The 2021 Masters is almost upon us and that means a return to the tradition of Augusta National in April. Last year's November Masters was indeed a unique spectacle, but golf's greatest major belongs in the springtime.
Here at Hole19 HQ, we can't wait for the play to get underway, so we've been looking forward to next week and listing the reasons we are super pumped for the first major championship of 2021.
The Ceremonial Tee Shot
The tradition of Masters honorary starters and the ceremonial first tee shot officially began back in 1963. During November's edition, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were front and centre once again.
Return of the Patrons
While the November Masters was a welcome slice of major action for a hungry golf public - and certainly better than no Masters at all - it just didn't feel right without the patrons in attendance.
Thankfully, this year's Masters has returned to its usual April slot, and although we aren't exactly sure how many patrons will get through the gates, there will be an atmosphere of sorts.
The Beauty of Augusta National
An April Masters brings with it an Augusta National in full bloom with bright, vibrant colours at every turn. The azaleas, the rhododendrons, the cherry blossoms and the many towering pines will look spectacular in the spring sunshine.
Arguably the most famous stretch of holes in golf, Amen will play a pivotal role in determining the 2021 Masters champion.
Although many people refer to the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes collectively as "Amen Corner," technically, it begins with the approach to the 11th green and finishes with the tee shot at the par-5 13th.
We've seen some disastrous, card-wrecking scores over the years, and 2021 will likely be no different.
A Sunday Meltdown
OK, this is probably a little cheeky of us. We don't actually want a golfer to throw away their chances of Masters glory, but such are the high stakes on Masters Sunday that a player can easily crumble in the face of adversity. And it only adds to the drama for the watching public.
High-profile collapses in recent years include Rory McIlroy back in 2011, and Jordan Spieth in 2016, who dumped two balls into Rae's Creek on Augusta's 12th hole as Danny Willett reeled him in. The Englishman would ultimately hang on for his maiden major championship win.
DJ's Masters Defence
Last year's Masters champ broke away from his usual restrained demeanour to shed a few tears as the gravity of his second major championship victory slowly hit home.
Not since Tiger Woods in 2002 have we seen a golfer go back-to-back at Augusta National, and it would take a monumental effort to see Dustin Johnson claim his second Green Jacket in less than five months.
Stranger things have happened, though.
Bryson's Big Hitting
We expect Bryson DeChambeau to be a little less bullish this year if he's asked for his 'par' score at Augusta National. In November, he irked a subsection of fans when he stated his belief that the Masters venue played as a par-68 in his eyes.
While he failed to live up to the hype last time around, if DeChambeau somehow managed to spread-eagle the field - just like he did at Winged Foot - it could stoke the flames of the ongoing distance debate and lead to possible ramifications for golf equipment design.
Regardless, we can't wait to watch it all unfold.
Spieth Ready to Challenge
Over the past week, Jordan Spieth revealed he suffered a hand injury in 2018, which caused him severe pain for a pretty significant period. Unsurprisingly, his recent impressive form has coincided with his first actual pain-free period since then, and he has to be feared at this year's opening major championship.
Three finishes of T-4 or better in his last six events point towards a game that's well on the road to recovery, and he could be in good shape to challenge once again.
A McIlroy Career Grand Slam?
Rory McIlroy's usual swing coach Michael Bannon hasn't travelled to the US during the Covid pandemic, so the Northern Irishman has turned to Pete Cowan to attempt to find that missing ingredient pre-Augusta.
It's been a real struggle for McIlroy recently, so much so that he has dropped out of the world's top ten. You do get the feeling, though, that a few simple tweaks to his game - and perhaps the mental approach - could see the four-time major champ challenge at Augusta once again.
The Presentation in the Butler Cabin
We love watching the champion's interview in the Butler Cabin directly after their victory, before being presented with the famous Green Jacket.
After selecting Justin Thomas in our predictions for The Players Championship earlier this month, let's see if we can keep the hot streak going with our top Masters picks coming next week.