Whip up your famous pimento cheese, plant eye-poppingly colorful azaleas and trim your yard to precisely 3/8 of an inch.
Pump in 98 of the world’s best golfers and thousands of guests dressed in their finest springtime getups, and you’ll be at Augusta National Golf Club for the 2015 Masters Tournament. But if you stop your conquest of becoming Augusta National after making the pimento cheese, it’s still going to be a great weekend.
Here are a few things you need to know leading up to the 2015 Masters, which starts Thursday:
3. Tiger’s playing, and his greatest motivation? “Winning. I like it,” he said Tuesday. The four-time Masters champion will tee off late Thursday with Jamie Donaldson, Jimmy Walker and what’s sure to be the largest gallery of the day. He’s ranked 111th in the world after spending most of the past 15 years with only a single “1” in front of his name. And anything’s in play. He could miss the cut. He could withdraw with back problems. He could be in contention to win a green jacket 10 years after winning his last one. The air of uncertainly only adds to the drama. The one thing for certain — he will not win today’s par-3 contest. No one has ever won both the par-3 and the Masters, and according to Tiger, he doesn’t want to be the one flying in the face of history.
2. It’s the last go-round at the Masters for Ben Crenshaw. The 1984 and 1995 Masters champion will tee off for the 44th and final time this week, placing him fourth all-time in total Masters played behind only Arnold Palmer, Raymond Floyd and Doug Ford. After his improbable win in ’95, Crenshaw said, “I believe in fate. Fate has dictated another championship here, as it has done so many times.”
1. No one is bigger than this place. From golfers to sportswriters, members to volunteer workers and guests, everyone has reverence for Augusta National. In some ways, it’s a throwback to simpler times, before cellphones and social media and giant advertising engulfed our world. Players bounce around more freely, defending champion Bubba Watson saying it makes him “feel like a kid again.” It’s supremely detailed without extreme extravagance, a perfect venue for golf’s premier event, celebrating historic greatness for the 79th time.
Enjoy the scene as it unfolds.
Tournament predictions: 1. Jordan Spieth; 2. Dustin Johnson; 3. Rory McIlroy; 4. Adam Scott; 5. Matt Kuchar
Johnson is covering The Masters for the seventh time. Follow his Masters coverage on Twitter @vince