Our quick guide to the five Australians playing in this week’s 2016 US Masters.
2016 Masters: 1st & 2nd round tee times (AEST)
Thurs 10:20pm – Steven Bowditch, Jim Herman (Round 2 – Sat 1:16am)
Friday 12:43am – Marc Leishman, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson (Round 2 – Sat 3:39am)
Friday 1:05am – Adam Scott, Kevin Kisner, Brooks Koepka (Round 2 – 4:01am Sat)
Friday 1:16am – Cameron Smith, Mike Weir, Sammy Schmitz (Round 2 – 10:20pm Sat)
Friday 3:06am – Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els (Round 2 – Friday 11:59pm)
World number one Jason Day arrives at Augusta National with huge confidence on the back of two recent victories including an emphatic win at the WGC Dell Match Play. Day loves The Masters finishing with two top-5 finishes in his first two starts and primes himself for any major championship.
As much as Day is trying to deflect the favourtism, he is the favourite this week. And while there are plenty of other challengers this week including Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and our own Adam Scott, Day is every chance to cash in on that favourtism and be donning the green jacket on Sunday afternoon.
Steve Williams is back on the bag for Scott’s stroll around Augusta National this week in search for his second green jacket. It’s hard to split Scott and Day when it comes to confidence arriving at Augusta. Scott brings with him two impressive wins in 2016, #1 on the Fed Ex Cup rankings, a previous Masters victory in the memory bank and most importantly confidence with the putter.
Scott arrived at Augusta ranked as the 9th best putter on the PGA Tour. And with Williams on the bag to assist with some green reads this week, it would not surprise at all to see Scott in Butler Cabin on Sunday.
Because of the recent highs from Day and Scott, Marc Leishman flies well under the radar at the 2016 Masters but the boy from Warrnambool will have a sneaking suspicion he could contend this week.
Leishman has been building nicely over the past six weeks putting together some respectable results including some low rounds of golf. Leishman can call upon his fabulous 2013 Masters when he finished in a tie for fourth and will be glad to be back at Augusta National after missing last year’s tournament due to his wife’s illness.
In contrast to the form that Day, Scott and Leishman bring to Augusta, Bowditch arrives with his game in disarray. Bowditch has a positive outlook on his poor recent form and knows as well as anyone how quickly things can change with golf. While it would be a surprise to see Bowditch in the throes of the action on Sunday, he is a streaky player. It may only take a few birdies, or perhaps an eagle at the 2nd to turn everything around.
Smith made everyone stand up and stake notice with his incredible finish in his first-ever major championship. An amazing tie for 4th place at the 2015 US Open earned Smith a spot in the field this week for his first look at Augusta National.
At just 22-years-old Smith has an old head on his shoulders and is settling into his rookie year on the PGA Tour with some good results. Some players get a little awe-struck in their first Masters Tournament but if anyone can post a great result on debut, it is Smith.