Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 golfer in the world right now is a Masters victory away from having a career Grand Slam. But Augusta National is still intimidating to him.
“The first tee shot of this tournament is the only shot I get nervous about these days,” he said. “You get butterflies and your heart races a little bit. I still get that feeling that I did when I was a rookie.”
Tiger Woods has not won a green jacket since 2005, and inching toward 40, a healthy and well-practiced Woods knows he won’t have many more chances at a jacket.
“Competing is still the same,” he said. “I’m trying to beat everybody out there. That hasn’t changed. I prepare to win and expect to go and do that. The only difference is that I won the Masters when Jordan (Spieth, 21-years-old) was still in diapers. The difference is that guys are now younger, a whole other generation of kids are coming out.”
And Phil Mickelson, who is chasing his fourth title, has good reason to be confident as the start of the tournament approaches Thursday morning.
“If it was chilly in the morning, I would pull it out,” Mickelson joked with pride about his green jacket.“I wouldn’t carry three [green jackets] around with me, but I would say, ‘I’ve got two more if you’re cold.'”
Will one of golf’s three biggest names be atop the leaderboard when the sun starts to set Sunday?
McIlroy, who hasn’t played well (or often) yet this season is the Vegas pick to win, garnering 6-1 odds. Second behind him, not surprisingly, is Jordan Speith (8-1), who has turned his third season on tour into his best in just four months. He has two victories, at the Valspar Championship and Hero World Challenge, as well as two runners-up finishes and seven top 10 finishes in 10 starts.
Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters championhas an 11-1 chance to win, with oddsmakers likely citing his length and ability to recover from pine straw anywhere on Augusta National.
Rounding out Odds Shark’s top five are Dustin Johnson, another long-ball hitter and Jason Day.
Mickelson is handicapped at 22-1 after having only really contended once so far this season.
Tiger Woods has a 28-1 chance of winning, but many analysts say a victory for the veteran in his first tournament since February would be making the cut.
Here are Thursday and Friday’s tee times:
7:45 a.m. 10:52 a.m. Charley Hoffman, Brian Harman
7:56 a.m. 11:03 a.m. Larry Mize, Danny Willett, Byron Meth
8:07 a.m. 11:14 a.m. Tom Watson, Gary Woodland, Camilo Villegas
8:18 a.m. 11:25 a.m. Mike Weir, Ben Crane, Corey Conners
8:29 a.m. 11:36 a.m. Vijay Singh, Russell Henley, Darren Clarke
8:40 a.m. 11:47 a.m. Jose Maria Olazabal, Brendon Todd, Kevin Na
8:51 a.m. 12:09 p.m. Jonas Blixt, Kevin Streelman, Stephen Gallacher
9:02 a.m. 12:20 p.m. Patrick Reed, Keegan Bradley, Ian Poulter
9:13 a.m. 12:31 p.m. Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood, Anirban Lahiri
9:24 a.m. 12:42 p.m. Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Gunn Yang
9:35 a.m. 12:53 p.m. Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Antonio Murdaca
9:57 a.m. 1:04 p.m. Morgan Hoffmann, Steve Stricker, Matt Every
10:08 a.m. 1:15 p.m. Ben Crenshaw, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner
10:19 a.m. 1:26 p.m. Webb Simpson, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey
10:30 a.m. 1:37 p.m. Charl Schwartzel, Joost Luiten, Sangmoon Bae
10:41 a.m. 1:48 p.m. Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Ryan Moore
10:52 a.m. 1:59 p.m. J.B. Holmes, Martin Kaymer, Brandt Snedeker
11:03 a.m. 7:45 a.m. Ian Woosnam, Erik Compton, Marc Leishman
11:14 a.m 7:56 a.m. Trevor Immelman, Kevin Stadler, Scott Harvey
11:25 a.m. 8:07 a.m. Ben Martin, Robert Streb, Cameron Tringale
11:36 a.m. 8:18 a.m. Sandy Lyle, Seung-Yul Noh, Bradley Neil
11:47 a.m. 8:29 a.m. Bernhard Langer, Bernd Wiesberger, Geoff Ogilvy
12:09 p.m. 8:40 a.m. Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els
12:20 p.m. 8:51 a.m. Angel Cabrera, Louis Oosthuizen, *Matias Dominguez
12:31 p.m. 9:02 a.m. Mark O’Meara, Chris Kirk, Shane Lowry
12:42 p.m. 9:13 a.m. Padraig Harrington, Ryan Palmer, Thomas Bjorn
12:53 p.m. 9:24 a.m. James Hahn, Mikko Ilonen, Hunter Mahan
1:04 p.m. 9:35 a.m. Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell
1:15 p.m. 9:57 a.m. Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Billy Horschel
1:26 p.m. 10:08 a.m. Fred Couples, Branden Grace, Thongchai Jaidee
1:37 p.m. 10:19 a.m. Luke Donald, Victor Dubuisson, John Senden
1:48 p.m. 10:30 a.m. Tiger Woods, Jamie Donaldson, Jimmy Walker
1:59 p.m. 10:41 a.m. Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler