Masters Preview: All Eyes on DJ

Brian Koziol previews the weekend at Augusta

Brian Koziol
April 05, 2017 - 8:49 pm

Dustin Johnson is playing the best golf of his life. He's won three tournaments in a row, doing it against very strong fields. He's #1 in the world rankings and #1 in the FedEx Cup points standings. All facets of his game are in tune. He drives it as far as anybody and his short game is as good as it's been in his career.

But now his status for how he plays this year’s Masters is in question. He fell at his rental house on Wednesday and hurt his back. His agent says that Dustin hopes to play. Having the last tee time of day on Thursday at 2:03pm may help in terms of rest and recovery, but it sure adds a big question mark to the world’s hottest player.

The Masters, arguably the most popular stop on the Tour's calendar, marks the "unofficial" beginning of the golf season for most of us in the Northeast and a lot of eyes will be on Johnson's quest to win his first green jacket. But this course, unlike others, has its nuisances and subtle challenges that can bring a whole set of players into the discussion of who can prevail come Sunday. Here are some others to watch this week:

  • Jordan Spieth:   His career at Augusta:  T-2nd, 1st, T-2nd.  Spieth was in line to win again last season until his collapse on the 12th hole which allowed Danny Willett to win. I expect Spieth to have the mentality that he wants to show people that he is past what happened last year and with his track record here, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he wins again. Spieth on why he plays well here: " It's imaginative golf, it's feel golf, it's an advantage to me personally, it's pure golf, the atmosphere here and being able to feed off it."
  • Phil Mickelson:  3-time Masters champion. Mickelson would become the oldest at age 46 to win the Masters. When Jack Nicklaus won in 1986, he was also 46 years old, but Mickelson is a few months older. Mickelson says that age is no longer as big of a factor as it was years ago due to the fitness regime that he says he hopes gives him many more years to play. This course fits Mickelson so well, as many have noted, lefties seem to like it here with a bulk of holes shaped from right to left allowing them to hit the higher percentage "cut" shots off the tee with their driver.
  • Rory McIlory:  The career grand slam can be completed this week with a win by Rory. I still think that when his game is on, it's the best in the world. His putter is the difference maker. He could've been in contention to win last year had he not missed a handful of short putts. 
  • Jon Rahm:  The casual golf watcher may not know much about Rahm but he is almost as hot as Dustin Johnson and figures to be a factor. It is his first appearance which could come into play, but he also has been a first timer at a lot of course lately and handled them quite nicely. He’s from Spain, he’s won this year at Torrey Pines, has had three top 5’s in his last four tournaments and is managed by Tim Mickelson, Phil’s brother, who quit his coaching job at Arizona State to manage Rahm.

Prediction:   Spieth

Be sure to tune in to Tee 2 Green on WGR on Saturday morning for a special two-hour Masters edition, Live from Tan Tara Golf Club.

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