The Masters greatest putt: Select your all-time Augusta favourites

World number four Spieth claimed the U.S. Open title in the same year as his maiden major triumph at Augusta and was crowned Open champion at Royal Birkdale last July. "I felt that anticipation and that hype, and I almost built it up in my head a little bit too much", he said.

"I mean, he got hit by a bus and came back and won major championships".

"He's got a little bit of an intimidation factor still".

It was 6.15 in the evening and there were no other players around, just Woods and his caddie Joe LaCava - oh, and a wall of humanity 20 deep behind the ropes, snaking along the walkway and into the far green distance. "I wish I could tell you, I wish I knew, but all of a sudden I have this pop, and my body and my speed's back and my timing".

Woods, 42, is second to the all-time record 18 major wins of Jack Nicklaus. "Just to win a championship you need to make a key putt at the right time, and that's what didn't happen previous year". He gave a few Augusta National ball marks to a gray-haired spectator wearing a Philadelphia Eagles hat.

"Among the players who have a chance to win here this week, Tiger and Phil have so much experience in every set of conditions around this golf course". I think that's pretty clear to everyone with the way he's played and continued to get better.

"You hear guys talk about the early 2000s and that intimidation factor". But as Garcia proved a year ago, it can happen just when least expected, and we would not at all be surprised to hear the screams of "Kooooooch" ring out around the greens on Sunday, when one of golf's truly nice guys could well be getting sized up for a green jacket.

Three-time Masters victor and five-time major champion Mickelson tees off fourth-from-last at 1:27 p.m. Thursday alongside fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar.

The 37-year-old Englishman won last year's WGC event in Shanghai and last month was fifth at the Valspar Championship and third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"Matt played great today and we really had a lot of fun", Woods said.

More news: Mexican Caravan: Military Will Guard US-Mexico Border
More news: Root: We threw absolutely everything at New Zealand
More news: 'Riverdale' Star KJ Apa Replacing Racist YouTuber in 'The Hate U Give'

Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, said he has never watched the video of his dramatic back-nine Sunday duel with Garcia, who captured his first major title by overcoming the British star.

Depending on conditions, he said he'll likely hit driver instead of his 3-wood on Nos.

Rory McIlroy begins his latest bid to capture the Grand Slam at the US Masters.

"That was a great introductory to what you felt trying to win a major championship, what you sensed out there, the feeling of the crowds, the feeling of, can you push far enough mentally and physically?" said Day, now ranked 11th in the world.

The other cagey veteran last won in August 2013, two weeks after Mickelson captured the Claret Jug at Muirfield; this golfer hasn't taken a major in nearly a decade. He's had four wins here.

He's since shot back up to the 10- to 12-to-1 range around town, even as the bets rush in on golf's most popular pro.

"I think there are a lot of top quality players, young and old, are playing some of their best golf, and I think that's going to lead to one of the most exciting Masters in years", Mickelson said.

Challenge accepted, says 11th-ranked Australian Jason Day.

"We just went right in order", he said.

The 47-year-old Mickelson, an owner of three Masters green jackets, won his first tournament for five years last month and appears re-energized. Should he bring that to Augusta this week, he will be very hard to beat.

Related Articles