Masters 2018: Players to Watch & Tee Times
For some golfers, the days leading up to the Masters are the closest we'll each ever get to reliving the sheer infectious excitement of Christmas time as a youngster.
Unlike Christmas though, when all the anticipation quickly dissipates soon after we've opened all our gifts and invariably lie in a food-induced coma that leaves us confined to the couch and full of regret, we get to spread Masters joy over four full days.
As a final prelude to this week's events in Georgia, we've been mulling over the 'players to watch' - and some noteworthy outsiders - that we'll be keeping a keen eye on as the Masters takes its annual centre stage.
Here's our semi thought out Masters tips - for what it's worth - and their respective tee times (EDT).
These guys need no introduction and have all the credentials to be in the mix when Masters Sunday comes around:
Jon Rahm - 1.38pm (T) & 10.42am (F) with Scott & McIlroy
If you're looking for a guy who fits the bill as a Masters champion-in-waiting it seems unthinkable that Spaniard Jon Rahm will not one day emulate his compatriot Sergio Garcia (and, of course, Seve) in donning the Green Jacket.
He has a win already this year, although the form since has been rather less inspiring. Still, Rahm could take Augusta National apart on any given day and one further carrot this week is the potential to climb to world number one in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Catch the highlights from last year - including an awesome eagle on the 13th @3.12 - below:
Justin Thomas - 10.53am (T) & 1.38pm (F) with Garcia & Redman
The most recent major champion will be on many-a-radar this week in Georgia.
Finishing last year as Player of the Year and picking up multiple wins (not to mention the 59 at the Sony Open) means the young Kentuckian has to be respected.
While the course is not necessarily a 'bomber's track', with Thomas being one of the longest drivers on Tour, if he can keep the ball in play we could see some pretty low scores from him this week.
Watch JT's booming golf swing below:
Jordan Spieth - 1.49pm (T) & 10.53am (F) with Noren & Oosthuizen
With one Green Jacket to his name already sandwiched neatly between two runner-up spots, Jordan Spieth certainly ticks the 'horse for course' box.
With that said, he does have scar tissue from the 2016 Masters where he hit two balls into the water on the par-3 12th hole and they would ultimately derail his efforts to go back-to-back at the championship.
Regardless, we're backing the former world number one to improve upon last season's T-11 and challenge right at the head of affairs.
Worth a look (Outsiders)
Time to focus in on some of the players who could challenge towards the business end of the leaderboard but may fly under the radar
Marc Leishman - 10.42am (T) & 1.27pm (F) with Woods & Fleetwood
As the winner of last year's BMW Championship during the FedEx Playoffs, and with plenty more impressive performances under his belt besides, Marc Leishman is a safe bet to perform well this week.
He survived each of the four major cuts last year and finished an impressive T-6 at Royal Birkdale during the 146th Open Championship. Finishing T-7 at Bay Hill a few weeks ago points towards that all-important pre-Augusta form.
Here's a recent 'what's in the bag' with the big Aussie:
Daniel Berger - 9.36am (T) & 12.32pm (F) with Singh & Kodaira
Another player out of the highly-lauded 'Class of 2011' Daniel Berger has the game to emulate his good friend Jordan Spieth by winning the Masters in the not too distant future.
It's true that he may not be in great form this year but we're expecting that good times are coming for Berger.
He's a dual winner of the St. Judas Classic on the PGA Tour - here are the highlights of last year's win:
Xander Schauffele - 1.05pm (T) & 9.58am (F) with Kisner & Pieters
Winning last year's season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake help catapult Schauffele to the Rookie of the Year title (and an eye-popping $3.5M). He's already proven that he belongs on Tour and will be in the mix for big tournaments in years to come.
Bit of an outside shout this one, but of the rookies teeing it up at the Masters this week, we like Xander's chances.
Catch the September 2017 victory interview from East Lake below:
FYI - you can get the full tee time listings HERE.
Who are your 'players to watch' at this year's Masters tournament? Any outsiders we should be keeping an eye out for? Let us know below.
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