AUGUSTA, GA (WTOC) - Eighty-seven players will tee off in The Masters at Augusta National on Thursday, but perhaps no two players need to win more than the two odds-on favorites - Roy McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.
For McIlroy, the green jacket is the only major trophy he hasn’t won. This will be his fifth attempt at winning the career grand slam at Augusta. The Northern Irishman says he feels a change in mindset has led to great results this year, and a confidence entering the tournament.
“It’s not as if I’m coming here to try and win the golf tournament, but I know that if I have the right attitude and I have my goals that I want to achieve this year, the by-product could be winning this golf tournament,” McIlroy said.
Dustin Johnson earned his twentieth career victory earlier this year, but only has one major championship to show for it. Despite his lack of major titles, Johnson doesn’t feel this week is a must-win.
“Everyone that’s out here wants to win. For me, I want to win every week, but I don’t need to win. You put more pressure on yourself if you’re saying you need to win," Johnson said.
Johnson tees off Thursday at 1:38 with Bryson DeChambeau and Jason Day. McIlroy will play with Rickie Fowler and Cameron Smith at 11:15.
Rory and DJ have had plans to be in Augusta for quite a while. It’s a much different story for the last guy in the field - Corey Conners.
Conners won the Texas Open Sunday to earn a last minute spot in The Masters.
“My wife was checking us back in for out flight back to Palm Beach Sunday morning on the iPad in the hotel room, and I’m like, ‘don’t check us in for that flight quite yet. I have some other plan.' So yeah, now we’re here.”
As for Conners, he’ll make the short drive to Hilton Head when his week at The Masters concludes. The Canadian committed to the RBC Heritage Tuesday morning.
For now though, it’s all about what’s happening in Augusta. Wednesday, that includes the always popular Par 3 contest, which starts around noon.
The second day of practice rounds for the Masters Tournament in Augusta was cut short again due to rain.
The weather siren went off just before 10 a.m. Tuesday, asking the patrons to exit the course and seek shelter as thunderstorms and lightning were approaching. We were able to catch up with a few golf fans from our area - two who are there for the first time.
“Surreal, that’s the only word I can put on it,” said Mike Rowe from Statesboro. “Back home in Ireland growing up, you watch The Masters every year on TV, and it’s one of those things that I always wanted to go to, but I’ll never get to go.”
“Bringing people for the first time, you can get that feeling back of, ‘Wow, you’re really here, you’re seeing something that a lot of people don’t get to,’ and to bring that experience to somebody, it’s fun to watch them,” said Bluffton resident, Jeff Spencer.
“We hope that it will clear up a little bit and we’ll be able to come back," said Alex Morrell from Statesboro.
“It’s one day out of the year, that’s it. Take it or leave it, and of course, most people take it,” said Ken Eberman, Masters patron from Pennsylvania.
Patrons who had Tuesday practice rounds tickets had a decision to make - whether or not to head out to Augusta National under an all-day threat of rain. Actually, there was little choice for most we spoke to.
“Not going to bother me at all. I’m at The Masters,” said Sylvester Ridgeway, Masters patron from Orlando.
“We just came prepared,” said Lynn Becraft, Masters patron from Virginia. “We’re staying in Savannah with our son, so we just came up here and hoped for the best. So far, so good.”
Just being at The Masters and Augusta National is the opportunity of a lifetime for most people. Some have traveled from across the country to be there, so as long as you came prepared, weather isn’t going to get in the way...until it did.
It finally cleared up, and fans were able to go back in and enjoy the Augusta National for the first time.
“I’m just happy that I’ve come a long way and they weren’t going to close the course and I just wanted to go and get a chance to set foot on Augusta National. It’s a dream come true.”