The 2022 Masters is underway, or will be shortly in case you’re reading this early.
So what are some of the big storylines coming out of Magnolia Lane?
The weather is going to play a part. Strong spring storms have softened up the course which creates two situations: softer, slower, and more receptive greens will allow players to give themselves good looks with the putter. It also makes the course play longer, as shorter players won’t get as much rollout from the tee and will have longer approach shots.
Thursday’s weather looks to be hit or miss, but the gusty winds forecast for Friday will play havoc. It may depend on your tee time for how hard the course will play. Saturday looks to be cooler and breezy, but not as windy. Sunday is forecast to be sunny and mid-60’s. So a lot will play out between now and then.
Rory McIlroy, with a win, can achieve the career grand slam. Which means winning each of golf’s 4 professional majors. He has a British, a US Open, and two PGA Championships already, and is only missing the Masters.
Bryson DeChambeau is probably looking to shoot even par. Of course his version of even par at Augusta National is 67. He stated as such 2 years ago during the midst of his burgeoning, incredible distance gains. It is assumed that he envisions the four par 5s as par 4s, and the short par 4 third hole as a par 3. Good luck with that Bryson, especially coming back from a hand injury.
Phil Mickelson is notably absent, having “self-imposed” a break from competitive golf. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
Hideki Matsuyama will be trying to defend his Masters title, but his form has been off of late and he withdrew from last week’s PGA Tour event in Texas with a neck injury.
There are many first timers, including last week’s Tour winner J.J. Spaun, Harold Varner III of the Greenville, North Carolina School of the East, and Georgia’s own Sepp Straka. The last time a Masters rookie won was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
There’s also a little matter of Tiger Woods returning to competitive golf since his horrific car accident in February of 2021. A 5-time Masters Champion, Tiger can take his sweet time on his decision to play or not. His rehab and injuries are of concern, especially walking the steep hills of Augusta National.
The six former Georgia Bulldogs are looking to make storylines of their own, and here are the tee times and playing companions:
Bubba Watson: 12:35 pm EDT, with the #1 amateur in the world, Keita Nakajima of Japan; and Tom Hoge of the US.
Brian Harman: 9:06 am EDT, with Tech’s Stuart Cink and the Big Beautiful Harry Higgs.
Hudson Swafford: 8:55 am EDT, with Min Woo Lee (Australia) and Cameron young (USA)
Kevin Kisner: 10:12 am EDT, with FSU’s Daniel Berger and Tommy “Mick” Fleetwood of England.
Sepp Straka: 8:22 am EDT, with 1987 Champion Larry Mize, and Italy’s Francesco Molinari
Russell Henley: 12:13 pm EDT with Lee Westwood of England and Corey Connors of Canada.
A few other groups of note:
Per tradition, the reigning US amateur James Piot will play alongside the defending Masters Champion, Hideki Matsuyama. Justin Thomas is along for the ride.
Just before them, at 10:34 am EDT, Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann are playing. There’s a certain 5 time Masters Champion that you may have heard of filling out the threesome.
1:30 pm has Dustin Johnson, Billy Horschel, and Collin Morikawa.
Immediately after at 1:41 pm, Will Zalatoris tees it up with Patrick Cantlay and Jon Rahm. The champion could easily come from this grouping.
Then right after that at 1:52, Jordan Spieth will ply his trade alongside Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland.
And the last group of the day tees off at 2:03. That would be Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
ESPN has the main TV feed starting at 3:00 pm EDT, and SiriusXM Radio will begin coverage at 2:00 pm. But Masters.com and the Masters app for your mobile device will provide all kinds of coverage starting at 7:40 am.
You really can’t complain about the players covered during ESPNs broadcast, as it checks about every single box. Whatever your flavor, enjoy! And as always…