Rory McIlroy admits to feeling the pressure ahead of Masters


According to our analysis of PGA data, the only golfer now on tour who looks to have a chance is Jordan Spieth, a 23-year-old who won the Masters, which is held in Augusta, Ga., in 2015.

"I think the whole golfing world feels for Jordan Spieth", Nicklaus tweeted. In world ranking terms not quite the equivalent of an eight-shot victory, but close.

"I m playing well coming into this week so hopefully I can continue that success and I m looking forward to giving myself a chance to win on Sunday".

After watching Spieth lose an opportunity to become just the fourth player to win back-to-back Masters, Jack Nicklaus felt compelled to tweet his sympathies. So he never anxious about anyone other than himself. But they understand and know that.

If there is an exception to that trend, it is Johnson.

Every spring, we don't know it's spring until The Masters tells us it's spring. As is history's verdict on his present run of form: a new and sustained period of Woods-like domination, or merely a relatively short-lived hot streak?

Spieth said that when he returned to Augusta National in December to play with friends, he had mixed feelings while driving up Magnolia Lane, but he said his emotions this week have been overwhelmingly positive.

Mickelson prepared for the first Masters Champions Dinner in almost 60 years since Palmer's first green jacket in 1958. He certainly sounds confident.

Despite all that, Spieth wants to persuade himself that the 12th is just another hole and that his collapse there was just another bump in his career, "one of many tournaments I've lost given a certain performance on a hole or a stretch of holes".

"I'm excited about the opportunity ahead, which is now I can go back and really tear this golf course up", Spieth said.

"It's never over", McIlroy said.

Day moved his mother, Dening, from Australia to his home in OH earlier this year after the cancer was discovered in one of her lungs, and the prognosis was terminal.

"Not necessarily aggressive in terms of going for flags, but aggressive in whatever you are doing". Obviously didn't want to but I tried to turn it around the corner if I could, right-to-left is not my forte for most of my life, but I could still play the shot when I had to. Maybe it's a good thing.

"I did a practice session in Houston on Saturday, got here Saturday evening and played Sunday, attractive conditions and really found the game I was looking for".

Wednesday at the Masters is supposed to be the "fun" day - roaring hole-in-ones, golfer's kids, wives and girlfriends subbing as caddies.

Take Spieth, the one man within the top six who can legitimately claim that putting is the strength of his game. He was a combined 32 under in 2014 and is 21 over in the past two years.

What that will mean when Spieth arrives there on Thursday with the pressure of the first major of the year, or on Sunday if he again is in the chase, remains to be seen.

So which potential winners at this year's Masters fit that first-time mold?

Day, an Australian who is ranked third in the world, said his chances to tee it up in the first major of the season depend on his mother's progress following recent cancer surgery.

Tommy Fleetwood, one of 11 players in the Masters field from England, is here for the first time as a player, but the second time overall.

A similar cloud hangs over Matsuyama. "It always will be here", three-time Masters victor Phil Mickelson said on Tuesday.

"My game is not at the same level right now", the 25-year-old Japanese concedes. "I feel like the generation that are playing the game now are going to have elongated careers due to fitness".

"Around here, don't take on too much".

Conversations paused under the oak tree next to Augusta National's clubhouse Tuesday morning when Johnson sauntered toward the tee for another practice round.

Who else could win the Masters 2017?

Palmer, who died last September at age 87 while awaiting heart surgery, was a seven-time major champion and four-time Masters victor who pioneered sports sponsorship and television deals. I hope to be a little more aggressive off the tee. "It's imaginative golf. It's feel golf. I've got four days to figure it out".