1 – The winning score
As of Monday, some of the regulars of the Augusta national GC pointed to his extremely firm character. Adam Scott even argued that the only time he had seen such a devious Augusta so early in the week was in 2007, the year of Zach Johnson’s success. During this very selective edition, the winner had won at +1 total. Can we imagine the same kind of test this year? FYI, over the last 10 editions, the average winning score is around -12. The weather will of course be an important factor to take into account to answer the riddle. Rain is expected Friday afternoon and Saturday.
2: Rory’s Slam
He is the only player in the field to be able to complete his personal Grand Slam. Only Rory McIlroy lacks this Masters which has escaped him on several occasions. But 2021 may not yet be the year of deliverance… “Rors” himself said on Tuesday that he was starting a long journey with his new coach, Pete Cowen, in search of a swing a little too disturbed by a search for ultra-power. However, it would be too easy to put aside such a talent who has signed Top 10s in each of his last six appearances at Augusta (5th in 2020 after a 75 on the first day…)
3: The 15th in showtime mode
Given the firmness of the Georgian layout, hole n°15 risks (re) becoming a pretty monster. This par 5 which was abused last year with the very flexible conditions of November (2nd easiest hole with an average of 4.6, 140 birdies and 14 eagles combined) will regain its luster. Attacking it in two shots will always be possible, but perhaps not very strategically recommended because stopping a long iron on this tiled floor defended by a pretty lake will be a feat.
4: Cantlay, too underdog?
Patrick Cantlay, does that not speak to you? However, the American, 10th in the world, was long in the game for the win at Augusta in 2019 and has only signed one performance outside the Top 20 since the start of the year (missed cut at the Players). With his very complete and above all very discreet profile, Cantlay could bring everyone together this week if he manages to manage the inherent pressure of a first major title.
5: Perez always higher
Victor Perez is playing his second consecutive Masters. And if the Frenchman discovers the “true” face of Augusta, he is also surfing on a state of form that is still as regular and sparkling. Semi-finalist of the match-play WGC, the Tarbais reached its best planetary ranking before the first Major of the season (29th). He will be able to fully rely on the local knowledge of his co-driver JP Fitzgerald, who supported Rory McIlroy during some of his best performances at Augusta.
6: Audience impact
OK, we are far from the usual gauges which see between 30 and 40,000 spectators walking the fairways of the Augusta National GC every day. If no official figure has been communicated by the men in the green jacket, it is estimated that several thousand the number of Patrons (the small name of the ticket holders there) having access to the holy of holies. Casually, their impact on the players was already audible: “ Hearing the roars of the fans, it excites everyonelaunched Bubba Watson earlier this week. It inspires, it makes you want to surpass yourself, to hit ever crazier shots. Hearing the roars brings out the best in us “.
7: DJ for the double
Since Tiger Woods in 2000-01, no one has managed to defend their title at the Masters. And casually, after his show of force last year, Dustin Johnson seems able to achieve it. Obviously the conditions will not be the same, the record score of -20 will in all likelihood not be reached. It’s true, for the past few weeks, the state of form of the world No. 1 has not been sparkling: 54th in the WGC Workday, 48th in the Players, eliminated in the group stage in match play. Its driver also prevents it from fully expressing itself. But in Augusta, its power fade has already worked wonders and driving is clearly less important there. So…
8: Game of Thrones
Speaking of planetary No. 1 throne, that of DJ is in balance this week. And it is Justin Thomas who is able to bring down the Floridian polest! His lead is melting since the big performances of JT (victory at the Players in particular) and suddenly things are clear: if Justin Thomas puts on the green jacket and Johnson finishes beyond 21st place, he will lose his hand on the world golf.
9: No ball Augusta
In his traditional pre-tournament press conference, the chairman of Augusta, Fred Ridley, brushed aside the idea of a ball specific to the masters tournament. Faced with the constant debate over the ever-increasing distance that players manage to reach with clubs in hand, rumors swelled about the adoption of a restricted ball only valid in the Georgian enclosure. ” It’s kind of a last resort in our eyes », specified Ridley before adding that he did not imagine extending his layout to infinity.
10: Koepka and Rahm, weak leaders?
Two heavyweights in world golf are arriving in Augusta this year in strange states. One, Brooks Koepka has just returned from surgery on his right knee which forces him to adopt a spider-man type position to read the greens. The other, Jon Rahm, has just welcomed his first child (a son, named Kepa) and only arrived on Wednesday morning with very little training in his paws. Both are not to be discarded too quickly… Rahm in particular arrives in a state of mind of the type “nothing to lose, everything to gain”: ” I just had such a powerful moment. I just feel happy, I’m thrilled to be at Augusta and I’m definitely coming into it in a different frame of mind. » Injured player, happy player = danger!