Newsday previews the 2016 Masters at Augusta, Ga.
Reasons to Pick One of the Favorites
Bubba Watson — Aside from his two even-numbered-years wins, he has aired some of his secret demons on “60 Minutes” and, above all, his length and right-to-left ball flight are perfect here.
Jason Day — It’s a high-ball hitter’s course and Jack Nicklaus says Day has the highest trajectory in golf now. Plus, he’s the No. 1 player in the world rankings.
Rory McIlroy — Strictly business, skipped the Par-3 Contest, hungry for the career Grand Slam.
Jordan Spieth — Said on Tuesday that he was in better form than he was on Tuesday of Masters week last year, when he won.
Phil Mickelson — So he can keep needling Dustin Johnson. During practice Tuesday, hours before Champions Dinner, Mickelson asked him, “So what are your plans tonight?” (Later, Mickelson told reporters, “Might have been a little too subtle.”)
Reputation Would Swing Dramatically and Permanently with a Win (The Fred Couples Effect)
Worth Rooting For
Marc Leishman — Had to suddenly leave Augusta last April as his wife, Audrey, was stricken with life-threatening acute respiratory distress and toxic shock syndrome. She withstood a medically induced coma, recovered and encouraged him to get back out on tour. He led the British Open after 69 holes.
Sammy Schmitz — Minnesotan, 35-year-old regional director of a health-care services company, won the 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur with an ace on a par 4. Will have the same buddy caddying for him this week as he had then. Organized a GoFundMe campaign to pay for his trip here.
Vaughn Taylor — Augusta native and former star at Augusta State, his game and health crumbled after he was a 2006 Ryder Cup player. Worse yet, he capsized and nearly drowned in the Savannah River during a 2014 fishing trip. Bounced back this year by winning at Pebble Beach.
Tom Watson — His final Masters.
Keep an Eye On (European Tour Edition)
Danny Willett — Says he grew up playing golf in a sheep field in Yorkshire, England. Has won four European Tour events, including the Dubai Desert Classic this year. Has been a big month already as he became a first-time father April 1.
Branden Grace — South African has won seven times on European Tour (2016 Qatar Masters). Tied with Spieth for the lead at the 2015 U.S. Open with two holes to play.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello — Has moved up 81 places (to 33rd) in the world golf rankings this year and is especially hot lately. Spaniard finished third at WGC-Dell Match Play last month, beating McIlroy in consolation match.
Bernd Wiesberger — Native of Vienna, Austria, recovered from broken collarbone (skiing accident) as a teenager. Long driver. Has won three European Tour events, made final group on Sunday at 2014 PGA Championship.
Only at Augusta
- Completely revamped and enlarged the Champions Locker Room this year. “This is only going to affect 25 to 30 people,” said Mickelson, who is one of them. “Every little detail is well thought through.”
- City rerouted Berckmans Road so that acres of free parking are no longer across a busy street from Augusta National. Also, there’s now a chance the club can expand the fourth and fifth holes.
- A person who tries to enter through the wrong gate is told to go back across the street, cross again and enter the proper one, about 30 feet away.
- Cutting edge technology: First 4K (Ultra High Definition) telecast this year. Club also will offer test virtual reality viewing.
- Pimento cheese sandwich still costs only $1.50.
- 75 years since Craig Wood was the first wire-to-wire champion.
- 50 years since Jack Nicklaus became the first to win back-to-back Masters.
- 40 years since Raymond Floyd set records for low first- , second- and third-round scores by a winner.
- 30 years since Nicklaus won at the age of 46.
- 20 years since Greg Norman lost a six-shot lead on Sunday.
TV schedule (all times EDT)
Thursday/Friday: 3-7:30 p.m., ESPN
Saturday: 3-7:30 p.m, CBS
Sunday: 2-7, CBS