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At the Masters, world’s top players motivate each other

Jason Day, of Australia, hugs Jordan Spieth after

Jason Day, of Australia, hugs Jordan Spieth after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis. (AP Photo/Jae Hong) Credit: AP / Jae Hong

AUGUSTA, Ga. — As difficult as it is to win the Masters, and golfers consider it one of the most tensely daunting tasks in the game, it is nearly impossible to predict who will wear the green jacket this year.

“To be honest, I don’t think I’m the favorite this week,” said Jason Day, currently No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, who has in fact been named the favorite by oddsmakers.

Jordan Spieth, who has to be included in the conversation because he won here last year and was second the year before, said on Tuesday, “There’s a lot of guys who have a lot of success here who have really brought some strong finishes and motivation and some momentum into this week . . . So now, isn’t Jason the favorite?”

Leading players say the depth at the top is a departure from, and result of, Tiger Woods’ era of dominance. Day said the contenders were inspired by Woods.

Now they inspire each other, according to Rory McIlroy, former world No. 1 and winner of two 2014 majors. “I’d be lying if I said those guys having success doesn’t motivate me. Of course it does,” he said. “What Jordan did here last year and at the U.S. Open and the whole way through the summer, and what Jason Day did during the summer and this year, I don’t want to be left behind.”

Nicklaus still has faith in Tiger

Thirty years after his stunning Masters victory at the age of 46, Jack Nicklaus said that Tiger Woods will have “his 1986.”

Woods, 40, is not in the field and was expected here only to attend the Champions Dinner Tuesday night while recovering from two back operations last fall. Still, Nicklaus predicted that Woods will win again. “I know his personality, I know his determination, I know his work ethic,” the 18-time major winner said. “He’s just too good not to win. Whether he will win at the level at which he’s used to winning, that remains to be seen.”

New York Sports