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A pin flag is displayed during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 07, 2021 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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The 85th Masters: What To Watch

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The 85th Masters is set to begin Thursday at Augusta National. The quest for the latest green jacket will put the world’s best golfers to the test.

Here are some things to watch for as you check out this year’s Masters:

1) A return of patrons– Though the number will be limited it will be nice to see fans of the sport sprawled throughout one of the world’s most beautiful courses.

2) The Masters without Tiger– It has happened before and will happen again but it wasn’t that long ago that Woods had one of his greatest triumphs of his historic career. In 2019, the roars for Tiger were back as he stunned the field with another green jacket and another major win. His car accident a few months back will keep him out of the 85th Masters.

3) Going back to back– Dustin Johnson won in impressive fashion last November when Augusta hosted the Masters at a later date and time due to Covid 19. DJ dominated the course and set a 4 day record with his 20 under par total to win his first green jacket. To win again he would join rare company as Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods are the only golfers ever to win back to back Masters.

4) The weather– Looks like a strong chance of decent wind all 4 days but expect rain on Friday and certainly on Saturday which could impact the tournament. Experience at Augusta is always beneficial and those that can use recall from past years to their benefit will do the best.

5) Career Slam– Rory McIlroy is still looking to complete this. The only one eluding him is the Masters. Rory is going through some swing changes and different mechanics that make me think this will not be his year but could be a winner here in the future.

6) The Day 1 Groupings– I always enjoy who is paired together to start these tournaments. This year viewers will get a treat of a couple of intriguing groups. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Xander Schauffele are together. Also, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, and Louis Oosthuizen are teeing off together. Oosthuizen has all that course knowledge and usually finds his place in the top 10. I also like the Jordan Speith, Colin Morikawa and Cameron Smith group. Smith shot 4 rounds in the 60’s last year and has showed up as a dark horse candidate to win this year.

7) Who to watch/and who might win– The field is really good and like was mentioned earlier experience plays a huge factor at Augusta. I would watch Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, and Daniel Berger as those who could win this whole thing. My pick though is going to be Xander Schauffele. He has the right temperament, an incredible game, and has faired well at the Masters before.

In the end this should be a great four days with the years first golf major. Augusta never disappoints even if mother nature may wreak some havoc.

Let’s hope this is a tournament to remember.

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