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Masters to kick off at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday

Masters to kick off at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday

Posted April. 06, 2017 07:21,   

Updated April. 06, 2017 07:30

The Masters Tournament, a race among golf grandmasters, is the kind of event that golfers take pride merely in their participation. This year’s championship, which kicks off at Augusta Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia in the U.S. on Thursday, only invites 94 elite golfers who passed the strict eligibility requirements. For a golfer to receive invitation to the Masters Tournament, which is the first event to happen among the four major annual PGA championships, he should meet one of the 19 eligibility requirements including acquisition of the title at least once in the past, and ranking within the top 50.

According to the U.S. media, three leading contenders are expected to stage fierce competition in the upcoming championship. Dustin Johnson of the U.S., ranking first in the world, has swept the three latest championships that he took part starting with the Genesis Open of the PGA Tour in February. If Johnson comes to wear "Green Jacket," he will become the first Masters winner as the top-ranked golfer in the world in 15 years after Tiger Woods in 2002. Rory McIlroy of Northern Island, who is ranking second, will achieve his career Grand Slam if he wins the Masters. McIlroy has renewed his commitment to win, saying that he would finish the last puzzle piece of his golf life.

Jordan Spieth of the U.S., ranked No. 6 in the world, has won the title once and the runner-up prize twice at the Masters. At this year’s event, he is committed to get over the pain from the last year’s Masters event, where he suffered upset loss to Danny Willett of England by playing quadruple bogeys at Hole 12 (par 3) when he was the lone lead in the final round. Spieth had an easy hole-out at Hole 12 by playing a tap-in birdie in an exercise round on Wednesday. “I should have had the same outcome one year ago, and I regret that I did not,” Spieth said. “I will forget last year’s loss due to the errors.” CBS Sports reported that the chance of winning the title as predicted by Las Vegas gamblers suggests that Johnson is atop, followed by Spieth and McIlroy who are ranked second and third, respectively.

Considering recent performance and skills, a three-way race is anticipated, but strong winds and the green dubbed ‘glass’ due to rapidly running balls at August can be variables. According to CBS Sports, gusty winds of up to 13 meters per second are forecast in the first round of the championship. “Bad weather could be a positive factor for veteran golfer Phil Mickelson (ranking 18th in the world) of the U.S., who is highly experienced,” Reuters reported. Mickelson, who is participating in the Masters for the 25th time this year, has won the title three times (2004, 2006, and 2010) so far. “I hope to rely on that knowledge and skill to keep myself in it heading into the weekend where players less experienced with the golf course will possibly miss it in the wrong spots and shoot themselves out,” Mickelson said.

Yun-Cheol Jeong trigger@donga.com