Top 5 storylines entering 2018 Masters at Augusta National

Ryan Young/PGA TOUR

Top 5 storylines entering 2018 Masters at Augusta National

PGA Tour

Top 5 storylines entering 2018 Masters at Augusta National

Masters week is officially here – and what a week it is set up to be.

Tiger Woods is not only a contender again, but he’s also the betting favorite. Rory McIlroy, in his quest for the career Grand Slam, has won recently, as has Phil Mickelson. Bubba Watson has won twice this year.

Here are the top 5 storylines entering the 2018 Masters at Augusta National:

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 25: Bubba Watson of the United States celebrates with the Walter Hagen Cup after defeating Kevin Kisner of the United States 7&6 to win the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 25, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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5. Bubba Golf is back

Fresh off two victories in as many months, Bubba Watson is in top form again as he looks to win his third green jacket. There’s no denying that Watson is one of the favorites this week – even if he won’t admit it himself – but he also has a mixed bag at Augusta National. Aside from his two Masters wins, he has just one finish better than T-37 in seven starts.

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4. JT looks to dethrone DJ

Dustin Johnson has been No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking since early 2017, but Justin Thomas has another chance to overtake DJ this week in Augusta. Last Sunday JT would’ve supplanted DJ as No. 1 if he had advanced to the final of the WGC-Dell Match Play, but he lost in the semifinals. Johnson, of course, will return to the Masters one year after he withdrew before his Thursday tee time because of a freak back injury suffered after he fell down the stairs of his rental home.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 04: Phil Mickelson gives a thumb up to fans as he holds the Gene Sarazen Cup after winning the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship on a playoff hole at Club De Golf Chapultepec on March 4, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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3. Lefty eyes Jack’s record

Jack Nicklaus holds the record for oldest Masters champion, winning the 1986 Masters at the age of 46. Phil Mickelson is 47, and he is one of the favorites this year after winning in Mexico on the heels of three straight top-6 finishes on Tour. Twenty years ago Nicklaus finished T-6 at the 1998 Masters at the age of 58, so there’s no reason Mickelson can’t break Jack’s record this year.

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2. Rory’s quest for the Slam

No golfer has ever completed the career Grand Slam at Augusta National. Rory McIlroy has a chance to do just that this week. McIlroy, a four-time major winner, takes another shot at winning his first green jacket and putting the heartbreak of 2011 behind him for good. Before winning at Bay Hill last month, McIlroy was struggling with his putting and approach play. But he turned it around at the API, putting together an impressive rally for the comeback win. He’ll need that game to show up again in Augusta.

Tiger Woods

(Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

1. Tiger, Tiger Woods, ya’ll

A year ago it would’ve been hard to believe that Woods would find himself one of the betting favorite this year at Augusta National, 13 years after his fourth Masters triumph, in 2005. But here the 42-year-old Woods is, with a good chance to win his fifth green jacket and 15th major title. He enters this week coming off three straight top-12s, including a T-5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The driver is still a major question, but Woods has flashed an impressive short game and ability to strike his irons well in these past few months.

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