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Five things you need to know about Thursday’s opening round


The 2021 Masters Tournament begins at 7:45 a.m. Thursday, with the honorary tee photographs of Lee Elder, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

After that, the scores rely and everyone seems to be chasing defending champion Dustin Johnson, in hopes he’ll put the inexperienced jacket on them Sunday afternoon in Butler Cabin.

In what lastly looks like a tiny little bit of normalcy, the Masters has returned to its conventional April spot on the calendar, and there can be a couple of patrons roaming the grounds at Augusta National.

Here are 5 storylines to listen to as you watch on-line and on ESPN within the afternoon:

Roars return

The crowd reacts to a birdie by Tiger Woods on the eleventh inexperienced throughout the second round of The Masters golf event at Augusta National Golf Club. Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Thankfully, after a one-year absence, patrons have returned to the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club. While everybody was grateful the Masters passed off in 2020 amid a worldwide pandemic, the absence of roars created an eerie silence. Although the galleries can be a lot smaller than traditional (estimated at one-fourth the dimensions), they may present an important soundtrack round keyholes in Amen Corner and alongside the complete course. Those resounding reactions function indicators to the gamers, who can learn the roars like they learn the greens, utilizing them to know when one other competitor is climbing the leaderboard.

Course situations

The inexperienced on the 18th gap is proven at Augusta National Golf Club, the positioning of the Masters golf event, in Augusta, Ga. AP Photo/Rob Carr

Firm and quick. If you had a greenback for each time a participant spoke these phrases the final three days, you’d be celebrating like a Masters champion. Seriously although, the players will face major championship slickness, unlike any seen at Augusta National in at least eight years. During follow rounds, method photographs trickled down slopes and gamers rigorously studied the lengthy, breaking putts they’re sure to face over the subsequent 4 days. Is this a response to the file scoring of the final two years? Not completely. Mother Nature has cooperated in latest weeks, enabling the upkeep workers to regulate the moisture on the fairways and greens, which ought to precise a premium on precision, persistence and course administration. There’s rain within the forecast, however it would take a major quantity to soften a stern take a look at of golf capacity and IQ.

Dustin’s protection

Masters Tournament 2020

Masters Tournament 2020

Dustin Johnson celebrates with the inexperienced jacket after profitable The Masters golf event at Augusta National GC. Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Johnson was an apparent favourite within the fall, arriving in Augusta enjoying one of the best golf of his profession. He’s nonetheless ranked No. 1 on this planet however hasn’t been as sharp of late, recording just one top-10 in 5 U.S. begins in 2021. In this seven-part series, Golfweek dug into what has made DJ a champion. Still, he’s performed the course higher than anybody lately, posting 4 top-six finishes in his final 5 Masters. A tough examination ought to favor the sport’s most proficient gamers and people with essentially the most expertise. Johnson, making his eleventh look, begins his quest to change into the event’s third back-to-back champion at 10:30 a.m.

Koepka’s knee

Farmers Insurance Open

Farmers Insurance Open

Brooks Koepka chips onto the 4th gap inexperienced throughout round one of many 2021 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on January 28, 2021 in San Diego, California. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

After he gained the Waste Management Open in January and completed runner-up within the WGC-Workday Championship in late February, the four-time main champion was an apparent favourite to win his first inexperienced jacket. He hasn’t performed since. Koepka slipped at residence in early March and underwent surgical procedure to restore ligament harm and a dislocated kneecap. He spent the last month in intensive rehabilitation and returned to the course on Monday, enjoying 4 holes. He lacks full vary of movement in his proper knee and may’t bend down to learn putts. A shot from the pine straw lining Augusta National’s fairways might spell catastrophe. Koepka’s file right here is robust; he’s damaged par in his final 10 rounds and was the runner-up in 2019. He tees off at 10:06 a.m.

Premier pairings

Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele hits his tee shot on the ninth gap throughout the first round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course. Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

10:42 a.m. — Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy; 2 p.m. — Jordan Spieth, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa. There’s a superb likelihood the 2021 Masters champion emerges from one in all these two teams. Masters: Tee times, featured group Spieth (2015) is the one previous champion within the two threesomes and confirmed his return to form last week by winning the Valero Texas Open. Schauffele is a latest runner-up, as is Smith, who turned the primary golfer to shoot 4 rounds within the 60s on the Masters final fall. Everyone anticipated McIlroy to declare a number of titles by now, and regardless of his constant top-10 finishes, his profession can be unfulfilled until he completes the profession Grand Slam. Rahm’s mixture of energy and contact is a perfect match for the course. He’s 3-for-3 in top-10 finishes however didn’t land in Augusta till Wednesday due to the delivery of his son over the weekend. Morikawa, one in all golf’s finest ballstrikers, is looking for his second main crown after profitable the PGA Championship final August.

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