Mark Herrmann breaks down the top story lines and more ahead of the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.
Top story lines
1. Rory McIlroy goes for his third consecutive major championship and a completion of the career Grand Slam.
2. Tiger Woods returns from self-imposed two-month exile, during which he worked "sunup to sundown" after having displayed what appeared to be a case of the chipping yips.
3. Bubba Watson goes for his second Masters in a row, his third in five years and his first since he was ranked first by fellow pros in a survey of which player they would least like to help in a fight. "I put my name on there, too," he said. "Here is the way I take it, I take it as I need to improve as a man."
4. Can a top young American, particularly Jordan Spieth or Patrick Reed, break through?
5. Does Phil Mickelson has enough left to overcome a year that he calls "terrible?" And can a lefthander win here for the seventh time in 13 years?
Keep an eye on . . .
1. Jimmy Walker: Long hitter, only two-time winner on tour this season. Playing with Tiger today and tomorrow.
2. Henrik Stenson: Often a contender, never a winner so far, in majors. No. 2 in world ranking.
3. Jason Day: Same as Stenson, only he is No. 5 in world.
4. Rickie Fowler: Top five in all four majors last year.
5. Adam Scott: He's back to using his long putter. Hey it's not 2016 and the thing isn't banned yet.
And then there is . . .
1. Ben Crenshaw: Two-time champion making his 44th and final Masters appearance.
2. Carl Jackson: Caddie who has worked the Masters every year but once since 1961, 35 times for Crenshaw. Probably making his final appearance. He's a throwback to a time when players used Augusta National's caddies for the Masters.
3. Fred Couples (pictured right): He’s 55 and has been among the top 10 through two rounds in each of the past five Masters.
4. Camilo Villegas: Made two holes-in-one in the Par 3 Contest, but lost in a playoff.
5. Kevin Streelman: Trying to break the all-time Par 3 Contest champions' hex. Maybe karma will prevail for yesterday's playoff winner. His caddie was Ethan Couch, an 11-year-old with an inoperable brain tumor, whom Streelman reached through Make-A-Wish.
1. Jack Nicklaus made his first Augusta ace during the Par 3 Contest. "It was really cool," said Jordan Spieth, a witness from two holes ahead. "Never thought I would get to see Jack Nicklaus make a hole-in-one."
2. Two grafts and a seedling from the 17th hole's Eisenhower Tree, which was knocked down by an ice storm last year. Cross-sections of the tree also have been preserved. One will go to the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, one will stay at Augusta. Another piece was given to Arnold Palmer.
3. Brooks Koepka: Potential turned into a triumph at the Phoenix Open.
4. Morgan Hoffmann: Wyckoff, N.J. native nearly won the Barclays, close to home last summer; finished fourth at Arnold Palmer Invitational last month.
5. Niall Horan: Pop star caddied for Rory McIlroy yesterday, also hit a ball in the water, then said, "I do perform for a lot of people. I performed for their parents today."
50 years: Since Jack Nicklaus won by nine over Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, who tied for second. All three will be ceremonial starters today.
40 years: Since Lee Elder broke the color barrier at the Masters. He and family members will be here, guests of Augusta National.
20 years: Since Tiger Woods' first Masters.
10 years: Since Woods' last Masters win.
5 years: Since Amy Mickelson made her first post-surgery appearance, following Phil's victory.