SEVERE WX : Flash Flood Watch View Alerts

Masters 2018: Augusta abuzz as anticipation builds for major

There is something in the air at Augusta.Swirling among the towering pines and banks of azaleas is a whiff of ...

Posted: Apr 4, 2018 1:35 PM
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 1:35 PM

There is something in the air at Augusta.

Swirling among the towering pines and banks of azaleas is a whiff of something special.

Masters gets under way at Augusta Thursday

Year's first major being touted as blockbuster

Tiger Woods' return the major storyline

A mingling mist of then and now, as golf's hottest young players coincide with the twin resurgence of ageing past champions Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at the Masters.

It's being hyped as potentially the best Masters in recent times.

The budding bromance between Woods and Mickelson, once arch rivals turned Tuesday practice partners, just stirs this strange soup in the year's first major at the spectacular Augusta National.

Four-time champion Woods, 42, is the headline act, playing at Augusta for the first time since 2015 after undergoing a fourth back procedure -- spine fusion surgery -- last April.

He is playing pain free and recent results suggest he has a lively chance of earning a 15th major title this week, 10 years after his last.

Roars reverberating around the towering Georgia pines are a thing of Masters legend on a Sunday afternoon, but Woods sparked Monday and Tuesday roars with a handful of eagles in practice.

"I have never seen it like that here, ever," he told the Golf Channel. "I've never seen that kind of excitement."

READ: Tiger Woods' Masters return sparks old-school 'Tiger mania'

The 47-year-old Mickelson, an owner of three Masters green jackets, won his first tournament for five years last month and appears re-energized. Victory Sunday would make him the oldest Masters champion, eclipsing the 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus in 1986.

And it would take him alongside former world No.1 Woods, who for much of his career has been a thorn in his side. The pair have grown closer of late and Mickelson is the first to applaud his countryman's impact on the game.

"Nobody respects and appreciates what he's done for the game more than me," Mickelson told a media conference.

READ: Fan favorite Phil Mickelson enjoying golfing renaissance

Grand slam chasing

Rory McIlroy is another who has begun 2018 looking refreshed, following a year hampered by injury, and the Northern Irishman also won recently.

The 28-year-old is bidding for a green jacket to complete the career grand slam, the set of all four of golf's major titles. Only five others have done it -- Woods, Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.

McIlroy has previous at Augusta -- that famous meltdown in 2011 when leading by four -- but he has since won four majors and is the only player to have placed in the top 10 in the last four Masters.

"I'm an avid fan of the history of the game and I know a win here would put me alongside some of the greatest to have ever played this game and that would mean an awful lot to me but I have to try to clear my head of that come Thursday morning," he told reporters.

READ: Rory McIlroy -- Holywood star with box-office appeal

Then there's Jordan Spieth, with a victory in 2015 and two seconds in four appearances at Augusta.

The 24-year-old won a thrilling British Open last summer for a third major title but after a slow start to the season he was third in his last run out in Houston.

But as good as Spieth has been at Augusta, the spectre of his collapse on the 12th hole when leading in the final round in 2016 will always lurk around Amen Corner.

"I should a have chance to win this week but if I don't it's coming soon," Spieth said Tuesday.

Another American Bubba Watson has won twice at Augusta and clinched the recent WGC Match Play event in Austin, Texas. The lanky left-hander is mercurial, but saves his best for the Masters.

The winner of golf's last major, the US PGA, is Justin Thomas and the American, a childhood friend of Spieth, is arguably golf's hottest talent.

The 24-year-old is only playing his third Masters but victory at the Honda Classic and second to Mickelson in Mexico confirms the Kentucky kid should be in the reckoning.

"This is a course where you don't need to be on your AA game to get around, you just need to be smart," said Thomas.

And all that's without mentioning world No.1 Dustin Johnson, who missed last year following a freak injury from slipping down stairs at his rental home on the eve of the event.

