The first major of the season kicks off on Thursday as a star-studded field challenge for Masters glory and Rory McIlroy looks ready to etch his name into the history books.
Generally, when it comes to golf tournaments, I always steer clear of backing the favourite but, in this case, it is hard to look past Northern Irishman McIlroy on the eve of the Georgia event.
The 29-year-old has been in sensational form in 2019, recording six top-10s while he also recently landed his maiden Players Championship title after holding off American Jim Furyk by a stroke on the final day.
Masters glory is all that stands between the world number three and a place in golfing history. Only five players have managed to achieve the Grand Slam – Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Player.
McIlroy’s stats on the PGA Tour this season make for fantastic reading. He is first in strokes gained off-the-tee, tee-to-green and in total, while he is 10th in Greens in Regulation and 12th in putting average.
The County-Down star has also finished in the top-10 on his last five appearances at Augusta National and it would be surprising if he were not in the mix come Sunday evening.
Molinari has enjoyed a sensational 10 months to rocket him to new levels and will be feeling confident of at least bettering his best Masters result of joint-19th in 2012.
The Italian, who broke his major duck at last year’s Open Championship, is in great form heading into the event after recently landing the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Every aspect of the 36-year-old’s game has improved over the past 10 months and it is very hard to pass him up at odds of 7/4 to finish in the top 10, while he is also tempting at 20/1 to win the Green Jacket.
2015 champion Spieth may not be in scintillating form heading into the Masters, but his game is tailor-made for the Augusta track and this has been proven since he made his debut in the event in 2014.
The American has led after the first round three times in Georgia – going on to win once – and will be hoping a return to one of his favoured venues will spark him into life.
Spieth did show signs of a revival at last week’s Valero Texas Open after moving into contention at the halfway stage and that positivity can be taken into Thursday’s opening round.
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