No clear favourite at Augusta Masters

Augusta, United States: Augusta National's trademark back-nine drama in the final round of the Masters could reach epic heights Sunday with a field that offers no clear favorite and several rising young stars.

Adam Scott. Pic/AFP
Adam Scott. Pic/AFP 

Rory McIlroy and defending champion Adam Scott squandered late leads last month to lose, while reigning British Open champion Phil Mickelson and Australian star Jason Day are coming off injuries. World No 1 Tiger Woods will miss the Masters for the first time after back surgery to fix a pinched nerve.

24 first-timers
Mix in a record 24 first-time Masters starters, including recent three-time winners Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed, and one of golf's grandest stages is set for a showdown to decide the green jacket like few seen in recent times.

The absence of 14-time major champion Tiger Woods could dim the mystique for some, it's unlikely to steal the spotlight come Sunday afternoon. "Having Tiger in a tournament definitely creates more buzz, more of an atmosphere," McIlroy said.

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