The Masters weekend begins: A tradition like no other

By Brad O'Hara, Staff Writer, B.L.Ohara@iup.edu, 4/7/17

Danny Willet hits his ball from a sand bunker along the 7th green during the second round of the 80th Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 8, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS)

It’s another April weekend at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., but this weekend is special.

The tournament began Thursday morning and will last until Sunday. The club will be the battleground for the first Professional Golf Association major of the season, the Masters.

The 81st annual tournament will play host to 94 of the best golfers in the world fighting for a green jacket and a lifelong title of Masters champion.

One player to watch during the tournament is Jordan Spieth. Spieth will look to capture his second Masters victory after winning the tournament in 2015 and ending last year’s tournament tied for second.

His victory in 2015 tied the lowest score in a Masters tournament at -18, and his win made him the second youngest golfer to win a green jacket.

It’s no question that Spieth has the accolades under his belt that are needed to be picked as a favorite to win a second green jacket. Spieth has nine PGA tour wins at the age of 23.

The question, however, is whether he can continue his dominance in Augusta this weekend.

Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world, hurt his back Wednesday while slipping and falling on wooden stairs.

He attempted to play Thursday, but walked off the first tee and declared he couldn’t continue. He has withdrawn from the tournament.

Rory McIlroy will be teeing off at this year’s Masters in hopes of achieving a career grand slam by winning all four majors.

McIlroy won a U.S. Open title in 2011, The Open Championship in 2014 and two PGA Championships in 2012 and 2014.

McIlroy is also a two-time leading money winner, a two-time PGA Player of the Year, a three-time European Tour Golfer of the Year, a three-time McCormack Award recipient and the 2016 FedEx Champion. After having a rough start in 2016, McIlroy ended on a couple of high notes, picking up his first PGA Tour win at the Deutsche Bank Championship in September.

An ongoing narrative this weekend will be whether McIlroy can exercise his Masters demons.

As is the case a lot of years, this tournament is anybody’s to claim. Just look at Danny Willett, who won last year’s Masters.

Willett’s win at the Masters in 2016 was not only his first major championship win, but his first PGA Tour win altogether.

The win for Willett was unexpected and beyond anything that had been done previously. Willett’s win did not even earn him a spot in the Top 20 golf rankings.

Every competitor in this competition is there for a reason, and keep that in mind this weekend because any one of them can win this year’s Masters and walk away with a green jacket.