There are 19 players at Augusta National for the first time, and not since 1979 has a Masters rookie (Fuzzy Zoeller) left with a green jacket. It is the only major contested on the same course annually.
From 1981 to 2001, Nelson was one of the honorary starters every year except 1983, when he stayed home to care for his ailing first wife, Louise. "There's a few men that have been able to do it over the years", he added, nearly wistful, "but they are few and far between". Palmer died in September at age 87. Still searching for the only major that has evaded his trophy cabinet to date, the Northern Irishman let us see just how brutal his will to win this week is, and how that affects him and those around him in the build up to golf's most famous championship.
Severe storms rumbled through Georgia on Monday afternoon, forcing Augusta National Golf Club to close for a time and disrupting practice rounds.
Johnson now boasts all the tools needed to tame the demanding layout, most notably his prodigious length off the tee that will give him as good a chance as anyone of changing the four par-five holes into par-fours.
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Matt Fitzpatrick, one of a record 11 English players in the field, tees off at 10.34am alongside 2015 champion Jordan Spieth and former world number one Martin Kaymer.
Forty-six was Nicklaus' age when he won the 1986 Masters, making him, to this day, the tournament's oldest victor.
Phil Mickelson, a three-time champion here, talked this week about the value of not making the game too hard. He won the 2006 and 2010 Masters. His best finish since the calendar turned over was a tie for fifth at the Maybank Classic, an Asian-European Tour event with a weaker field than any tournament played on this side of the Atlantic this year.
But the torrent of criticism is such that McIlroy said Tuesday: "Would I do it again?"
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"Through the years, I was fortunate to get close to Arnie, as a outcome of his return both as a member and as a former champion", said Payne. "I know the first tee shot I'm going to be really, really pumped up, so I don't know how it's going to go".
When this year's Masters concludes on Sunday, Mickelson would be 46 years, 9 months and 25 days old. Older than Nicklaus was, but not as old as Julius Boros, oldest male victor of a major championship. Walker won the 2016 PGA Championship. McIlroy was in great shape a year ago when he went into the weekend one shot behind Spieth, a star pairing in the final group on Saturday. The Masters has been the only major missing from his resume since his victory at the 2014 British Open.
But asked if there were any players that he feared this week, Spieth said: "Yeah, Rory McIlroy".
Winkle said he wouldn't comment further until he learned more about Johnson's condition. It's important to stay in touch with the leaders, as history has shown, and a sharp short game will achieve that.
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Early bloom: TV viewers, and patrons on site, might notice this year's Masters being a little less vivid than usual.