has two top-five finishes at Augusta in the past and he might have claimed his first green jacket three years ago if he had he been a little more experienced at the time. Day is also coming in as world number one and he looks like he's not being weighed down by the pressure that comes with that tag.
Those next in line for a crack at the win according to the bookies is Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott. Fan favourite Watson is a two-time former winner of this comeptition and the lefthander will be a good shout to be in the shake up near the end of the action on Sunday evening. But this could be the time for Rickie Fowler to step up and win this major, he plays the right kind of golf game for the Augusta course, he finished fifth two years ago and he's made the cut five times out of five outings at the Masters.
Justin Rose was available at a price of 22/1 in the bookmakers yesterday and the 35-year-old English man who finished tied second here last year definitely has the golf in him to have a right good crack at this competition again this year. He's played the Masters ten times and each of those ten times he's made the cut and this weekend represents a great opportunity for him to add another major title to the US Open he won in 2013.
Irish tee off times
McIlroy will be the last man to tee off in the competition at number 89 when he kicks off his bid to complete a career grand slam. He'll tee off at 7.01pm Irish time alongside Martin Kaymer and America's Bill Haas in the first two rounds of the year's first major championship.
Graeme McDowell will tee off at 6.17pm today alongside, Fabian Gomez of Argentina and American Scott Piercy while his fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke will be out of the course at 4.38pm alongside England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick and Bill Horshel of the US.
Offaly's Shane Lowry will have 2009 champion Angel Cabrera for company on his first two rounds with Lowry and the Argentinian being joined by American JB Holmes. This trio will go out just before McIlroy this evening as Lowry looks to cement his place amongst the top golfers in the world and a good showing here will set him up nicely for a big summer ahead.