The big-hitting 33-year-old has become somewhat becalmed on a single major victory at the 2016 US Open, but when he is on song he can overpower the field.

"This year is a completely different year and I've got a lot of confidence here this week," he told reporters.

READ: How Gary Player took the game of golf global

'The buzz is so special'

England's Justin Rose, the Olympic champion, was runner-up to Spaniard Sergio Garcia last year and was also second in 2015 and should be in the mix, while world No.2 Jon Rahm of Spain has form, if not Masters experience.

"For this week I'm high on confidence, low on expectation because there's so many scenarios that could play out," Rose, the 2013 US Open winner, told the Golf Channel.

Australian Jason Day is another recent winner looking to build on decent Masters credentials following his runner-up spot on his debut at Augusta in 2011.

"Everyone's kind of solely focused on Tiger and what he's going to do here and seeing if he can get to No 15," said the former world No. 1. "That's fine with me.

"I think on my good day I've got a good chance of beating him. I honestly believe that. I think that there's 10, 20 other guys out there that honestly believe they can beat Tiger as well at his good day."

READ: Indian golfer: 'I absolutely believe I can win the Masters'

As the only one of golf's four majors to be played at the same venue every year, Augusta has built up myriad memories over the years.

From the spectacular setting and enduring traditions such as Tuesday's Champions dinner and Wednesday's par-three competition, to spectacular shots, infamous collapses and great champions, the Masters is a spring rite and one of sport's most revered events.

This year, it seems, could have extra gloss.

Visit CNN.com/golf for more news, features and videos

"The buzz this year is so special and running deep and wide," said former champion Zach Johnson.

"Having Tiger back at this level is awesome, through the young guns, through Phil, there's one thing this tournament has and that's drama."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 752108

Reported Deaths: 13816
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
Lake558431013
Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
Porter19369327
Johnson18486389
Hendricks17696317
Clark13233195
Madison13176344
Vigo12631253
LaPorte12429221
Monroe12226176
Delaware10970198
Howard10349224
Kosciusko9643121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8174157
Warrick7864156
Floyd7815180
Grant7248179
Wayne7164201
Boone6979103
Morgan6768141
Dubois6224118
Marshall6214116
Cass6024110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502396
Lawrence4753122
Gibson445595
Clinton443555
Harrison441775
DeKalb440385
Montgomery439890
Whitley406744
Huntington403381
Steuben400859
Miami395769
Jasper389155
Knox377691
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332753
Daviess3035100
Wells295481
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey274335
LaGrange273272
Scott270356
Clay267148
Washington246336
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228159
Fountain222048
Sullivan214843
Owen212358
Fulton204043
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175344
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120847
Newton114936
Brown104443
Benton102614
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84115
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109697

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1289521469
Cuyahoga1158802216
Hamilton814201251
Montgomery525861049
Summit484551006
Lucas43384824
Butler39098606
Stark33355930
Lorain25689506
Warren24612305
Mahoning22388602
Lake21219389
Clermont20138253
Delaware18892136
Licking16671225
Fairfield16589204
Trumbull16560483
Medina15618273
Greene15292248
Clark14244306
Wood13296200
Portage13254216
Allen11919239
Richland11611211
Miami10857225
Wayne9153225
Columbiana9039230
Muskingum8909135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8649139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6999133
Ross6948163
Geauga6850151
Scioto6540106
Belmont6159174
Union585049
Lawrence5741102
Jefferson5683159
Huron5554122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5321109
Athens524460
Auglaize502487
Mercer487785
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435997
Putnam4336104
Defiance432399
Fulton432274
Crawford4046110
Brown402761
Logan387678
Preble3859105
Clinton379266
Ottawa373581
Highland360266
Williams348578
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318454
Perry297350
Morrow291940
Fayette285750
Hardin275765
Henry273867
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269360
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197548
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110124
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 75°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 75°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
78° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 80°
Daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms will increase the flood threat across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events