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2018 Masters As Wide Open As Ever

Enormous crowds followed Tiger Woods during his Monday practice round at Augusta National.
Not that we necessarily needed any further incentive to watch what is the most anticipated major championship in any given year but in 2018 there is plenty of additional reason to be glued to what's happening at Augusta National.

The powers that be at Augusta National have this year devised greater audience participation and there is every reason to believe the 82nd Masters will attract more eyeballs than ever before.

That four-time winner, Tiger Woods, is back for the first time since 2015 is reason enough to become engrossed over the coming days.

And considering that several regular contenders at The Masters are already in the winner's circle in 2018, this year’s version is arguably one of the most exciting in recent memory.

Woods' record at Augusta is simply stunning.

The 42-year-old has 13 top-10s in 20 starts (18 starts as a professional) including a trio of T4 results since his private life took a dramatic turn in 2009 while his injuries make his record even harder to comprehend.  

In fact, Woods’s performances at Augusta National needs to be read to be believed.

Not only do his four victories give him the equal second highest total of all-time behind Jack Nicklaus’ six, but on six other occasions he has finished inside the top 4, all of those in the nine starts since his last win in 2005.

Woods served notice to the golfing world in March that what many thought was impossible just a few months ago might in fact be achievable, namely a 5th Masters title and a 15th major title.

That it would come 21 years after his historic 12-shot win in 1997 would make the feat, if it is to happen, even more meritorious and provide further evidence of just how much we have missed one of the game’s top-two golfers of all time.

A Woods win would indeed be a fairytale but there are just so many others for who a victory would be no real surprise and who have their own history to create.

As has been the case since 2015, if Rory McIlroy was to win at Augusta National he would become only the sixth man to complete the career Grand Slam.

His recent win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational has him primed for what might be a very special week in not only the life of Rory McIlory but in golf.

Phil Mickelson has thrown out signals of late that a 4th Masters title is not beyond him despite approaching his 48th birthday.

Three wins, one runner-up and five 3rd place finishes tell the story of Mickelson’s liking for this event and venue and if he is looking to become the oldest player to win at Augusta.

Mickelson’s form in 2017 has been close to his best with a win at the WGC event in Mexico and several other very impressive finishes. He is poised to produce something very special.

Hideki Matsuyama is another for whom a win would be history-making.

No Japanese man has won a major championship but Matsuyama has shown in his short career that he has the game and the constitution to do so.

It would be no surprise if The Masters is the event for that milestone to come given his good record in the event both as an amateur and professional but an injury earlier in the year might work against Matsuyama.

Jordan Spieth served notice in Houston last week that he is back close to his best form and his record at Augusta since his debut in 2014 (T2, 1st, T2, T11) is stunning.

Two-time champion Bubba Watson seems to have a game and imagination almost purpose-built for Augusta and his pair of PGA Tour wins this year have considerably brightened his chances of slipping on a third Green Jacket.

Australia waited, sometimes agonisingly, nearly 80 years for its first Masters title and Jason Day looms as the nation's great white hope to follow in the footsteps of Adam Scott.

Day’s near misses in 2011 and 2013 indicate this is a major he can win to add yet another title to his brilliant career record.

The Queenslander has played sparingly in 2018 but when he has, he has done well, with a win at Torrey Pines and runner-up at Pebble Beach.

These are but a few of the storylines that make the 2018 version of the Masters perhaps as wide open and intriguing as ever.

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