Rejoice golf fans — Masters week is finally here. And this year, it’s back in its traditional early April slot on the calendar.
With the azaleas in full bloom, the best golfers in the world will descend on Augusta National vying for the green jacket. The golf is sure to be great, and the storylines abound.
Here are five storylines to keep an eye on this week.
1. Can DJ repeat?
Dustin Johnson steamrolled the field at last year’s fall Masters, winning by five strokes over Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith. Can he replicate that performance five months later?
Johnson is not nearly in the peak form he was last year coming into the Masters as he’s only finished inside the top 10 once this year, but he also hasn’t finished outside the top 10 at Augusta since 2014.
If he’s able to take the crown, he’ll be the first back-to-back winner since Tiger Woods accomplished the feat in 2001 and 2002.
2. Is Jordan back?
Jordan Spieth’s game has been trending in the right direction for most of 2021, and after a victory at the Texas Open last week — his first win in nearly four years — he’s all of the sudden a trendy pick to win his second green jacket.
Now that the Golden Child appears to have busted his long slump, Augusta National seems like the perfect place for him to return to his former prominence.
3. Will Rory complete the career grand slam?
Ever since Rory McIlroy’s disastrous back-nine collapse at the 2011 Masters, it’s seemed like only a matter of time before the superstar wins at Augusta. But in the 10 years since that nightmare finish, he’s yet to slip on the green jacket.
McIlroy’s name always appears on leaderboards at Augusta National, but he rarely is a factor late on Sunday. Now with the added pressure of completing the career grand slam at the Masters, the urgency is only amplified.
Will McIlroy be able to conquer his demons and (finally) get the job done?
4. Westy’s swan song?
The calendar reads 2021, but Lee Westwood is playing like it’s 2011.
The 47-year-old won on the European Tour last January, and he’s had a pair of runner-up finishes on U.S. soil this year. With his recent resurgence, Westwood has reentered the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since 2013. He has to feel good about his chances heading to Augusta.
Westwood was long considered the best player to have never won a major, and if he hopes to erase his name from that list, this week might be his last chance.
5. Is Brooks healthy enough to contend?
The PGA Tour announced last month that Brooks Koepka was withdrawing from the Players Championship citing a right knee injury. He has not made a start since.
The Koepka camp has been mum on the extent of the ailment, and many speculated that he would not be healthy enough to tee it up at Augusta National. But according to an Instagram post from his now-fiancée Jena Sims, Koepka is on the ground in Georgia.
Koepka also posted a cryptic story on Instagram suggesting he will indeed give it a go at the Masters.
It remains to be seen just how healthy Koepka is, but this will certainly be a storyline to keep an eye on throughout the week.