The 2017 Masters begins this week at Augusta National Golf Club and it promises to be one of the best golfing weeks of the year, just like it is every year. There’s the typical few names who have been labeled as the top contenders and for the second year in a row, there was plenty of buzz surrounding the question mark over Tiger’s participation in the weeks leading up to the event but he will not take any part further than the Champions Dinner.
The defending champon, Danny Willett has had a torrid year so far and it reamins to be seen if he can string together four good rounds to give retaining his title a shot. His best finish has been a T-5 at the Maybank Malaysian Open but even that came after he led by three entering the final round only to see his chances disappear due to a poor 73.
Augusta National will test the golfers of their all round games and it is for sure that the player playing his best golf will win. Weaknesses will be exposed at Augusta and no player can expect to challenge for the title if they aren’t on their A-Game.
Here we take a look at the top 5 contenders for the week:
#5 – Jason Day
Jason Day hasn’t had a particularly bright 2017 so far but it sure has been eventful for the former World No.1. The Aussie took time off and sat out the final few events in 2016 citing a need to rest his back (ligament strain) which had been bothering him for quite some time.
Day missed the wraparound season but hasn’t found any momentum since his return recording only one top-10 finish in 7 events which meant that he had to surrender his 47-week reign as the world No. 1 to Dustin Johnson.
Then things took another bad turn with his mother being diagnosed with lung-cancer earlier in March and he had to withdraw after his first round match at the WGC-Dell Matchplay Championships in Austin, Texas. Day admitted that the emotional stress had been having a huge bearing on his on-course form.
However, Day who won his first major championship at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2015, expressed that it has been his lifelong dream to win a green jacket and he has come close with two top-three finishes and another top-10 in his six appearnaces so far.
With his mother now recovering well, Day headed to Augusta last week playing nine holes three days in a row and also working intensively with long-time coach and caddie, Colin Swatton.
“I think I have to come in here with less expectation on myself,” said Day.
“I usually say, ‘I’m going to go out there and try and win’ but with what happened to my mum, playing golf was the furthest thing from my mind.
“I’ll do the best job I can preparing and trying to win ... I’m not counting myself out, but I think I just want to come into Augusta with a different attitude because of what’s happened with my mum.”
However, Day’s good preparation at Augusta last week coupled with the fact that his off-course stress has been marginalized will boost his chances of adding another major trophy to his CV.
“For the first time in about a month-and-a-half, I’m happy to be on the golf course; I’m enjoying myself again and I’m thankful to compete at the Masters, which I absolutely love,” said Day.
“It’s been really, really hard to enjoy myself. I think things are starting to brighten up.”
Day finished in the top-10 in three majors in 2016 before finishing second at the PGA Championship.