Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the golfing calendar, the battle for the coveted green jacket looks set to be the most open for years. We take a look at the contenders for the 2011 US Masters from Augusta, Georgia.
Phil Mickelson (USA) – world number three
The Californian left-hander secured one of the most emotional victories that the finely manicured greens of Augusta had seen in 2010 when he claimed a three-shot victory and his third green jacket. 'Lefty's wife, Amy, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but made it to the event to witness a hugely popular win for her husband. Now ranked number three in the world, Mickelson warmed up for the Masters with a win in the Houston Open last week and he is many observers' favourite to take the title for a fourth time this week.
Tiger Woods (USA) – world number seven
Of all Tiger Woods's extraordinary acheivements in the game of golf, it would be truly remarkable if he walked away with a fifth green jacket on Sunday. Without a tournament win since 2009 and down at number 89 on the 2011 money-list, the world hasn't seen the best of Woods for some time. That said, he did manage to tie for fourth place here last year in the middle of a year of personal trauma and he hasn't finished lower than sixth at Augusta since 2004, so count him out at your peril.
Lee Westwood (GBR) – world number two
It hasn't been the greatest of 2011's so far for the Brit, but after a stellar 2010 that saw him rise to number one in the world and finish second in both the Masters and the British Open, it's a distinct possibilty that Westwood could go one better this year. He hasn't managed a top-10 finish in any of his seven tournaments this year, but none of the previous four winners of the Masters had been in decent form prior to Augusta, so don't be surprised to see Lee's name on the leaderboard on Sunday.
Rickie Fowler (pictured above) (USA) – world number 32
The latest young sensation of United States golf proved a point to many in the Ryder Cup last year, when nailing a vital long putt under pressure to claim an unlikely point for his side despite being somewhat of a wild card pick by Corey Pavin. That showed his courage at the highest level and he's continued that form in 2011, with three top-10 finishes already including a second place at the Honda Classic. The former world ranked number one amateur is making his professional debut in the Masters this year and is always one to watch wherever he plays.
Aaron Baddeley (AUS) – world number 61
You need to be a smooth putter to get anywhere near the Masters crown and 30-year-old Australian, Baddeley has to be in with a chance on that criteria alone. He won the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles in February and with a re-worked technique on his irons, Baddeley is no folorn hope despite his lowly ranking.
Matt Kuchar (USA) – world number 10
Teeing off with Lee Westwood and world number one Martin Kaymer in arguably the pick of the early three-balls, 32-year-old Kuchar has been rising steadily up the rankings lately and performed excellently on his first visit to Augusta back in 1998 when he was the best amateur. He hasn't played there since 2002, but his 2011 form has been superb, with six top-10 finishes from eight events, including at the Houston Open last week, where he was eighth, behind Phil Mickelson.
Rory McIlroy (GBR) – world number nine
Still aged just 21, the Northern Ireland star has been threatening to win a major for the last few years and makes his third appearance in the Masters this year. His best performance in Augusta so far is the 20th that he achieved on his first visit, but he was close to victory in the USPGA last year before letting the opportunity slip in the closing holes. McIlroy also finished third in the British Open in 2010 and in 2011 he has three top-10 finishes from five starts.
- Rickie Fowler's profile on redbull.com
- Keep in touch with the latest from Augusta at the official Masters site
- Visit the official PGA Tour site